A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by M H H's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from M H H is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Highlighting best practice
18 | MHH
Director Michael Hawes
Founded in 1987, MHH is a general accountancy practice
based in Cambridge, which services businesses, and
individuals with complex tax needs. MHH has built a
substantial client base by offering a tailored, browser-based
accounting system that embraces recent tax changes and
allows for greater remote collaboration. Director Michael Hawes
discusses how he has maximised the benefits of computerisation
within the accountancy sector and used this to the benefit of
their clients.
I established MHH with my wife Helen in 1987, following a number of years
working as an accountant in a commercial organisation. Helen had been an
accountant at a car dealership prior to having children, and in order to give
ourselves more control and flexibility, we founded MHH. After spending five years
working as a duo, we enjoyed steady growth and we now employ ten members of
staff in our office in Cambridge. We now service 600 clients in the UK, Hong Kong
and New Zealand, who range from individuals with multiple income streams to
multi-million-pound turnover organisations.
Specialist service
The unique selling point of MHH is our ability to utilise technology and digitisation
in order to make accounting easier. We have sourced and implemented tailored,
browser-based software that enables real-time data tracking and will provide our
clients with tangible advantages when the first phase of Making Tax Digital is
launched in the spring of 2019. Most of our clients are now fully prepared for the
changes in income declaration and we are certain that all of our clients will be by
March 2019.
Providing high-quality customer service is central to our business. As a small
company, with a tight-knit team, we have always retained a personal relationship
with most of our clients and this helps us meet their needs as best we can. We
ensure that we develop a detailed understanding of their business, circumstances
and requirements, before introducing our digital technology that can help simplify
complex accounting operations. I try to take an informal, friendly approach,
especially with smaller clients, acting as a confidante and aid rather than a formal
external contractor. Most of our business comes through referrals and we have a
high client retention rate; some clients who joined us in 1987 remain with us today.
We have a website that has increased the demand for our services; however, we
have never used formal marketing and will continue to allow our reputation to
speak for us.
»Director: Michael Hawes
»Founded in 1987
»Based in Cambridge
»No. of employees: 12
»Services: General accounting,
supporting businesses, and
individuals with complex tax
19MHH |
Our journey
When we founded the business
in 1987, many businesses did not
have computers in their office, but
we both had a good understanding
of computers and we knew that
we could bring the benefits of
computerised accounting to
mostorganisations. Ourdigital skills
were a clear unique selling point
when we were established, and we
helped numerous clients completely
revamp their financial systems.
Despite the age of computer illiteracy
being short-lived, we had been able
to establish a loyal client base, while
testing and improving our software
and methods. The business gathered
pace slowly and we employed our
first member of staff in 1994. By the
turn of the millennium, there were
In the year 2000, we made a
conscious bid to expand the business.
We took over a local practice and
incorporated their staff into MHH,
making us a team of nine. Our staff
expansion led to a significant increase
in client numbers, the income from
which we continued to reinvest in the
business. We have since developed
various operational efficiencies,
helping us deal with more clients at
once, and we now service over 600
clients with just 12 members of staff.
Technology has always been central to
our approach and we have continued
to invest in new systems. Technology
and the industry have changed
dramatically since we started out, but
we have always been willing and able
to adapt, which explains our longevity
and carefully developedservice.
Advancing our business
Combining the two offices through
a single database and work flow was
central to our development plans
in recent years; however, the rural
location of our second office has
presented challenges. The broadband
availability was poor, which slowed
down the database and made a
collaborative approach more difficult.
In 2018, we moved into a single new
office just outside Cambridge, which
has not only helped synchronise work
flows, but it will also allow for further
recruitment in the future.
Staffing and recruitment have been an
ongoing challenge, as finding people
with the right skill set and values has
been difficult. In-house training has
proved a helpful solution, as it allows
us to not only provide the highest
quality training, informed by over 30
years’ experience, but we can also
tailor the education of the staff to
the requirements of the business.
Our staff clearly appreciate the career
development opportunities we have
offered them, and a number have
been with us for over ten years.
Accountancy as an industry
The accountancy industry is in a
good place in general and we are
optimistic about the future of the
profession. A recent trend in self-
employed accountants will likely lead
to an increase in competition, but
with new regulation like Making Tax
Digital, demand should be higher than
ever before. We work in a major city,
which is renowned for innovation and
start-ups, and we hope to embrace
this spirit more than ever before as we
move forward. The variety of business
we work with and the interesting ideas
we come across mean no two days are
the same.
With regards to the onset of
automation within the sector, we are
happy to embrace it, but we remain
confident that human advice will
always be needed. Our personalised
service has always been one of our key
strengths and this is something a robot
cannot replicate.
Director and Co-founder
Helen Hawes
Technology and
the industry
have changed
since we started
out, but we
have always
been willing and
able to adapt


This article was sponsored by M H H. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy