Training and Development

Laura Herbert, newly appointed director of Whitley Stimpson’s Bicester office, outlines how she will approach the role and grow the firm through training and development.

I may be new to Bicester but not Whitley Stimpson having been directly involved with the business for over a decade.

Having been made a director of the firm in 2016 taking over the running of the High Wycombe office, I can see similarities in Bicester, particularly with the client base. It’s about working closely with owner-managed businesses and I have some fresh ideas so when Stephen Payne and Penny Parmar decided to retire from Whitley Stimpson, it made sense for me to transfer.

The previous directors all trained within the firm like myself and this is an ethos I very much want to continue.

As a director I was lucky to be given the opportunity to learn through Developing Leadership in Practice (DLiP), the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) programme.

It was a brilliant insight into the bigger picture, working with accountants within other firms to hear about what it means to be a partner and it was a stepping stone for me to start thinking differently. A big part of that was about how you work and engage with other people and make a difference.

Training is vital – it is essential for people to have a good understanding of accounting practices. I want to look at how processes are run to ensure continuity across offices and smooth running of workload which will give a better service to clients.

Whitley Stimpson has provided me with some fabulous opportunities and brilliant training technically and personally. We work with Reed Business School to support trainees’ development and recently started running apprenticeship programmes for the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) at levels 4 and 7.

I want people to develop and become part of the firm’s future as managers or directors. We are expanding and our team of 92 which includes directors, professional and support personnel and has increased by 16 in the last year.

We recruit trainees every year, both school leavers and graduates with 13 now working towards their Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) or Associate Chartered Accountant (ACA) qualifications and six more recently qualifying.

We exhibit at careers fairs throughout the year, building relationships with local schools and colleges to offer work experience and trainee positions as well as in-house school sessions to prepare young people for the outside world.

Our overall philosophy is to give maximum support to staff and offer continuous learning. Ongoing development programmes include leadership development courses and external mentoring.

I believe that such a culture generates loyalty with 19 staff serving 20 years or more with the firm. Six directors trained and qualified internally and we were recently named as one of the top 10 employers in the country by Accountancy Age.

It is all about a team effort. Leading an office is not about telling others what to do – staff contribute ideas and have opportunities to develop and progress. I am keen to listen to people about how they see the office developing in future.

All of this means we can continue to grow sustainably. Last year the Bicester office took on additional space and we will be looking to recruit more trainees and expand staff and clients. As Bicester grows, we can grow as a business.

I can’t wait to get started, meet the people and businesses of Bicester and grow the firm as part of the community. Just pop in for a coffee and we’ll take it from there!

For advice on business or personal accountancy or to book a free consultation, please contact Laura Herbert.

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