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So it’s goodbye from me…

31 March 2010 1,601 Comments

After 39 years in accountancy of which 27 years have been spent at Riley, today is my last day: I’m off to do exactly what I want to do. As long as my wife will allow it, of course.

I started acounting shortly after my eighteenth birthday and have worked for just 4 firms: Neville Russell (now Mazars) and Price Waterhouse (now PwC), both in London; Nevill Hovey in Plymouth (that didn’t last long!) and Riley. At the outset I had little idea of what the job would entail and I’m pleased to say that I’ve enjoyed it far more than I anticipated. It has its stressful moments, of course: any worthwhile activity does.

Working for a firm of chartered accountants offers the opportunity to experience many different workplaces. Like TV business gurus, we visit a range of enterprises, can ask just about anything to discover how the business works and we can then offer our own advice. Among the clients I’ve worked with have been large & small charities (one favourite in London was the┬áRoyal Institution); and…stockbrokers, solicitors, doctors, dentists, manufacturers (from machine tool makers to an assembler of rat traps); in the 1970s several Soviet-owned enterprises including an oil and a shipping company; house builders, hotels, property developers, financers of dodgy Greek shipping lines, eurobond traders, financial services firms. There’ve been retailers, wholesalers, motor traders, computer service companies, farms, wine importers, food distributors. But fortunately, no banks.

Some of the jobs have appealed to my inner nerd – a start-up company that designed and built medical electronics equipment, another that made non-electronic logic control circuits (they worked through┬áfluidics), commercial radio stations. Others have offered a view of the differing commercial practices of other parts of the world, both within Europe as well as the USA, Canada, China, Japan, Nigeria (which was pretty much as you’d imagine) and the Gulf states.

The best part of it all has been the people. Colleagues, clients, clients’ employees. The chance to gain from their experiences and to offer advice to help their careers or businesses along, to help make their jobs easier. There’s a bit of a misconception that ours is a profession based on numeracy. That does play a part, but far more important is the ability to assimilate a large volume of business, accounting and legal information and then apply it to varying situations. Listening, interpretation, persuasion are key skills.

When I joined Peter Riley two years after he started Riley in 1981, we wanted to build a practice where the technical quality of our work and its ethical basis were the bedrock; where we offered a major and positive impact on the businesses and financial lives of our clients. To do that we needed bright and talented people to join us. Thankfully they did, and I’ve lost count of the number of accounting technicians, chartered and certified accountants who have trained and qualified with us. We also wanted our firm to be an open, warm, friendly place with everyone supportive of their colleagues and willing and able to push themselves to achieve more than they thought they could…

I’m very grateful to our current team and past employees, my current and past partners Jon, Bernice, Val and Peter and of course our clients for making this such a wonderful place to pass most of my working life. I’m confident that the success and growth of the firm will continue.

As to my future, I’ll be working with my wife in developing our smallholding and I’ll now have more time to design, build and use the radio and electronic gear that has always fascinated me. There’ll be long walks (the South Downs Way first, probably); travelling, wildlife watching, reading and perhaps writing. But you can be sure that I’ll be carefully avoiding any contact with anything to do with accounting and tax. It’s been fun, but enough is enough.

David Powell


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