Bright business ideas become a reality at Synergee

Islay O'Hara

Offering far more than just routine tax and accounting compliance, chartered accountants Synergee also provide support, advisory and planning services to help both new and established businesses flourish. Director Darren Austin explains how they’re helping to take local companies forward…

Tell us how the business began
Synergee started in 2007. Director Matt Allen and I both worked at a previous firm, where he was a senior manager and I was a director. We decided that we wanted to ‘paddle our own canoe’, so we made an offer to the other shareholders to effectively buy our client base. In 2007 we set up Synergee and were allowed to invite a number of our prior clients to come and join us. We purchased them from the old firm.

Why set up in Tunbridge Wells?
I originally started working in Tunbridge Wells in 1997 for a different firm of accountants, which no longer has a presence here. I moved here specifically to take that job, and lived and worked in Tunbridge Wells for a few years. It’s a vibrant area and I built up a lot of local contacts in that early period, so when the opportunity came to set up our own company in 2007, it just made sense. There are good links to get anywhere and we’re sat very nicely in the middle of where most of our clients are.

What’s your ‘USP’?
Matt and I know every one of our clients very well, and have regular contact so that we can anticipate their needs and provide the services they need, even if they don’t always realise exactly what it is. They all know they need accounts and tax returns, but we’re constantly thinking about how we can do things better, and we try to make sure we know all our clients well enough. We’ve hopefully got it to the stage where our clients understand that, and if they’ve got any queries, we’ll be their first point of contact, because they know we can typically come up with an answer. It’s about interacting and communicating with the clients.

In what ways do you ensure your clients set and achieve their financial goals?
We make sure our clients have got the right systems in place to give them the information they need to accurately manage their business when they need it. Cloud technology is changing so rapidly, so clients are in a far better position than ever before to have accurate information at their fingertips. A big part of our business now is helping clients to put the right systems in place and configure them, so they deliver the right information and help them keep on top of it. We can also help them put forecast budgets in place to help them visualise what their business will look like and what resources they’ll need.

How do you set yourself apart from the competition?
There’s an analogy I use: You wouldn’t consider driving a car without knowing where you want to be, how you’re going to get there and only looking in your rear-view mirror. We want to help people work out where they want to be, using really good management information so they can work out how they’re doing on that journey.

Do your clients tend to come from particular industries?
We haven’t got any industry specialisms; we’re general practitioners. Typically, the vast majority of our businesses are family-owned. We act for one or two subsidiaries of multinationals, but the majority will be sole traders and family-owned businesses, so in terms of what industries they’re in, it’s pretty wide-ranging.

Do you represent businesses that are just starting out?
We act for a number of start-ups. People tend to come and see us when they’ve got an idea of what they want to do, and some of the first things we’ll help them with are what the business is going to look like over the next few months and what resources it’s going to need. We’ll look at all those aspects for them, helping them set up the business and putting their information systems and targets in place.

Did you notice many trends in 2015?
In terms of the last year, I think most businesses are getting better at their management information, which is a function of cloud prices coming down and there being much better software available out there. Everyone’s getting more focused on better management information and putting better systems in place. The main thing we’ve been working on with clients over the last year is improving their information systems, and I think that will continue through 2016. Automation of data entry is also getting better.

Any other predictions for the coming year?
Over the last few years, lots and lots of clients that were trading as unincorporated sole traders formed companies because there were tax advantages. Lots of businesses that possibly would have stayed as sole traders have incorporated, so I think we’re going to see a lot of smaller companies perhaps reassessing their position. We’ll be talking to a number of smaller limited companies to see whether the company is still a viable option.

Where would you like to see Synergee go in the future?
When we started, it was literally just Matt and myself. We’ve now got seven full-time employees and are probably looking to add another two early in 2016. The idea is to continue to grow and develop the business, so the chances are we’ll have to look for new premises in 2017. The idea is to continue to hopefully innovate in what we do, so that the services we provide are the best we can do and what our clients need.

2nd Floor, 8 Lonsdale Gardens, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 1NU
01892 772 960

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