Bounce Back Series: How Graeme Tennick focused on strategy for clients and grew his accounting firm during lockdown

In our latest Bounce Back article, Graeme Tennick, founder of Graeme Tennick & Co Accountants, based in the North East, explains how a commitment to going beyond compliance has helped the firm grow rapidly during 2020.

Helen Cockle

Bounce Back Series: How Graeme Tennick focused on strategy for clients and grew his accounting firm during lockdown

In our latest Bounce Back article, Graeme Tennick, founder of Graeme Tennick & Co Accountants, based in the North East, explains how a commitment to going beyond compliance has helped the firm grow rapidly during 2020.

"Our 2020 was looking amazing," Graeme Tennick, founder of Graeme Tennick & Co Accountants, explains. "We were going to double in turnover, recruit a couple of members of staff and really continue the growth."

That was until COVID-19 arrived to scupper the best-laid plans. Yet, despite everything that has happened, the firm is still looking at doubling revenue this year. Graeme explains it is down to putting the processes in place and protecting the firm's retained revenue by delivering great value over the lockdown period - using technology such as Futrli Advisor.

When Graeme launched the business back in 2012, he had a clear view of how his firm would be different - focusing beyond compliance and on the client's business itself. This point of differentiation has equated to rapid growth with the company of 10 now serving just under 300 clients.

"We're built off the back of getting into the mechanics of businesses and understanding what is underneath the hood," says Graeme. "We didn't just focus just on the compliance, but the software wasn't really there at the time. I was more trying to get into businesses and trying to make a difference. People could pick up the phone and speak to me anytime, and it just grew really, really quickly within six months of opening an office."

The success of the firm during and after lockdown and its ability to retain and support clients is a direct result of belief in the ability of his team. Graeme has a clear view of the role accountants need to play to business owners worried about their immediate future.

"We are a business first and foremost, then an accountancy practice," he says. "The advice I give my clients is the advice I follow in my business.
"My key motivation through all of this has been about empowerment. We are trained to remain calm in the most difficult of situations. So from day one, we were empowered to make a difference. That was the first step, get clients calm."

Graeme explains the practice decided to go beyond compliance for its clients during the lockdown period by offering strategic advice for free. The approach has been a success with the firm recruiting an extra three members of staff over the period.

With many clients applying for emergency finance, such as Bounce Back loans and CBILS, he says the firm has a role to play in helping those clients use it in the most effective way.

"We're now in a state whereby we're using Futrli to forecast what they're going to use those funds for," Graeme explains. "And this is where I think the future will be massive for us."
"We can plug their financial information into the forecast and say: 'Look, here are three different options for you on how you could invest' and go into 'what if?' analyses in terms of the scenarios."

He warns about a feeling of complacency as the year continues and lockdown eases - without looking to the bumps in the road ahead.

"We've got greater foresight now about what could come in the future, so don't waste it," Graeme warns. "Every other accountant finds similar things, but it's about mindset. I don't think people fully appreciate what lies ahead. I think people see the lifting of lockdown as going back to normal."

He continues: "Whether you have access to financial support or not, everybody's going to be part of repaying it. It's going to come back as an increase in taxes. For company tax to go from 19% to 30% is not unrealistic at all, so somehow you're going have to find the extra margin in these more challenging times."

Graeme is clear on two key lessons he's taken from the lockdown period going into the future.

"Remaining agile is the key one," he says. "The second is accountability.
“I think accountability is a critical thing that's been missing prior to this. Don't wait for this to fix itself. Make yourself accountable for your future. Do not do nothing, because you will live to regret it. This isn't going to go away."

Graeme Tennick spoke to Futrli CEO Hannah Dawson and COO Helen Cockle as part of the Futrli Bounce Back series. Watch the full interview below.

Watch the full webinar to discover:

  • How Graeme scaled his firm while reducing the size of his team
  • The process the firm is going through to shift business owners' mindsets
  • The one thing every client loves about the forecasts the firm produces
  • How the firm has changed the way it onboards new clients
  • Why every accounting firm should offer a strategy option

www.gtaccountants.com

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