2014 Practice Excellence Award nominees revealed

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AccountingWEB is pleased to announce the names of 25 firms and individuals nominated for Practice Excellence Awards. Find out who will win at our conference on 6 November.

Now in their fourth year, the Practice Excellence Awards bring together our extensive online community to celebrate excellence in all its guises. The awards were judged by panels including the AccountingWEB editorial team, experts such as Steve Pipe, Mark Lloydbottom, Mark Lee, Simon Hurst, Paul Rains, and representatives from our SAP business partner sponsors Ascarii, Codestone, Sapphire System and IIS, plus innovation sponsor Xero and technology champion sponsor Online50.

We would like to thank all the judges for devoting their time to reviewing and debating the entries, and for all the firms and individuals who made the effort to take part. Some will be disappointed not to see their names in the list below, but the competition standard was higher than ever this year, and we think everyone across the profession can pick up useful ideas from the ones that made it through to the shortlists.

Follow the links below to find out more about each category and the shortlisted firms.

Small Firm of the Year

Blue Rocket Accounting

Tayabali Tomlin

SRK Accounting

Valued Accountancy

* * * 

Medium Firm of the Year

Lamont Pridmore

Hallidays

Seymour Taylor

* * * 

Large Firm of the Year

Lubbock Fine

Forrester Boyd

Rouse Partners

BKL

* * * 

Unqualified/Trainee of the Year

Andrew Murray, Haslers Chartered Accountants

Beth Sanders, Bird Luckin

Simon Kendall, GVT

* * * 

Practice Growth of the Year

Gibson Whitter

Aston Shaw

Lamont Pridmore

The Wow Company

* * * 

Innovative Firm of the Year

The Tax Guys

The Wow Company

Tayabali Tomlin

CheapAccounting.co.uk

* * * 

Technology Champion of the Year

Sharon Pocock, Kinder Pocock

Chris Downing, Milsted Langdon

Jessica Pillow, Pillow May

* * * 

Payroll Champion of the Year

The Fish Partnership Payroll Team, Fish Partnership

Elaine Shaw, George Hay

Loraine Reid, Think Map Corporation

Some of the nominees will be speaking at the Practice Excellence Conference on 6 November. Come along to find out the secrets of their success, and find out who will win the Practice Excellence Awards at the climax of the all-day event, which takes place in Dexter House, Royal Mint Court, London EC3N 4QN. The day will be packed with opportunities to learn from these cutting edge practitioners and other experts from the accounting world and beyond. The full day costs just £99 - if you're interested in coming to both, view the agenda and book your tickets here. 

SAPThe 2014 Practice Excellence Awards are sponsored by SAP: “We know exactly how important accountants are to helping businesses grow and we want to do all we can to support that. That’s our business too and we’re focussed on developing technology innovations that not only help businesses run like never before, but also improve the lives of people everywhere.”

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03rd Oct 2014 10:47

Congratulations to Seymour Taylor and other shortlisted nominees. It is always good to see great firms being celebrated for practice excellence - well deserved nomination and I wish you every success!

 

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03rd Oct 2014 12:53

how much are these guys paying for the publicity
This is well meaning but highly subjective

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03rd Oct 2014 12:53

and i may add
Very unscientific

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03rd Oct 2014 13:34

Scientific?

Thanks Carnmores

 

How would you suggest we make awards 'scientific'?

 

BTW - no financial element the awards whatsoever.  No entry fee, no 'admin'  fee, just us trying to find great practices and celebrate their efforts.

 

 

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03rd Oct 2014 16:23

well you have thrown down the gauntlet so i shall pick it up

here are some of my concerns in no particular order

1. the process is not transparent in fact it is opaque

2. who are the electorate , anybody or only  accounting firms and their clients  - its hard to see the clients of one firm voting for another so there is a natural bias? 

3. could and did firms nominate themselves? 

4. it  is hard to see for example who would nomniate in say in the Payroll Champion category other than the staff of the firm

5 . what vetting was made of the nominations , for example was a check made to see if nominees had any connections with who they had voted for?

6. Is it your intention to disclose all firms nominated with number of nominations or the voting results of the judging panel?

7. Were ther any occassions when the most nomiated firm did not win , indeed was there one occassion when they did?

8. How did you select the judges and were they paid for their time , were they asked to declare any interest? are the individual judges  really the best people to judge given their individual and business status for example but not limited to Steve Pipe

9. Tell us more about your SAP business partner sponsors , whatever that means

need i go on ? i dont dissaprove in theory but in practice  the nominees will doubtless make capital out of this so it is incumbent that all processes are rigorously examined.  

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03rd Oct 2014 17:11

I Agree

...with carnmores' post.  The process is totally opaque.  It may very well be that it is fair, democratic and with no practice or individual's self promotion at the core of this, but to be taken seriously you MUST disclose the whole process, who was allowed to vote, when were they given the opportunity to vote and on what basis?

Why was my own practice and those of my many colleagues in the profession not advised about this until after the short-listed names appeared?

I think you need to get your act in order!

 

 

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03rd Oct 2014 17:28

Picking it back up...

I think it's important to make these points clear - not least because its important that the efforts of the firms that entered are duly recognised.

In previous years we based our awards on the results they achieved in a survey of their clients' satisfaction levels. Because we felt that client satisfaction was so subjective (and we’ve also launched the Client Satisfaction Recognition Scheme which performs a similar function) we reverted to a more ‘traditional’ format of awards (which is common to almost every other industry awards in the UK)

This year firms could nominate themselves by filling in an application form and providing supporting evidence as to why they should win.  We sifted through those entries and the judging panel came to a majority decision on the winner.

The identities of the firms under consideration were not disclosed to any of the judges to avoid any bias.

The judges were not paid but were happy to help out (whether their reasons were altruistic or otherwise I don’t know but given that firms were anonymous it’s hard to see how any other interests they had would have manifested themselves)

Our sponsors at SAP were especially keen to support the awards programme as they are growing successful relationships with many firms and were keen to highlight that by associating themselves with a scheme that recognised great practices. Again, any involvement they had in judging (they did sit on several of the panels) was completely unbiased.

Whilst this is not a scientific analysis that compares every firm in the country it does follow standard protocols adopted by almost every award scheme I know of.  We are obviously aware that the integrity of the process was vital and we’re confident we maintained that.

 Looking forward to seeing your entry next year!

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03rd Oct 2014 17:55

maybe a panel should review the process

andy_north wrote:

Our sponsors at SAP were especially keen to support the awards programme as they are growing successful relationships with many firms and were keen to highlight that by associating themselves with a scheme that recognised great practices. Again, any involvement they had in judging (they did sit on several of the panels) was completely unbiased.

Whilst this is not a scientific analysis that compares every firm in the country it does follow standard protocols adopted by almost every award scheme I know of.  We are obviously aware that the integrity of the process was vital and we’re confident we maintained that.

 Looking forward to seeing your entry next year!

 

what are these standard protocols ?

 

cant you see the inherent conflict of interest that so many judges have?

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03rd Oct 2014 17:31

Andy

you will have to do better than that !

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03rd Oct 2014 20:42

Large Firm of the Year

PWC has been fined $25m (£15m) and banned from some consulting work for two years by New York State's financial regulator because of misconduct during work at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi.

Hardly surprising they are not named.

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03rd Oct 2014 23:24

Better than others
As Andy has already replied I hope it's ok for me add a word as I was one of the (unpaid) independent judges this year.

I was also an (unpaid) judge for the British Accountancy Awards this year. Years ago I was on the judging panel for the Taxation awards for a number of years. Also unpaid.

I have never experienced any undue influence by sponsors.

Each award organisation operates differently. I like the Practice Excellence Awards as the entries were anonymised. This meant we were required to form our view without knowing which firm was which. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the shortlist and found out who I had chosen.

Over many years I have long encouraged the firms I mentor and work with to enter awards when they come around. In almost every case I can think of it is down to the firm to nominate themselves. Getting shortlisted is itself a fabulous achievement and publicising this helps firms to STAND OUT from the competition. Winning is the icing on the cake of course.
Mark

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04th Oct 2014 10:32

Why bother with separate categories?

bookmarklee wrote:
Over many years I have long encouraged the firms I mentor and work with to enter awards when they come around. In almost every case I can think of it is down to the firm to nominate themselves. Getting shortlisted is itself a fabulous achievement and publicising this helps firms to STAND OUT from the competition.

There should be only one category - for most shameless self promotion.  Didn't someone say that "self-praise is no praise"?

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By Locutus
04th Oct 2014 14:40

Euan's comment made me chuckle

Euan MacLennan wrote:

bookmarklee wrote:
Over many years I have long encouraged the firms I mentor and work with to enter awards when they come around. In almost every case I can think of it is down to the firm to nominate themselves. Getting shortlisted is itself a fabulous achievement and publicising this helps firms to STAND OUT from the competition.

There should be only one category - for most shameless self promotion.  Didn't someone say that "self-praise is no praise"?

Congratulations to all of the finalists, it is a genuine achievement to get there, but Euan's comment made me quietly chuckle. The award for "saying what a lot of us are secretly thinking" goes to ...

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03rd Oct 2014 23:39

thank you Mark
I still think we need more transparency, as the lady said ' well he would wouldn't he'

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06th Oct 2014 07:51

In a competitive marketplace those firms keen to grow the size of their client portfolio find it easier to win new clients if they have something that the competition doesn't have. That something needs to be relevant and perceived to be of value to prospective clients.  Being shortlisted for business awards that celebrate success, achievement, innovation etc is undoubtedly a positive way in which firms can STAND OUT from the crowd.

Being shortlisted for such awards (and even better, winning them) evidences a degree of credibility and third party endorsement.  Everyone else is reliant on simply asserting how good they are, relying on random clients to recommend them or hoping that adverts, SEO and conversations with potential advocates will bear fruit.

Not all firms are keen to grow but those that are and who have been shortlisted for the Practice Excellence Awards now have another distinctive factor to help them STAND OUT. By itself it means nothing. But as part of a planned approach to marketing it can but help. 

Mark

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05th Oct 2014 12:01

This is maybe irrelevant

Awards always remind me of Salmond Rushdie and his book Satanic Verses. It was nominated for the Booker Prize, and won the Whitbread Award for best Novel of the Year.

I love reading, so I bought the book, thinking it would be very very good. I couldn't get past the few few pages! Obviously, my tastes differ widely to all the 'experts' who make the judgement, and this has made me very averse to 'award winners'. Are the awards 'fixed' because I have yet to meet someone who enjoyed the book.

Has anyone managed to read the whole book, and did you enjoy it? He cost the country a bomb in personal protection (provided by Mrs T!).

Likewise with the gongs handed out to celebrities, and to people who are just doing what they are getting paid for (eg. civil servants).

ps. I am not accusing AWeb of fixing the results. I just think the reasons for any person, or business, getting an award may be meaningless and quite useless to many.

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06th Oct 2014 10:00

Referendum hangover

ShirleyM wrote:

Salmond Rushdie and his book Satanic Verses.

It is "Salman". Salmond's work was entitled "Scotland's future"

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05th Oct 2014 14:30

spot on
Shirley, them and us

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05th Oct 2014 23:11

Awards

I judged a category in these awards and it's not fixed and I didn't see any names in the judging process.

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07th Oct 2014 11:51

Great :)

Steve Collings wrote:

I judged a category in these awards and it's not fixed and I didn't see any names in the judging process.

Oh good. That's cleared that up then!

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06th Oct 2014 10:41

Perspective

I think the problem with these awards is that they're held out to be National awards and representing the best accountants (whether they're marketed that way or it's simply inferred), but in reality they can only be as good as the entrants themselves. As a sport comparison they're equivalent of a Club Open tournament, it's open to everyone but in reality it's only the local club members who enter.

I certainly don't believe that the awards are 'fixed' but because entry to the awards is based upon self-nomination it is inevitable that the majority of those entrants will be the 'self-promotion' types of firms. I'm sure Steve Pipe, for example, was entirely unbiased but it must be difficult in that situation because I know that I could identify an AVN member firm from a mile off, even if I don't know which specific firm it was, the systems, marketing blurb and products used would easily give that away.

Any awards or 'Top 100' list etc is always going to be flawed because it excludes those businesses who like to keep a low profile. For example, I have a couple of law firm clients, effectively sole director/owner businesses, who make a couple of £million profit each year. If you look at the top paid UK law partner lists, that makes them pretty much the highest earners (profit per equity partner) in the country, but actually they don't appear in the list at all. The same can be said for the Leicestershire Top 100 wealthiest person lists which are published each year, I know numerous people who qualify to be fairly high up that ranking, but they don't appear in it at all.

That said, congratulations to those people shortlisted in the Practice Excellence awards, you've clearly made a great effort, have a good practice and have proven to be better than the other entrants, and possibly better than the 'average' firm. Also, well done to the judges who have given their time free of charge, I'm sure the awards will be a good event and if it spurs people on to improve their practice then that's a good thing.

The awards just need to be viewed in perspective, and I do think that next year it would be useful if the whole nomination, sponsorship and judging process could be made transparent from the start, it would in this case have avoided this whole discussion/thread.

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06th Oct 2014 11:26

@Steve


cant you see?  so you judged a category , who collated and presented the information you got ? what checks were made on this info ? what were the sources? what care did you take to check it was the whole story

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07th Oct 2014 11:34

Firmly on the "so what" side

I'll be honest and say that, until carnmores raised the query above, I had naively assumed that these awards were based on a survey of clients or, at least, some form of audit.

Having read what came out the woodwork above I did then toy with the idea of putting my own firm forward for next year (just as I close it down), as, with my experience and having read the stuff spouted by gurus over several decades, I could easily have created a contender....but then life's too short.

Instead, I imagined a new prospect walking through an "Excellent" firm's door, attracted by the banner of the Excellence award, and, casually asking "what did you have to do to get that?" and the answer "We filled out a questionnaire".

What's spooky is that I've been invited to attend this year's awards, thanks carnmores, it'll now mean I won't have to miss Eastenders

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07th Oct 2014 21:29

lol Paul
I am nevertheless going to the conference

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07th Oct 2014 22:07

ill do anything to miss
Eastenders

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08th Oct 2014 11:32

I'm thinking of going along, what time does it start / finish please?

 

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