It takes courage to break away from one of Britain’s biggest accountancy firms and go it alone.
But just nine months on, with five additional branches across the North West, more than 50 staff and a group turnover of £2.5m, it is already looking like an inspired decision by RfM Preston.
“We wanted to offer a fresh ethos and approach to accountancy and how we deal with clients,” explained group consultant Paul Newsham. “But we felt those ideas didn’t fit into the business model when we were Haines Watts.
“Yes, it was a bold move leaving such a large company. But since we launched our own brand in January we haven’t looked back.
“We feel we are able to offer something very different, almost unique. And the clients seem to love it.”
The difference, says RfM, is in the added service it offers – going the extra mile to solve any difficulties clients might be having. Hence the group’s full name RfM Accountants + more.
“To be honest that’s the way we have always worked,” said Paul at the company’s office in Towngate, Leyland. “I think it’s what we should be there for.
“Yes, we are accountants and we deal with compliance, audits, tax and accounts. But we act as more than that.
“A lot of accountants say they are proactive, but don’t actually do much to back that up. We take a client’s problem on and make it our own and do what we can to help solve it using our contacts.
“We may have a client who is struggling to raise funds but, because we have links with finance people throughout the country, we can put them in touch and hopefully solve their problem.
“Sometimes it is simply a case of putting two people together for their mutual benefit. If something comes of it then great. We don’t just look for opportunities involving accountancy and tax compliance!
“We are a facilitator for our clients. We like to think that if we can’t help, then we know someone who can. We had a client, for instance, who had built student accommodation and was just two weeks from opening when they realised someone had forgotten to talk to the electricity suppliers to get connected. They had 100 students ready to arrive and no power.
“So we used our business connections and helped them get things sorted out. We didn’t benefit financially. It was just rewarding knowing we had been able to help.
“Also, if we come across a business opportunity which we feel might benefit a client, we make sure they know about it. It’s all about helping where we can and we know our clients appreciate what we try to do for them in all sorts of ways.”
RfM Preston had been Haines Watt (Preston) for 10 years prior to the breakaway. They teamed up with long-established firm RFM in Barrow and Ulverston – also part of the Haines Watt empire – to form the new company in January.
Since then RfM Lancaster, RfM Morecambe and RfM Fylde have joined the brand. And there is a possibility of others coming into the fold in the future, including a London branch.
“Since January when we launched the brand we have gone from three offices to six and the possibility of a seventh in the capital – that’s not bad going,” added Paul.
“People have joined because they like the brand, they like our approach and they like how we deal with clients.”