March 10, 2023

Episode 74: Paul Barnes of MAP

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The Story

Like any firm, yours isn’t perfect. Your firm, like any firm, has team members who want to progress their careers and become better at what they do. And as they get better, your firm gets better as well.

The old adage that, if you don't grow your people, you won't grow your practice, is as plain and obvious as the nose on your face.

It was a real privilege to welcome Paul Barnes from the accountancy firm MAP onto the Humanise The Numbers podcast and to hear the practical and valuable insights that Paul has picked up over the 10 years since starting his firm.

What was remarkable was how open Paul was about the challenges, frustrations and difficulties that he, as a fairly well-recognised accountancy firm leader within the UK, has faced.

It's just brilliant when someone is vulnerable and open and transparent about challenges, as well as about what it is that makes a good, or a great, accountancy firm work.

Paul has built a firm with just 120 clients and 26 team members, and he does an exceptional job of ensuring that each of his clients is receiving deep, crystal-clear insight, either monthly or quarterly, into the financial merits or otherwise of their business.

I believe everyone in the profession would benefit from the insights that Paul shares on this podcast. I found it inspiring that someone would be so open and practical about what you can do to make an accountancy firm successful.

Please scroll down this page to see the contact information for Paul and to find additional resources mentioned in the podcast.

The Solution:

In our industry, I think there's a misunderstanding - you are either advisory or compliance. In reality, most firms are missing a huge trick, which is the big gaping hole in the middle, the outsourced finance function. If you can get that bit right, the bit to the left, the compliance, and the bit to the right, the advisory, will start to open up.

We have spent years getting our craft right when it comes to the bit in the middle to enable better conversations, because you can be the best advisors in the world, but if a client recognises that you didn't file a VAT return on time or somebody got paid wrong through payroll or the statutory accounts have been pulled up during due diligence because of a mistake you've made, it undoes all the advisory work.

I would say, we're 80% about getting the data right and then 20% about doing something with it. Most accountancy firms don’t like to accept that's actually what we are.

We are fortunate that clients pay us and trust us to get their data right and we're really lucky because lots of consultants and advisors don't have that opportunity. They can't see all the transactions of a business and how that business operates; they're having to do it at arm's length without that information.

We are in a hugely advantageous position from a competitive point of view, but you have got to get the fundamentals right.





Connect with Paul

Connect with Paul

Resources relating to this podcast:

In this podcast Paul Barnes discusses the importance of checklists. He runs a firm heavily based on systems and processes, all of which are measured and assessed and against which his team are accountable.

These processes and systems have enabled Paul to have confidence and trust in his team when it comes to serving their clients.

He calls the processes they follow 'playbooks'. These playbooks are supported by monthly checklists that drive down mistakes, which Paul calls 'battle scars'. The checklists are used so that the team learn from the battle scars, ensuring that the process is adjusted to prevent them from happening again.

How often do you use checklists in your firm? Set up and insist on the use of checklists for business-critical tasks to avoid mistakes or to ensure you're not relying on simply having to remember everything!

Even if people know what they should be doing, work together and ensure the mission-critical work follows a checklist.

This has worked for Paul Barnes, and it can work for you.

Click here to download the Business Breakthrough report 'Checklist Success'. Don't leave those mission-critical tasks in your firm to chance.

High Performance Podcast -

This is the link for the podcast that Paul mentions about a young man who started his own business at 11 and hired his first employee at 14.

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