Leading the way to future success: An interview with Jonathan Walton, Managing Director of Whitley Stimpson

Whitley Stimpson is one of the country’s leading independent accountancy firms, with offices in Banbury, Bicester, High Wycombe and Witney. The company, which has been providing financial advice to businesses and individuals for over 86 years, is ranked within the top 100 practices in the country and is recognised as one of the top ten accountancy employers in the UK. This is down to their expertise and experience in accountancy, tax and business advice and their strength in a number of sector specialties.

Written by: Claire Thompson, Papa Romeo PR Photography by: Vic Toplisek, Whitley Stimpson

The company is noted for high service levels for businesses and individuals and provides leading edge, sector specific advice in areas such as education, agriculture and service charge accounting.

In April 2017 the firm made fundamental changes to the way the business is managed and brought its network of four offices under the single brand name Whitley Stimpson Ltd.

Claire Thompson met with Jonathan Walton, Whitley Stimpson’s new managing director to find out more about what this means for the business.

2016 was a busy year for Whitley Stimpson following its merger with the Witney based Morgan Harris Group, which followed the firms previous strategic shift with a merger trail of accountancy practices in Bicester and High Wycombe. This created a network of four regional offices providing vast opportunities for growth across a wider geographical area, and that of services offered to existing and potential clients.

Jonathan says: “Since 1931 Whitley Stimpson has been managed by its directors through a consensus of democracy, with each director having a vote on all aspects of the business, and it will continue to do so. As the business grows, so too does the number of directors, and with 14 directors this can mean considerable debate, which needs strong leadership recognising the needs of everyone and the culture of the firm.

“In April 2017, I took over as the de-facto managing director of Whitley Stimpson succeeding Malcolm Higgs, who has successfully steered the firm for many years, and now takes up the position of chairman.

“Malcolm’s principal aim as chairman is to manage and to provide leadership to the board of directors of the company. With the ever expanding team of directors, leading the board is an increasingly important role for Whitley Stimpson, a role that requires maturity and an iron grip on the agenda. Malcolm will continue to work with his clients face to face and the new business structure will enable us to provide a better organised service to our clients.

“Having studied politics, philosophy and economics at university, and having run a very successful office for a number of years, I’m quite good at recognising issues as they arise: that coupled with my MBA from Reading University, and my MA in Leadership Studies from Exeter University, should hopefully help the business as we move into the next phase of our life-cycle. Having graduated from Oxford University, which boasts it has been educating leaders for 800 years, I know I picked up valuable leadership lessons along the way.

‘’I will be supported by director Martin Anson, who takes the role of finance director, and we will reshape the business putting our people at the forefront, recognising that they are our future. Our focus will be to continue to attract new talent, nurturing them through their professional examinations and anticipating their future development needs, so that they stay with us.”

In order to stay ahead of the rapid pace of change, the business introduced a strategically focused management structure with dedicated committees including HR, management and finance, technical compliance, marketing and IT. While this has worked well, further changes were required in order to be agile enough as a larger business to continue to develop innovative strategies for the future.

“2017 is a year for Whitley Stimpson to consolidate its position in the market. We have invested heavily in our infrastructure and people and are in great shape to exploit significant market opportunities this year and beyond. Following the mergers of recent years, we will continue to focus on ‘speaking as one voice.’ We have brought our network of four offices under the single brand name Whitley Stimpson Ltd and at the start of the year launched a new, fully-responsive website The new site came about as a result of the growing mobile audience, so being fully responsive now allows users to access the content they require more effectively and across any device.

“As we continue to grow, we want to maintain and deliver excellence and consistency throughout. We want to be better organised to deliver value to our clients, as well as creating a great place for our people to work” says Jonathan.

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