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Seymour Taylor reveals investing in people secrets

Seymour Taylor talks about its 2019 Accounting Excellence investing in people award win and why accountancy practices need to put training at the heart of their firms.

3rd Apr 2020
Editor AccountingWEB
In association with
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Seymour Taylor
AccountingExcellence

It’s clear from Seymour Taylor’s strategy why the firm puts an emphasis on learning and development.

For Seymour Taylor, this commitment to training and development is typified by a major piece of work the firm did in 2017 on the company values, which importantly, involved everyone in the business.

Through also surveying clients, Seymour Taylor was able to develop their values and understand how they can build on their existing service. This drive to constantly improve armed the firm with feedback to work on with their team, but the values also drives other initiatives such as corporate social responsibility work.

Today’s accountancy teams need to do more than just accounts they need to be tactical thinkers."

As Rachel Pugh director, head of operations at Seymour Taylor’s explains, a modern-day accountant needs to be constantly learning and evolving.

“Today’s accountancy teams need to do more than just accounts they need to be tactical thinkers, business advisers, representatives of the firm, be able to train clients on new technology or be mentors for team members”.

This strategy illustrates why Seymour Taylor believes development and training of their team is key to the firm’s overall success and business growth – and what led them to picking up the inaugural Accounting Excellence Investing in People award last year.

There is no better example of this than the firm’s managing director, Simon Turner, who joined the firm when he was 24 and worked his way up to his current position. It’s a similar story with Joanne Kingsnorth, who started in 2003 as an entry-level trainee and has recently been appointed to Board Director in 2020.

These success stories demonstrate why the firm continually invest in the recruitment of two new trainees each year, providing them with training both on and off the job, and the firm is committed to recruiting and training new members of staff, with or without prior experience.

The firm’s learning and development agenda grows and develops talent for the future at a time when recruiting experienced people is a challenge across the industry. And by involving employees of all levels and departments in all projects, they also recognise that an empowered workforce supports client retention. As a demonstration of this success, in 2019, Seymour Taylor charted its highest ever level of referrals of work from existing clients.

Having a strong commitment to staff development and a progressive culture has also led to strong staff retention.

Interview with Rachel Pugh

In this discussion, Rachel Pugh, at Seymour Taylor reveals to AccountingWEB how the firm built its award-winning approach to investing in people.

Rachel Pugh“We recognise that our younger employees, especially school leavers and university graduates have a brilliant knowledge of technology and software and actively engage them along with others throughout the business in our projects in this area. Some members of staff have studied spreadsheet software at AAT Level 3 and have then run training courses to the rest of the firm to widen our knowledge. This boosts the confidence of the employees as they gain experience in training others. Trainee members of staff engage with clients wherever possible as it helps to build the client relationship and gives them the experience in talking to clients.

Development goes beyond the office walls. Our commitment to training is echoed in the company with our team supporting local young enterprise schemes, representing us and the wider accounting profession at careers events and supporting local schools with CV writing and interviewing tips.

Have a robust succession plan. It is key to develop a 5-10 year plan for all newly qualified members, which is beneficial for the company and the employee as it helps them understand their options and development. It is also good for both parties to understand where the individual sees themselves in the future alongside what the business may need and what training they might require to support that goal.

Listen to and have regular updates with team members so the door is always open for discussion to listen to people’s ideas. It is key to remember that team members training and development needs may be different based on their learning style.

Always be open to new ways of thinking especially as the profession continues to evolve so the training and development move in line with the changes of the modern world. Our junior team members will have ideas we had not thought of and will approach things from a different direction.

Create a nurturing environment for the team to be able to develop. Team members should be able to express fully, their thoughts. We develop this through peer group meetings, client manager meetings/senior and assistants getting together, plus department meetings as well as specialism team meetings. We share the output from these sessions across the business to ensure everyone is informed."

Do you have an award-worthy training and development programme? The 2020 Accounting Excellence Awards are now open! To enter the awards, visit here and complete your entry form.  

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