RfM Partner Gillian Isibor marked the 20-year anniversary of her arrival at the Preston practice… by speaking to us about how the firm has changed during that time, the skills she brings to the leadership team, and her vision for the future.
In the spring of 1998, Gillian Telford, as she was then, started a new job at Leyland-based accountants, Demack & Co. As Tax Manager, she would be responsible for ensuring that the firm’s tax department ran smoothly and that clients’ financial affairs were tax-efficient.
Over time, Gillian became more involved in advising clients directly with their tax matters. And as her role evolved and grew so too did the base of clients she advised.
“When the senior partner retired, I took responsibility for looking after even more clients,” explains Gillian. “It wasn’t possible to look after them properly and still carry out my Tax Manger role, so my position became more of a tax advisory role. That was probably the point when my journey to becoming partner really began.”
Invested in the brand
Gillian became a partner at the Preston office over 10 years ago. In the years since, she has seen the practice transition through various phases and name changes, including several years during which it was part of the larger Haines Watts group. In 2015, she was closely involved in the decision to break away from Haines Watts and return to independence.
“I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved since we became RfM,” said Gillian. “The brand is really strong and our achievements were recently featured in the Parliamentary Review as an example of best practice in accounting.
“We now have six RfM offices across the north west, each run by partners who are as invested in the brand as I am.”
As Partner, Gillian is not just responsible for the running of the tax department. “I run the Preston office. I also help the other offices in the group with marketing support and am involved in the development of new services. As a group, we are always looking for ways to be able to support our clients which was why we were inspired to launch our new legal service. Whilst law is very different to accountancy, it’s something many of our clients ask us for advice on so it made a lot of sense to bring this in-house.”
And she still has her clients to look after.
“Over the last 20 years, I’ve worked with businesses in many different sectors and advised them on all aspects of business, so I don’t have a specialism as such. But I do have a particular interest in supporting new companies who are just starting out on their business journey.
“More established clients need very different advice to start-ups. We are generally their first port of call when making big company decisions. Giving good advice in those situations is often about thinking creatively and identifying opportunities.”
Many of the business owners and managers whom Gillian first advised all those years ago are still clients of RfM Accountants.
“Some of our clients have been with the practice as long as I have – and we’ve grown together.”
The future of accounting
Gillian is also passionate about using technology that makes life easier for clients, and to ensure the group can service even the most progressive clients.
“I’m definitely a fan of cloud-based accounting packages. Our clients who have moved over to using software such as Xero have found many of their accounting processes are much quicker – and it’s a lot easier to share information with your accountant! They will also be ready for when HMRC’s Making Tax Digital project is fully rolled out.
“We will continue to embrace technology to make sure we keep pace with the way people do business – but we’ll also carry on giving our clients our time and expertise on a 1-2-1 basis when they most need it.”
As for the future…
“I don’t know what we’ll be doing in another 20 years’ time, but the immediate future for RfM looks very exciting indeed!”