Douglas Martin, Anderson Anderson & Brown: Breaking the mould of the traditional accounting firm
Recently Gareth Spowart, Senior Public Practice Consultant at iMultiply sat down with Douglas Martin, Head of Corporate Finance from Anderson Anderson & Brown to discuss their move to the Central Belt, how it has impacted the business and what makes them different from their competition.
How have you found Edinburgh compared with Aberdeen?
Edinburgh is an extremely buoyant market, and a very different city to Aberdeen. While Aberdeen is still heavily focused on the oil and gas market, Edinburgh has a broader range of key sectors including financial services and technology as well as the public sector.
We have a dedicated growth team supporting the technology sector bringing together the extensive expertise we have across the firm in this space including supporting high growth tech businesses with fundraising advice, R&D tax credits and cloud solutions. Our Food & Drink team have experienced a significant period of growth since arriving in the capital assisting clients across the whole of Scotland with activities such as virtual finance support, audit & tax compliance as well as mergers & acquisitions and fund-raising. The development of these teams secured some very significant client wins.
Additionally, we have a very strong, dedicated Consulting team for public sector clients. This specialist team have a wealth of knowledge across modernising services and supporting changes that restructure our public bodies and leading Agile teams to develop new digital services.
What impact has the move to the Central Belt had on the business as a whole?
Whilst having always worked with clients in the Central Belt, ourmove has impacted our strategy to become a more agile team, collaborating across all of our offices to provide our clients with awesome service, with technology at the forefront of our delivery.
All of this has contributed to enhancing our capabilities in accessing the talent pool in the Central Belt which wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. This has had such a positive impact on our team as a whole, adding to the existing outstanding skills and expertise within AAB whilst also adding a new dimension and further diversity to our team.
What do you see as the main growth areas in the Edinburgh market?
All seven of our key business units are now represented in Edinburgh, allowing us to offer our full range of audit, business advisory, tax, corporate finance, payroll & employment taxes, consulting and wealth management services from the capital’s office.
More specifically, our brand is well-known in the Corporate Finance arena, having been recognised by the Scottish Business Insider as the accountants having completed the most deals in Scotland from 2005 – 2018. Assisting us in finding and securing new mergers & acquisitions and fund-raising opportunities in this space. Our Wealth Management team are growing rapidly in the Central Belt, with their integrated approach to financial and tax planning being sought after. Our Virtual Finance Function (VFF) is also an opportunity which we see as a key growth area as it looks to transform traditional ‘outsourcing’ of client’s finance functions.
Our VFF service is a key example of our global reach. We are a national firm with a global outlook and success in the global marketplace is an area where we can help businesses grow and prosper. This is an additional area where we see future growth in the Edinburgh market as we support clients on all international matters and we will continue to showcase our capabilities in this space.
What are you seeing as the main goals/challenges with owner managed businesses in Scotland?
We seek to partner with our clients, understand their individual goals and challenges, as well as their systems and processes, recognising that each business is different. Owner managed businesses (OBMs) in particular have varying requirements throughout the lifecycle of their business.
Looking at some of the key pieces of work we have carried out with clients generally across Scotland in the last 12 months, we have seen a significant increase in OMBs looking for support to grow either through business diversification and/or pursuing international growth. A key focus in this space is around people with businesses looking to gain access to the right people and being able to build quality management teams.
How does AAB stand out from the competition?
We think we are different. We want to break the mould of a ‘traditional’ firm and look for better ways to deliver an awesome service for our clients and expand our capabilities into new areas, by service line and geography. We are an entrepreneurial business and have experienced significant growth since formation. In the last 2 years we have opened offices in Edinburgh and London, created new business units, streamlined others and have ambitious growth plans in place to continue our journey.
The culture of our business as the AAB family is one of “work hard / play hard.” We give our all to both of these, making sure we make time for our team both in and out of the office, look after our team and also the communities in which we operate. The Anderson Anderson & Brown Charitable Initiative (AABi) provides everyone with a platform to raise funds for grant donations to local charities and deliver volunteer time throughout the year.
Our culture is also one of proactivity, innovation and progression – we look forward together to help improve our clients businesses as well as ourselves by embracing challenges and change. We look for people to join us on this exciting journey and build their careers with us.
It is all very well for us to think these things about the firm, but external assessments reinforce what our people really think it is like to work for AAB. One of these platforms is Best Companies which this year saw us achieve position 37 on the Sunday Times Top 100 Best Companies To Work For List. It is the fourth consecutive year we have made this list. Though it is great to receive this recognition, ultimately, knowing that our people feel empowered to get the best out of themselves and recognise all of the great things we achieve together as a team is the real reward.