Have you ever wondered how to get more production out of your production team?
What I mean by that is have you ever wondered how to better help your production team turn out more sets of accounts, more VAT returns, more management accounts in any given time, even if they're working remotely part of the time, or maybe even if they're working remotely all of the time.
In this podcast interview I'm talking with Kat Wellum-Kent of multi-partner multi office firm Monahans, down in the Southwest of the UK and Kat with her 45 strong production team have started a number of initiatives to do just that.
I really liked the buddy system that Kat talks about on the podcast, as well as the different career paths she creates depending on the natural preferences, natural tendencies, natural skills and personalities that go with her team.
Humans are complex, aren't they, lots of different things that go into making them who they are.
And it might be introversion, extroversion - it might be that they are more numbers focussed or they're more verbal or whatever it is, and all of those things blend together.
It's about matching that blend with the right role. That's going to suit them the best because then everyone wins.
Connect with Kathryn Wellum-Kent
TRANSCRIPT - unedited
[00:00:00] Paul Shrimpling: [00:00:00] Welcome to the humanized, the numbers podcast, series leaders, managers, and owners of ambitious accounting firms, sharing insights, successes, and issues that will challenge you and connect you and your firm to the ways and means of transforming your firms results.
[00:00:20] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:00:20] Like humans are complex. Aren't they, they're lots of different things that go into making them who they, who they are.
[00:00:26] And it might be like introversion, extroversion. it might be that they, I don't know really numbers or they're more verbal or whatever it is, and all of those things blend together. And, and it's about matching that blend with the right role. That's gonna suit them the best because then everyone wins.
[00:00:46] Paul Shrimpling: [00:00:46] It's worth wondering what it's like being an introvert, leading and managing a team of 45 people producing two and a half thousand sets of accounts in a year in large multi-office firm. This [00:01:00] podcast with cat welcome Kent of multi office for moderns down in the Southwest has cat sharing her insights on her introversion, but also look out for her comments on about how important it is.
[00:01:14] To make the roles of the team crystal clear, and the purpose of what they're doing crystal clear too. Let's go to that interview with cat now. So Kat, just to put everything into context, can you please just give us a bit of an overview on Monahans you know, what you do, your role and your team and your clients, just so that we can start to see who you are and what you're doing.
[00:01:35] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:01:35] Yes. Sure. So, I mentioned my hands is a firm based down in the, in the Southwest. We have, I say seven and a half offices because we have a small office in foom that we open up on market day or dead pre COVID. we're a firm of 12 partners, about 200 odd staff. and. Within the firm, we cover kind of a broad range of, of services, kind of pretty much [00:02:00] everything you'd expect, including kind of corporate finance.
[00:02:02]we also have, an associated, wealth management business. and I guess my, my role within that. So I lead the business services team within Monahan, which is a team of about 45 people at the moment. and that team ranges from school leavers. So training associates that come in from AAT all the way through to managers, And our main role is to deliver the compliance services either directly to clients or for, our kind of client portfolio managers that then hold that relationship with the, with the external client.
[00:02:38] Paul Shrimpling: [00:02:38] Okay. And are those client portfolio managers in your team or could they be another
[00:02:42] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:02:42] team outside? So the client portfolio managers almost sit in, I guess what we'd call like a fun office. So, so they would be outside outside of the team. So I guess when I think of the team, we almost have two groups of clients.
[00:02:54] We have kind of your external clients that the managers in business services hold those [00:03:00] relationships. And then we have our internal clients being the client portfolio managers.
[00:03:04] Paul Shrimpling: [00:03:04] And what's the split of work in percentage terms, you know, the, I don't know whether you do it on numbers or value between your internal customers, clients and your external in inverted commas, real clients,
[00:03:16] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:03:16] the vast majority of it would be to client portfolio managers that then, kind of have that client relationship.
[00:03:24] So the vast majority of what we do is to internal clients.
[00:03:28] Paul Shrimpling: [00:03:28] Radica. Okay. Now this is going to sound harsh. So, you know, fight back on this one. So are you running the sort of, accounts, production, sausage machine for all the client facing relationship managers?
[00:03:40] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:03:40] Sort of, yes. I don't like to think of it in that way.
[00:03:43]because I think there is a danger. If you, if the people that have been there doing the work, think of it as just doing a process and following steps, then I don't think. The quality of the product will always be there. I want them to [00:04:00] almost feel like what they're, they're responsible for delivering that set of accounts, not following a kind of step-by-step process.
[00:04:10] Paul Shrimpling: [00:04:10] Okay. So. You're saying to me there that you think the quality of the work goes down. If it's just a checklist, tick box exercise of getting the accounts done and out the door and a set of, draft accounts into the hands of a portfolio manager. H how, how D how do you team, how do you connect your team up to the actual fact that they're doing something for a, a business owner who's got, you know, the excuse, the reference, but the blood and bullets of running a business flight in this, you know, in 2020, there's been plenty of that metaphorically.
[00:04:40]ha how do you build that bridge so that they can get a feeling towards the value of that work? For the end customer, or do you build that with the relationship with the portfolio manager? What, how, how do you make
[00:04:52] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:04:52] that one? I guess we do it in different ways. So, so one of it is, is the relationship with the portfolio manager.
[00:05:00] [00:04:59] So, I want them to be able to answer any question that the client portfolio manager poses to them about what is happening with those numbers. So if they're getting kind of review points or comments, I want them to be able to answer it. As if it was the client, but then also in the past, which some, which is something that we've done that, I'd like to kind of do more of when we, restrictions are kind of lifted with our interactions and things is, it's kind of almost run like mock client meetings.
[00:05:26] So almost like me or the, their line manager, whoever it is, kind of sits down with a file and pretends to be the client and asks all those questions like. Likewise my tax bill so high this year, or, or what's that in that number? I don't think that's right. And dah, dah, dah, dah, dah. So they can actually understand what those numbers mean and the kind of questions and the kinds of things that the client portfolio manager is going to.
[00:05:49] Also, they know that that's what they're going to have to think about and deliver to the client portfolio manager.
[00:05:55] Paul Shrimpling: [00:05:55] Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So how do you, how do you, how does your [00:06:00] team determine that they've had a successful day or a successful week or a successful month, depending on, you know, what, what, what your reference is?
[00:06:08] How do they, you know, you know, I would like to think you get, we used to do this didn't work, go to work, then get home on a Friday, as opposed to just. You mean from one room to another Navy, and go to the fringe fridge and open your favorite bottle of ginger beer or glass of wine or your gin and tonic or whatever it is.
[00:06:24] And if you feel as though you've had a really good week, the drinks really good. and if you've had enough week, the drinks actually a bit of a S you know, a sour, how do your people know they've had a good week? Okay.
[00:06:37] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:06:37] I think it will be a combination of factors. So, so one of them will be. Delivering the work that was expected of them.
[00:06:45] So it will be more of a process thing. So we have a staff scheduling system that we use at the beginning of, the week they'll, they'll have an email they'll go in and look and see, okay, this is what I've got to get done this week. One of the things will be if they've got through. [00:07:00] What they were supposed to have got through, then that's obviously going to be a yes, I have achieved what I meant to, regular points throughout the week.
[00:07:07] I would be hope they would be getting, kind of, viewpoints or feedback from the client portfolio managers when they've looked at the files. So hopefully if that's good, then that will be, that will be kind of a, another sign that they've had a good week kind of just reaffirming that they've got stuff, right.
[00:07:22] Or even. Even if they haven't picked up everything, just getting that feedback so they know, okay. Right. I understand. That's what I need to do differently. but they have that kind of regular interaction. So they, I think the important thing is they know where they are. Like they know, they know if they're doing well or what if they need what they need to improve on.
[00:07:38] I think the worst thing is having silence and not, not knowing where you're at,
[00:07:44] Paul Shrimpling: [00:07:44] not working in a vacuum.
[00:07:45] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:07:45] I think that can be really demotivating.
[00:07:48] Paul Shrimpling: [00:07:48] Yeah. Yeah. So how, how do you track and measure or acknowledge that flow of feedback from the portfolio managers cap?
[00:07:55]Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:07:55] at the moment it's, it's it's ad hoc.
[00:07:57] So each of the, associates, [00:08:00] has a, has a line manager. So it's either a newly, relatively newly qualified, newly promoted manager or an assistant manager. So that would be someone that's just approaching qualified or more commonly recently qualified, and they will be catching up with. With each of those associates on a, on a, at least kind of weekly basis to just check in, see how they're at.
[00:08:20] And as part of that, they'd have a discussion to kind of go, Oh, how are you getting on with your jobs? Have you had back to kind of, what feedback are you at? So we'd get a kind of a sense of, how they're doing and then. As a management group. So the assistant managers, managers, and myself, we have a, a fortnightly catch up to just kind of pick up on issues.
[00:08:38] So if we're not getting the feedback, then we can follow up. Or if particular individuals are having issues and we want to talk about it, or a common bit of feedback comes up, which would identify training need, then we could put something in place. so at the moment that's relatively kind of informal, one of the.
[00:08:57] The things that I'm looking at [00:09:00] implementing is a, is maybe a more formal feedback system. The challenge we have is with these seven offices, the client portfolio managers are spread out around all those offices. It's very difficult to kind of. Track all of that and see exactly where everyone's at. So we were thinking about some kind of card-based system or something like that, so that the trainee can raise feedback and we can see at tracks VU track through, but that's still a kind of a work in progress to see where we, where we get to on that.
[00:09:30] Paul Shrimpling: [00:09:30] At 2021 project. Yeah. it's it, the conversation has gotten nowhere near where I thought it was going to go. but fascinating on the last, because, you know, I'll, I'll go into a firm or work with a firm and see, and talk to this sense of achievement. You know, how do we build a sense of achievement because in, in their lives, that sense of drive and motivation and enthusiasm for the work people are doing.
[00:09:52]and, and it's, and I've run team days and, and, it sort of. Almost easier to feel a sense of achievement if you [00:10:00] directly connected with the customer. But if you're in the admin team or the support team or your business services team, you're, you're, you're disconnected. And therefore, there's a, there's a harder job, but it's, I, I like your phrase.
[00:10:12] You, you, you see those. Client portfolio managers as internal clients, internal customers, do your team get to see and meet? I know it's been hard in 2020 is, do you, what do you do to build that sort of personal, emotional connection with those portfolio managers?
[00:10:29]Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:10:29] so whenever, whenever one of the associates starts a job, they should.
[00:10:34] Kind of pick up the phone, have a conversation with that client portfolio manager to get a proper understanding of, anything that they need to know really. and to
[00:10:47] Paul Shrimpling: [00:10:47] red rag to a bull for them. That is so what they
[00:10:49] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:10:49] should do. No, not, not, not as frequently as you would like. I think, I think. emails [00:11:00] are much more common. people, people seem to be scared of the phone. I think part of that is the point that you made that rapport, that relationship. I think some, some of the associates may see the client portfolio managers is, I don't know, scared, but scary.
[00:11:16]so we're. Well, one of the things that we're thinking of doing to address that is, so I mentioned those ad hoc training sessions or something like that, getting those client portfolio managers to do little topics so that they start to build that relationship. I think where, where we've got, a business services team in the same office as the client portfolio managers that were poor and relationships there, the issue we have is where we've got some offices where.
[00:11:44] There's no business servicing team presence. It's just your client portfolio managers. and that's where there's more of a challenge, because there's not that relationship at the moment. Oh, a strong relationship with weed. Like it's unfair to say no relationship, but yeah.
[00:11:57] Paul Shrimpling: [00:11:57] Your relationship. Yeah. Yeah.
[00:11:58] Cause you can have an email [00:12:00] relationship just as you can have a, you know, a Facebook relationship, but it's not the same as having a phone call relationship or a zoom relationship or a face-to-face one, it sits, there's a different depth to it. Isn't there. and so actually building that emotional connection with your internal clients is so that's sounds as though it's quite tough that,
[00:12:17] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:12:17] and I think, I guess one thing I didn't mention in the introduction is over, over this year, we've kind of changed how the business services team works.
[00:12:27] So in the past we had kind of separate business services teams that almost serviced particular client portfolio managers or particular offices. Whereas this year we've moved to one business services team servicing all the client portfolio managers. So that has made. That relationship piece more important and slightly more challenging because, there's a greater pool of managers that need to know greater port of train of associates.
[00:12:57] Paul Shrimpling: [00:12:57] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. So, [00:13:00] so I interrupted you early. So, you know, I, I asked about building the relationships. Well, they, we start with, they should talk to the managers, so it was a bit of work to be done there then, to these innovative commerce, scary managers, what, what next, what next.
[00:13:14] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:13:14] Then, I mean, ideally in a, in a normal world, we'd have, kind of, regular social events that, we'd get all these people to go to.
[00:13:22] Cause I think there's nothing, nothing beats sitting down outside of work and just having a conversation with people about their lives and getting to know them on a personal level that then takes the working relationship to, yeah, to a different place. I think it makes it a lot easier if you. No about them.
[00:13:38] So you can say, Oh, like, how did like, whatever your favorite football team had to get up at the weekend? And no, it wasn't, it so-and-so's birthday last week or whatever. and that's where we, we have, it has been a struggle because. We haven't been able to replicate that in the same way we started off doing your, your quiz nights over zoom is I think everyone did right at the [00:14:00] start, but then everyone got quiz night fatigue.
[00:14:06] Paul Shrimpling: [00:14:06] Okay. So, how, how's your, how's the performance of the team then in this remote working world then CA how how's how's that gone?
[00:14:16] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:14:16] It's. It's been quite challenging, because pre COVID we were, pretty much everyone was almost fully present in the office. We didn't have remote workers. So I think it was actually a Testament to us as a firm.
[00:14:32] We managed to go from being pretty much a hundred percent office based and. At that point, having a lot of manual files about the place to working remotely and electronic files almost in the matter of a couple of weeks, which was amazing that we could achieve that. but it's that, that proved challenging in terms of just keeping everyone engaged, checking in on everyone, making sure everyone was [00:15:00] okay.
[00:15:00]and. I think it's taught us a lot in terms of the, the support mechanisms we need in place. So we've got a number of, newly promoted assistant managers who. They're responsible for a smaller pool of the associates. So they can, it's almost easier for them to, if they're looking after side and I say like five people, they that's, that's more manageable than if you had a manager that was looking after like 15 or 20 people.
[00:15:27] That's very difficult to provide that level of support, especially in a challenging, kind of environment that we've had this year. and. below that we try and kind of buddy people up so that there is, a kind of a support mechanism within the office. so you have your kind of almost your brand new associates, and you've got your associates that have been here a year or two and they provide support.
[00:15:50] And I think that's great for the associate because they've, they've got someone that they can ask loads and loads of questions to, but I think it's also really important for that person that is the buddy, because [00:16:00] that kind of demonstrates to them. How much they've learned and what they know and kind of makes them feel better about themselves because they're like, Oh, actually I hadn't realized how much I've learned, but now I've looked at like most where I was 12, 18, 24 months ago.
[00:16:15] And I realized. I didn't know anything. And I know so much now. Yeah,
[00:16:18] Paul Shrimpling: [00:16:18] yeah, yeah, yeah. Not as green as the water was because they've got that responsibility. So is that body process something that you've instigated during 2020? Or is it working?
[00:16:29] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:16:29] No, we had that buddy process before then. so principally when, when the kind of new associates started.
[00:16:35] So that was one, the other challenge that we had. Six new associates join in the beginning of September, when we were all working remotely, we hadn't come back to the office at that point. So that was a. Interesting induction process.
[00:16:50] Paul Shrimpling: [00:16:50] Indeed, indeed. yeah, it's, that's been a challenge for all firms is bringing in new people during the last, the last 12 months or certainly since March. [00:17:00]
[00:17:00]so one of the things that, shows up clearly for me, Kat, with the different firms that I work with around the UK, And a little bit internationally as well is the, that the firms that have done best are the ones that have actually got more points of contact with the team. than they had before we were working remotely.
[00:17:21] And the ones that have, sort of maintained a similar level, or maybe not done as much as the best performing firms, just haven't, you know, there's a direct correlation. I think I've mentioned this on another podcast as well, but, it it's just so blatantly obvious. I'm just wondering, have you got any sense as to whether you and your managers, your team have got more points of contact now than they had before?
[00:17:41] Or where are you at? Where's where's your team with that one?
[00:17:46] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:17:46] If I was kind of appraising myself on, on that, I think, when we were kind of towards, at the beginning of lockdown. So when everyone was working remotely, we probably didn't have, we hadn't stepped up in terms of more points of contact, [00:18:00] right.
[00:18:00] When. When we were able the first, so our first kind of priority was, making the offices COVID secure and getting our, basically anyone that was an associates, anyone that was studying or learning training and anyone that supports train people that are training back into the office. So we could increase those points of contact again and, and, and get them kind of working, working better.
[00:18:28]because we could see that. that was having an impact in terms of, people's what, what people were saying, just, the, their ability to, to kind of get through jobs, in the same way that they would do in the office. So that was why we prioritize that because we felt that was the easiest way to improve those points of contact.
[00:18:48] So, Hmm,
[00:18:50] Paul Shrimpling: [00:18:50] it's in there. There's that? It's not a trade-off it's the wrong phrase I was about to use, but there's that blend isn't there of functional, emotional and mental wellbeing that ensures that people can [00:19:00] actually plow through the work that needs to be done in order for you to hit your goals and targets and financial responsibility to the team and the firm.
[00:19:06] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:19:06] And I think, I think this, yeah, shown. And highlighted for, I think, many people, the importance of, of mental wellbeing. And I think it's made it a lot more normal to talk about it and to focus on it. and to kind of be open if you're, if you're having issues, which, which is, I think a positive for me because I it's so important.
[00:19:30] So so important.
[00:19:31]Paul Shrimpling: [00:19:31] I absolutely agree. And some firms have ignored it. Some firms have done things with it and, some firms are doing something every month with every person with, without mental, mental health, well being check in, which I think is fascinating. W w w what have you done to actually ensure you've got a process around checking in with people and knowing that everyone in your team cat's actually, I'm on the straight and narrow to user, hopefully inappropriate.
[00:19:56]Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:19:56] so I think that's, that's now the, [00:20:00] the, the kind of the line managers responsibilities. What we did is we we've. kind of made it so that each line manager has fewer people. So as part of the check-ins, I mentioned that they'd be asking about where they are with their jobs and things, but they'd be also getting a sense of how, how they're doing.
[00:20:16]and I think in those kind of groups, everyone kind of knows each other relatively well or has done for a little while. So you just kind of get a sense, you know, if someone's off of it, and you can kind of try and kind of either push it with them and see if they talk about it. Or if not, kind of just raise it with.
[00:20:33] The person up to just kind of go actually, what, what can we do to try and spot it as soon as possible and provide, provide the support?
[00:20:42] Paul Shrimpling: [00:20:42] Yeah. Yeah. I think that, that, I think that's quite smart actually. Kat, the it's interesting. I run quite a lot of. processes on zoom with, you know, small teams, large teams, and we are running a process yesterday with a team of about just short of 30 and we've tested different breakout rooms in that zoom setting [00:21:00] and, and, and Ms teams and the other products as well.
[00:21:03] And, it's clear that when you've got four or five in the room, There's there's a level of engagement that isn't when you've got 12 or 20 in a, in a breakout session just doesn't work. And even the difference between four or five and seven and eight it's it's stronger. And, and I think, you know, the connections.
[00:21:22] It's not just about the number of connections, is it? It's about the depth of the connection and you in saying that you've got fewer people with four or five in that, that, that little group mate, and I've just written the words, tight knit, you're actually creating a bit of a tight knit group, which looking after each other.
[00:21:37] And if you've got, they've got agenda items in their team, check-in Adam. Interesting to know if it's, how often they get together as a group in a, in a, in a zoom or teams or whatever. but if there is a deliberateness around, how are you doing with the jobs and how are you doing? So it's something, it's something about the jobs and it's something about them then all of a sudden we're, you, you, you, you are genuinely having that deeper check in [00:22:00] aren't you every, every week.
[00:22:01] How often do they actually, come together as a, as a
[00:22:03] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:22:03] group? It's, it's really kind of informal. and it. It varies. so I think it's, it's something that we haven't been doing in this way for very long. So probably maybe like the last month or so. so we're just kind of refining how we, how it works best.
[00:22:22] And I think I've kind of given people free rein to kind of do what works for them and their teams. And then we can kind of see actually, if there's a. A way that we should kind of tailor it. So everyone does the same or whether to just keep it kind of, kind of flexible, but your point is really, we were seeing that.
[00:22:39] So originally when we started in terms of the communication, we were having kind of full team meetings. So everyone in business offices, like in the Swindon office. And so I think that was maybe about 20 odd people on a zoom, 25 people on a zoom. we, Skype, but yeah, on a, on a call. There was no two-way [00:23:00] discussion.
[00:23:00] Really. It was almost me communicating things and that was it,
[00:23:04] Paul Shrimpling: [00:23:04] and a message,
[00:23:06]Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:23:06] which has a place. So I think what I've learned, what we've learned is that if there's messages, if there's kind of one way communication to get news out or, or things out a zoom call or a recording or something like that is a great way of doing it.
[00:23:21]but to kind of follow up on them feedback. Get the two way communication. It has to be those smaller groups. Otherwise it doesn't really work.
[00:23:29] Paul Shrimpling: [00:23:29] Yeah, it's, it's about having a conversation, not just delivering a message, isn't it. And like you say, there's, there's a, there's a place for both. If, and I liked the, you know, the fact that you prototyping it and seeing who manages it best and then, and then perhaps seeking out best practice later, makes, makes eminent sense.
[00:23:46]I really like that, Kathy that's, th th that that's really smart and connects with the insights. And I was thinking about this this morning as I was, Again, ready for this session. And I'm wondering how, how does it large [00:24:00] firm like yours actually make a, you know, create a, a human humanized working environment and that small groups.
[00:24:08] Great buddies. Great. You just, so you've gone really micro from them. a macro stance, which I think is smart. And, in a former life, I was once meant to be joined in the, the armed forces before. a certain lady who I've now been married to for a few decades, led me astray, thankfully. and, spent some time, in the, officer training Corps.
[00:24:28] And you've got, small groups of between five and eight called a section. And then you've got a company which has got, you know, A hundred. And in between, you've got a platoon, which you got about 13 and there's, there's different dynamic in that four, five, six, seven is that than there is in the 30 than there is in the,
[00:24:46] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:24:46] yeah, my, my husband's in the army.
[00:24:48] I, I may have stolen some, the idea from him.
[00:24:52] Paul Shrimpling: [00:24:52] Oh, right. Very good. Very good. So is this, is, is this your initiative then this, this, this, the, the, the small team piece in your team, or is it a [00:25:00] Monahans initiative?
[00:25:02] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:25:02] I'd say it's something that. We're driving in business services because the other team, the other parts of the firm are kind of structured quite differently.
[00:25:10] There aren't any other big group where they're kind of the, the biggest department. Everything else is kind of small. Like if we've got a personal tax team, which would be probably the next largest one, but, that's kind of smaller and, got more, more senior people say more, more managers, more experience where the core of, of the.
[00:25:29] That the, kind of the train, the people that are going through a training program that the younger, the younger members of the team. so where I think all of this is really important because they're learning so much, or could be learning so much that you need to make sure you're. Yep. On top of that.
[00:25:47] Paul Shrimpling: [00:25:47] Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. That knowledge management piece. So, as your department, then the source of the future portfolio, client manager types. Yes. Kat, because you've got so many of them there's there's so they, they sort of grow out of your [00:26:00] team and into, client facing. How, how does that get measured rather than talk general?
[00:26:04] It'd be really interesting to talk about. you know, an individual without naming them, just to get a census to really what's the, the human experience in terms of going from a, we're not client facing we're, we're doing work and we connect to our internal customer. Yeah. We might have some customers, but how do you take your, your team and turn them into a really good client?
[00:26:22]Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:26:22] so I guess it's really interesting because I think. Historically that model that you just described as has been seen to be the way to go. So you're in business services, you work your way up and then you get to be a client portfolio manager. And I'm trying to change that a little bit because I, I think there's a place for business services managers and more senior people within business services.
[00:26:47] So I don't want people to think that. You kind of work your way out and when you're good enough, you'll go out of the team.
[00:26:54] Paul Shrimpling: [00:26:54] That's the only path you don't want that to
[00:26:56] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:26:56] be. And I think people will be based [00:27:00] on their skillset and what they enjoy will be drawn to different routes. So I almost think that, but both when you're doing business services or client portfolio manager, you both have elements of, of dealing with external clients and you both have.
[00:27:15] Elements of, of dealing and managing people. And I think it's just the focus in each of those roles is it is a different mix. So if you're in business services, it's more kind of people focused and getting the most out of your team with some clients. Whereas the other way, if you're client portfolio manager focused on the clients, but you've also got to manage the people, cause you're still feeding back and helping the people in business services, you might have someone in your, in your kind of.
[00:27:42] Front office team. That's a bit more junior that you need to manage. So it's, for me, it's the focus on people versus clients. but when,
[00:27:52] Paul Shrimpling: [00:27:52] sorry, do you mean people versus clients or is that just you just describing the two routes that your routine can advance?
[00:28:00] [00:28:00] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:28:00] I guess the, I guess the, yeah, the two kinds of routes.
[00:28:02] So it's, it's it's it's yeah. It's where.
[00:28:07] Paul Shrimpling: [00:28:07] They're not against each other. It's not the people versus the clients. We're not
[00:28:13] just checking, just checking.
[00:28:16] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:28:16] So, yeah, we've had people who, I'm thinking of someone in particular who started always like school leaver came in as his AAT, and worked their way up to a point where they were, managing, Part of the business services team. and they did that for a little while and whilst they were doing that and kind of, managing that team, they were slowly building up their, their kind of, not necessarily technical knowledge is the wrong word because you've done your studying, but all the other bits that go around what you'd learn whilst you're studying that you need to know.
[00:28:50] If you're the main point of contact with the client. so they were starting to build up all of, all of that, because that was where they ultimately wants to go. so then they moved from that business services manager into a client [00:29:00] portfolio manager role. but more recently if, with our kind of recent, qualified, but Chinese associates that have qualified, we've had both assistant managers, Opportunities within the business services team, but also ones that are kind of assistant client portfolio managers almost.
[00:29:17] So there's been an op opportunity to go one of, one of two ways. So people have been able to see actually, do I want to kind of focus on building and supporting the team or do I want to get straight into building and growing that knowledge to become a client portfolio manager one day?
[00:29:36] Paul Shrimpling: [00:29:36] Yeah. Yeah, yeah, no, I think that's neat that, you know, I've had conversations at say board level partner level in, in firms.
[00:29:45] And, it might be a discussion about, bringing a new person into either partnership equity or director level or whatever. And, you know, there. Some firms have got a view that, well, you've got to be a Rainmaker in order to be a partner. We said, well, hang on a second. If you've [00:30:00] got someone who's brilliant at leading a team of people and actually, you know, actually, embedding a brilliant culture in the firm, but they're not a Rainmaker, isn't that as valuable, if not more valuable than someone who can bring in a hundred, 200 grand's worth of worker a year.
[00:30:14]and it sounds like what you're doing is by creating those two routes is acknowledging the fact that, we, we create roles. And career progression to suit the people as opposed to, just, you know, keeping it narrow. yeah. Brilliant, brilliant. And I guess that, that fits with, and we had a brief conversation before the podcast, but I'm fascinated to hear you join a podcast about, introverts and, and it's it's is that sort of connected with this there's, you know, different routes to suit different levels of introversion versus extroversion, do you think, or am I stretching.
[00:30:48] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:30:48] I guess everyone, like if humans are complex, aren't they, they're lots of different things that go into making them who they, who they are. And it might be like introversion, extroversion. [00:31:00] it might be that they, I don't know really numbers or they're more verbal or whatever it is. I know one of those things blend together and, and it's about matching that blend with.
[00:31:11] The right role, that's going to suit them the best because then everyone wins because they're doing something that they love that they're good at. And so they're going to do brilliantly. So you, as the firm get the most out of them, there's no point. Trying to fit a square peg in a round hole because no, one's happy.
[00:31:29] Paul Shrimpling: [00:31:29] yeah, absolutely. I'm certainly, you've made me think of, David Meister, who was, if you go back a couple of decades was the sort of Uber guru of the professional service world. Did some brilliant research and, and captured it in a book called practice, what you preach and, and he talked about, you know, you look at the highly, highly motivated high performing teams in professional services, and he says, four things show up.
[00:31:52] And, when I've presented this from stage I've gone in, and what he talks about is second of SACC, which usually gets a tittle from stage. But, you [00:32:00] know, thank you for that. Thanks for the titter. S. Where stood for satisfaction, a accomplishment, C challenge and the last C commitment from their colleagues.
[00:32:10]and the, the last three are, self-explanatory the first one satisfaction. What does that mean? And, and, and he talked about it's, you've got the right. Round peg in the round hole. If you've got a round peg in a square hole, the sense of accomplishment, challenge and, commitment to the college, it's going to be a tough ask.
[00:32:26]so I think that's a really, really, really strong point. And so, but to finish, do you take it, you consider yourself an introvert.
[00:32:33] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:32:33] I am. I am
[00:32:35] Paul Shrimpling: [00:32:35] you don't, you don't come across as an introvert on this.
[00:32:38] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:32:38] I would. Like whenever you do those, like Myers Briggs test or whatever it is, I am very highly at the introversion and end of the scale.
[00:32:46]and for me, the definition of how I kind of define it is, is where you get your, your energy from. so it's not that I can't do a podcast or I can't go into a networking event and talk to lots of people or [00:33:00] stand up on a stage and, and, and do a presentation about something I can do all of those things.
[00:33:05] And I often really enjoy them. But I find them really tiring. So I need to make sure that if I'm doing those things, I then at the end of the day, go home and like, don't do anything. And just like, sit on the sofa and watch Netflix or something. Cause that's or read a book. That's how I kind of recharge.
[00:33:21] Whereas an extrovert would find all those things energizing and we'd get a buzz out of it. so, so it's not, yeah, it's not about what you can and can't do. It's just your energy. That's how I define it anyway.
[00:33:35] Paul Shrimpling: [00:33:35] So it's not what you can or can't do. It's okay. It's back to that point. Isn't it about square, square, square, hag square peg in a square hole.
[00:33:44]but it doesn't mean to say you can't get a square peg to do a good job in the round hole. They're just not going to be comfortable for an extended period of time. And then if they're going to build a career, that's not to work, but they could step up to the Mark in that for a day or a week. Maybe
[00:33:58] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:33:58] never be a salesperson.
[00:33:59] Well, I [00:34:00] literally just go out like, yeah. Have meetings try and sell constantly, but I do love going out and meeting new potential new clients and having those conversations just in, in, in, in small chunks, not back to back.
[00:34:13] Paul Shrimpling: [00:34:13] Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Brilliant. so we've got an introvert who actually quite enjoys going on stage in front of an audience.
[00:34:19] Doesn't that really does sound like a contradiction in terms, but I appreciate your definition that night. Again, I can do it and I do like it, but actually I'm exhausted at the end of it. It might be stretching the point, but, very good. Very good. So of everything we've covered off on this conversation today.
[00:34:36] Okay. Is, is the one thing that stands out that triggers something of value for you and what you could should be doing with your team?
[00:34:45] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:34:45] I think, I think for me, it's all about, the contact, the relationships, making sure that everyone in the team. Understands that understands their role [00:35:00] knows, knows how they, how they're doing in relation to that and, and is getting what they want out of the role as well.
[00:35:10] So it's not a, it's a two way relationship,
[00:35:14] Paul Shrimpling: [00:35:14] two way between what the firm and the person
[00:35:17] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:35:17] there's the firm and the managers. So in terms of the, in terms of, I guess, there. Their role and what they're actually doing day to day, everyone wins when they know what their role should, that there's clarity, I guess, on what their role is, but that there's flexibility to tweak that on a almost individual basis for what people's strengths are.
[00:35:41]and what, and what the need of the firm is. So to kind of balance those two things up.
[00:35:46] Paul Shrimpling: [00:35:46] Yeah, just to turn that on. It said then, so what you're saying is if there's ambiguity on, what's expected of them, then they're just not gonna
[00:35:53] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:35:53] definitely, I think I've already decided my word for 2021 is clarity. I want to get a [00:36:00] lot of clarity around a variety of different things.
[00:36:02] So yeah, that's my word for 2021.
[00:36:05] Paul Shrimpling: [00:36:05] Brilliant. And do you think that that's, that's a tough ask, isn't it in a rapidly changing working environment, which, you know, we've, we've, we've got thanks to, you know, the go from office work to remote working, and then obviously it's all gonna change again next year as, but is it it's it's not going to go back to exactly what
[00:36:21] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:36:21] no, and I guess it's, I guess part of it is it's where, what level you need the clarity.
[00:36:27] So if, if the clarity's at a really granular, granular level, Then that is quite a tough ask because things are keep on changing. So you've got to keep on re clarifying what it is, but if you had clarity on a slightly bigger level, so people understood, I guess, the purpose or, why we're doing things that, that kind of level, if that was really clear, then you don't need to be as clear I think on the granular, because people can understand.
[00:36:57] What they're doing in the context of that. So if, [00:37:00] if, if something changed, but they were really clear on what we were trying to achieve, the ultimate goal would be, they would be able to adapt what they were doing, because they could see how it would fit in. So you wouldn't need to clarify granulate. Does that make
[00:37:13] Paul Shrimpling: [00:37:13] sense?
[00:37:14] Yeah. No, no, absolutely. Makes sense. You know, if you've, if you have got clarity over, you know, why we're doing what we're doing. You know what, throughout the team or throughout the firm, then people can make a well judged decision, you know, and chances are, they'll get it. Right. but if they're unclear about that, so, so if there was a central purpose, it moderns, what is
[00:37:33] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:37:33] it?
[00:37:39] Paul Shrimpling: [00:37:39] Can I answer it. Yeah. And see whether I'm on, on, on call only because it's a simple click of a bowels and your website first paragraph, which I wouldn't expect you to necessarily know off by heart, but th th th th and I'm paraphrasing here, but, if we got one ambition it's to help you achieve your ambition and it's like, is that right?
[00:38:00] [00:38:00] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:38:00] I think, I mean, I w I would say, so. I think that's. whenever I talk about my team or what I want to achieve, when I'm working with clients, I see that as my role is to help get the best out of the person I'm working with, whether that's someone in the team or whether that's a business, trying to support them in achieving what their goals are.
[00:38:27] Paul Shrimpling: [00:38:27] right.
[00:38:28] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:38:28] So, yeah. All right. I think that's a good one.
[00:38:32] Paul Shrimpling: [00:38:32] Well, it's, well answered by the wake up well answered. so if the focus is helping your team get the best out of themselves and helping your clients get the best that they want, then that you're, you're in the right space. And it's, if you and your team have all got clarity around that, and you build that clarity over time.
[00:38:48] Cause it's not something that's just. Yeah, shared once, is it? It's a repeat, it's got to be a repeating message everywhere all of the time, almost a cat. I really enjoyed this conversation. Really appreciate you taking time out. Thank you very much [00:39:00] for being so open about you, your team and the firm's
[00:39:03] Kathryn Wellum-Kent: [00:39:03] has been brilliant.
[00:39:04] Thank you.
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Determining a successful week
Building connections with portfolio managers
Team performance in the remote working world
Ensuring your people are well and working /team sizes
Creating more opportunities for business services employees
Introverts and Extroverts
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