David and Julia Brown
Ask Julia Brown how long she and husband David have worked with George Hay’s Eddie Fuller and she jokes “donkey’s years”.
The true figure certainly runs into decades, although the relationship began so long ago that it’s tricky to pin down a precise answer. What is definitely the case is that David, now in his mid-60s, became Eddie’s client in his 20s when he decided to go it alone as a self-employed general builder and neither he nor Julia have ever felt any need to look elsewhere.
The couple originally chose to work with George Hay because the firm was well established and known in the Biggleswade area. In the years since, Eddie has become a dependable, accessible source of practical advice and information, which Julia found particularly valuable when she took over doing the books for the business some 20 years ago, after her sister-in-law had shown her the ropes.
She says: “I like to know I am doing things properly and if I have any queries, or enquiries from people like HM Revenue & Customs that I don’t understand, Eddie is always there to give me advice and reassurance.
Alongside his ongoing input into the business’s annual accounts and help with day-to-day queries, Eddie’s expertise has also been particularly useful with more complex issues, such as the tax regime relating to construction subcontractors and when David was having difficulties with clients who failed to pay up.
Julia sums up: “Eddie’s helpful, he’s professional and he knows his job inside out. He gives us good advice and I can’t praise him enough.”
Randall’s Parliamentary Service
Randall’s Parliamentary Service has its finger firmly on the pulse of what’s going on at Westminster, Whitehall and the UK’s other key decision-making bodies.
Based in London, just over a mile from the Houses of Parliament, Randall’s has been providing specialist parliamentary monitoring services for more than three decades. Over the years, those services have grown to include coverage of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh, Northern Ireland and Greater London Assemblies with innovative, web-based monitoring.
While Randall’s business revolves around decisions made in the corridors of power of the UK’s leading capital cities, for around 25 years its accountancy affairs have been dealt with in the rather lower profile location of the east of England.
Up until the mid-1980s, Randall’s had been using a London accountant but were becoming unhappy with fees that were growing more and more expensive. Heather Randall, then proprietor of Randall’s, was a client of Cambridgeshire solicitors Leeds Smith – and through them, Randall’s were introduced to George Hay.
Patrick Robathan, a director at Randall’s, recalls that George Hay made a “good impression” and that initial encounter has led to a long and successful working relationship, with George Hay tax partner Barry Jefferd as Randall’s main adviser. Barry is regularly in London on business, so meetings – a couple of formal sessions in relation to the annual accounts and perhaps a couple of others over the course of the year – are easy to organise.
While Randall’s business involves providing fast, accurate monitoring reports to clients ranging from foreign delegations to pressure groups and blue chip companies to charities, its accountancy needs are fairly simple. Bookkeeping, billing and payroll are handled in-house, with the George Hay team producing what Patrick calls “pretty straightforward annual accounts” for Randall’s and its associated company Parliamentary Data Online.
The team also assists with the personal accounts of Randall’s directors and provides general financial advice and support, as and when required. Patrick says: “For example, Barry advised us on the tax advantages of incorporating from a partnership and guided us through the process in 2007.”
The advice George Hay provides may not always be regarded as specialist but it’s always relevant and very proactive. Patrick says: “We can ring up with some daft question and we know they’ll come back with a response within the day. They are always there when we need them.”
That responsive customer service – underpinned by George Hay’s professionalism and fees that continue to compare favourably against those of London accountants – help to explain why this particular long distance relationship has lasted so long.
Meller Group may not be a household name itself but there’s a fair chance that many of us have some of the company’s products in our homes.
As the business approaches its centenary in 2013, it is firmly established as one of the UK’s leading designers and producers of beauty products, accessories, knitwear, jewellery, gifts and homewares.
Working with leading high street stores, it supplies items to be sold under their own branding and through its Meller Design Solutions arm, it provides a complete service for private label beauty, skincare, bathcare and cosmetic products.
Meller Design Solutions is based in Bedford, where its monthly payroll for around 80 people is handled by PayScheme, the outsourced payroll bureau service from George Hay Chartered Accountants.
Steve Morley, head of HR for the group, has worked with PayScheme since he joined Meller in 2008 and in that time has built up an effective working relationship – over the phone and by email – with the team’s Elaine Shaw.
In previous HR roles, Steve had not had to deal with payroll matters but at Meller, he is more closely involved. Each month, he updates a spreadsheet – set up with the standard data for each employee – with any exceptions to the norm, such as where someone might have done a few hours of overtime or has taken sick leave for a couple of days.
The spreadsheet is emailed to PayScheme, which then produces a payslip summary for checking. Once everyone is happy that it is correct, Steve says: “We say ‘go’ and a few days later the payslips arrive and PayScheme moves the appropriate money from our account into those of our employees. A typical query might be where a tax code has changed but 99 per cent of the time, everything is fine and if there ever are any queries, I just pick up the phone or send an email.”
Working with Elaine has helped Steve to develop a more in-depth knowledge of payroll matters and has also highlighted how valuable the input of payroll professionals can be to an organisation, for example in handling all the necessary Bacs transactions and liaising with HM Revenue & Customs.
Steve says: “We benefit from their knowledge and expertise in payroll matters and they also have the necessary software, which saves us from having to have our own payroll system. It’s a much more flexible option for us to be able to hive off that part of our operation.”
"I get a very personal friendly service and they give me exactly what I need."
R F M Design Ltd