Finance

Meet the boss who started as a trainee at his firm 40 years ago

An accountant who followed in his father’s footsteps to become a partner at one of Gloucestershire’s biggest accountancy firms is celebrating 40 years in the business.

Tim Watkins joined Randall & Payne as a young trainee back in 1981 and eventually worked his way up to Managing Partner in 2015.

He explained: “Accountancy is in my blood. My father and uncle were both accountants and I followed Dad into Randall & Payne.

“He was a partner here when I joined and encouraged me over the years to keep training and passing those exams so I certainly owe him a lot.”

Tim took time out of his busy schedule to reflect on the many changes in the industry over the last 40 years, the decisions made in the face of lockdown, and why it’s so important to trust your team.

A very good place to work

Randall & Payne has been providing expert business advice and practical accounting solutions for over 140 years.

More than a century into the firm’s existence, Tim arrived at the door straight from a 12-month Accountancy Foundation course at Bristol Polytechnic.

He said: “When I first started, I just wanted to get through the exams. The structure in those days was you had to pass all of them in one sitting so that was my first target.

“Once you’ve got those qualifications, the world becomes your oyster and you can do more or less anything you want.

“So there were other opportunities and I did wonder about alternatives but Randall & Payne was always a very good place to work so I stayed and I’m obviously very pleased I did.”

Leaps in technology

Tim Watkins joined Randall & Payne as a young trainee back in 1981

Needless to say, Tim has seen a lot of changes in the business over the last four decades, including some huge leaps in technology.

He said: “The rate of change has been incredible. There was a real sea change a few years ago when cloud accounting started and then digital tax came in and that really did force the pace.

“When I started, advisory work tended to be done by senior people in the firm. Now, thanks to the new technology, advisory can be done by people at varying levels – from the top-level consultancy work down to anybody preparing a set of accounts.

“We can now see how clients are performing almost on a daily basis and link that to some of the new forecast software.

“The power of the information that can be produced is just incredible. I shudder to think where it’s all going to end up in the next 40 years.”

Working from home

And of course, another of those big changes was a worldwide pandemic and the resulting announcement that everybody should start working from home.

Tim said: “March 2020 will stick in my mind for a long time. We’re very fortunate here to have an IT director that’s looked after us very well over the years and we were ready to go and work effectively from home.

“Working remotely expedited our move to online accounting software and away from physical files, and we encouraged more of our clients to use cloud accounting software so we could keep in touch with them and their figures on a regular basis.

“So that seemed to work for us but my concern as we moved through the pandemic was seeing the effect on individuals not having the office or people to talk to and help bounce ideas and sort out problems.

“I wanted to introduce things like a daily update to keep everybody in touch with what was happening with the firm and keep everybody in touch with each other.

“What started out as just ‘passing on a bit of information’, developed into a regular spot where members of staff were feeding me even more details to keep it going.”

Stories of resilience

Meet the boss who started as a trainee at his firm 40 years ago
Tim Watkins and members of the Randall & Payne team at this year’s Gloucestershire Live Business Awards

All of which means it’s no surprise that Randall & Payne was headline sponsor for the ninth time at the recent Gloucestershire Live Business Awards.

Tim said: “It remains a privilege to put something back into the business community.

“As a long-established part of the county business scene, it’s always encouraging to see the quality of the entrants coming forward year after year, as well as the variety, and to see county firms ever-changing and evolving with the times.

“Obviously there wasn’t an awards ceremony in 2020 but we’ve just had the awards for 2021 which was really well supported.

“It was excellent to have people back together celebrating in one room and hopefully it marked something of a return to normality – although it seems the ‘new normal’ for businesses may be the need to be ready for anything.

“I think, as a business community, we need more than ever to get together and acknowledge our achievements and share our stories of resilience during such unprecedented times.”

Find out more?

Meet the boss who started as a trainee at his firm 40 years ago

Randall & Payne is a leading independently owned firm of chartered accountants, business advisors and tax specialists, working with clients across Gloucestershire and across the UK. For further information, see the website.

The Gloucestershire Live Business Awards took place on Wednesday, September 15. For the full list of winners, see the website.

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