Sinden Thackeray Partnership

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Sinden Thackeray Partnership'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 Sinden Thackeray Partnership 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
Chris Kember, soleproprietor
Sinden Thackeray Partnership (STP), based in Rochester,
Kent, was formed in April 1995 when former partners from
a larger organisation broke away. An accountancy firm
with a broad demographic of customers, spanning from small
businesses with an annual income of just £10,000 up to limited
companies with a £3 million turnover, STP pride themselves
on operating a versatile, client-focused range of strategies,
and identifying potential challenges early. Chris Kember, sole
proprietor and a proud fellow member of the Association of
Accounting Technicians, discusses everything STP and talks about
preparations for the “Making Tax Digital” government initiative.
A versatile firm
Up until 18 months ago, our practices were incredibly traditional. Everything
was analogue and paper-based; clients came in once a year, we would prepare
accounts, tax returns and invoices – that, generally, was our role. It was standard
practice, but with the advent of new government tax initiatives, we have started
moving towards a paperless, digital business model for all our clients.
We have a broad range of around 600 clients, and while we look to keep up with
younger clients through a separate website and appeal to as wide a demographic
as possible, small business is our bread and butter. Whether our clients want to
correspond by email and software remotely, or opt for more traditional, face-to-
face meetings to cover their accounts, we can accommodate them.
Our philosophy
While we are still dealing with some clients through traditional methods, however,
we are aiming to make everything paperless before April 2019. This will increase
the amount of service we provide to clients consistently through the year, and with
the government’s Making Tax Digital (MTD) initiative on the horizon, we aim to
make our traditional accountancy work and the transition to an entirely paperless
system smooth, accessible and simple.
In accordance with these values, we have established a positive working
relationship with our software provider, Iris Software Ltd. We have beta tested
various products with them, and our staff use an Iris product, KashFlow, for day-to-
day affairs. Beyond that, we have also been collaboratively working on and testing
Iris Snap, an app which we want to offer to clients. This will help them easily take
photos of receipts and other paperwork, which can then be uploaded quickly
to our system to continuously log all relevant transactions. Our developments in
making tax and accountancy as agile and smooth as possible have been recognised
– in September Iris invited me to their Iris World conference, and in preparation for
MTD, I spoke to over 1,000 accountants about the initiative.
»Soleproprietor: Chris Kember
»Established in 1995
»Based in Rochester, Kent
»Services: Accountancy firm for
businessesof any size
»No. of staff:9
»No. of clients:Over 600
»Delivering effective digital
solutions for our clients
Sinden Thackeray
We are going to begin offering services
which we have historically not dealt with
– preparing quarterly digital returns,
for example, and monthly or quarterly
bookkeeping services. The nature of
MTD requires that we are compliant to
fluid customer requirements, and we
will endeavour to remain an ultimately
dynamic and versatile firm.
Sustainable growth
STP has always been a tight-knit firm.
When our journey began in 1995, we
were comprised of only two partners
and six other members of staff. Up
until January 2018, the number always
remained around that figure, but
another three members of staff have
joined; this represents an almost 50
per cent increase to our workforce. We
anticipate further recruitment in the
run-up to April 2019.
In terms of financial growth, MTD has
had a largely positive impact. Clients are
starting to move towards our new, fixed-
pricing strategy, where previously we
utilised a fluid rate. We are doing more,
providing a greater range of services,
and have found that the entire system
proves to be more lucrative. We have
already seen a 10 per cent increase in
turnover over the last 12 months, and
only 15 per cent of our clients have
been prepared fully for MTD.
A firm for everyone
Historically, our customers were those
used to a traditional accountancy
firm. We would attract new clients
through word of mouth, a feature in a
small village magazine, and generally
draw in, slowly but steadily, a new
base of clients suitable for our size.
In recent years, however, and with a
fully paperless system scheduled to be
ready by April 2019, we have tried to
broaden our scope.
Under a different name, we have set
up an alternative, cloud-based website
utilising KashFlow and Iris Snap to
try and catch people from different
generations. We provide the capacity
to deal with everything remotely,
quickly and digitally, which appeals
to newer, younger demographics,
while still remaining in touch with our
traditional client base.
A preventative mentality
Over the past few years, the industry has
not been without its obstacles. Several
years ago, the introduction of real-time
information (RTI) initiatives to payroll
systems required serious work, and MTD
is shaping up to be our most significant
challenge yet. With that said, however,
at STP we operate a preventative
mentality, and try to look forward. As
soon as something potentially difficult
arises, we like to identify and deal with it
quickly, readying ourselves for whatever
changes to our processes must be made.
Thanks to our proactive approach to
MTD, we have turned a potential issue
into something which is slowly and
naturally becoming part of our process.
As such, it has proven not only to be
manageable, but also beneficial in
the long run; it has helped us make
alterations to our fee structure, and,
overall, become a more lucrative
partnership. Our work with MTD has
been the perfect testament to STP’s
attitude to issues looking forward – we
take hold of them quickly and stop
them from ever becoming challenges.
The next two years
We have already grown our turnover
by a significant figure – 10 per cent –
in the last 12 months. By April 2019, I
want to see another 20 per cent, and
by April 2020, a 35 per cent growth
from where we are now. Staff will
expand in the next 24 months; we
are hoping for a further 50 per cent
increase to our workforce. While we
have no vast dreams about huge
expansion takeovers, we want to ensure
steady, continual growth. Above all
else, we strive for a comfortable office
environment and a healthy work/life
balance – for myself as the proprietor,
and all members of the team.
We are going to
begin offering
services which
we have
historically not
dealt with

This article was sponsored by Sinden Thackeray Partnership. 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 The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister