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End of an era as senior director retires from top accountancy firm

Malcolm Higgs, senior director at accountants Whitley Stimpson, is stepping down after dedicating his entire career to the firm.

It was back in 1965 that Malcolm first started work as an articled clerk to Jack Whitley who was a main partner along with John Stimpson at the office in Lincoln Chambers, in the Market Place, Banbury.

The clients at the time were heavily farming based as Banbury was a market town with weekly cattle sales at the stock market. 

Malcolm said: “There are a few clients I worked with back in 1965 that are still with us.

Malcolm qualified as an accountant in 1971, became a partner in 1973 and senior partner in 2003 and there has been considerable growth during that period.

He added: “We’ve gone from a partnership to an LLP then to a limited company and we’ve merged with businesses in High Wycombe, Bicester and Witney.”

Whitley Stimpson’s client base now stretches from the Midlands to London, employing more than 80 staff and it has been ranked as one of the country’s top accountancy firms for the eighth year running by the prestigious Accountancy Age 50+50 survey.

A key theme throughout its history has been its commitment to friendly and personal service as well as its dedication to nurturing young talent among its ranks.

Laura Adkins, head of Whitley Stimpson’s Witney office said: “Malcolm has been the figurehead of Whitley Stimpson and has always had the best interest of the firm and the people within it at heart. Rather than just go through the motions, Malcolm has always made his clients feel listened to, nothing has ever been too much trouble, and he has always been able to find creative solutions to any business challenge.  He genuinely cares for his clients and the Whitley Stimpson people, supporting their professional development every step of the way.”

Jonathan Walton, director of Whitley Stimpson explained: “Malcolm has always had tremendous ambition for the firm to be successful throughout Oxfordshire and moving into Buckinghamshire. He’s the glue that’s bonded the management board together and he’s also been very loyal to his team and clients.

“He’s been an inspirational senior partner and is the architect of the firm today.  Malcolm has led the business with energy, creativity and humanity, building a positive culture for our staff and delivering excellent outcomes for our clients.”

Malcolm’s client portfolio will be taken over by Frances Cartwright and Hermione Hymers – both directors at the Banbury office – who have been gradually taking over responsibility for his clients during the last year.

Their involvement also represents another sea change in the profession with Malcolm noting that the number of women accountants has grown from virtually none in 1965 to a point where the firm now has more female directors than male.

Malcolm is confident of leaving the 90-year-old firm in safe hands. He said: “Whitley’s has a really strong team of very talented people so the business can only succeed moving forward.”

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