It might be unlucky for some, but it’s full steam ahead for award-winning Yorkshire-based 360 Chartered Accountants as the firm celebrates its 13th birthday.
Starting with just three members of staff in a serviced office in East Yorkshire, founder Andy Steele admits that while 360 has gone from strength to strength, there have been difficulties along the way.
“It’s difficult to point to just one thing really. We operate in a highly regulated environment so we have loads of red tape to comply with. Our unqualified competitors (many people don’t realise absolutely anyone can call themselves an accountant as the description isn’t protected like it is in the medical and legal sectors) can cut corners which gives them a price advantage so demonstrating how our service is superior to theirs (and therefore more costly) can be a challenge.”
“Building a value aligned team has also been difficult and, as a result of Hull’s geographical location, we’ve had to ‘make our own’ accountants and develop an industry-leading apprentice programme which, on the whole, has been very successful.”
“Like many expanding businesses our systems have creaked on a few occasions and needed updating or improving which can be a painful process to go through. What we can do, though, on the back of this, is to help our clients that are going through similar growing pains.”
Among the high points, buying their first offices in Albion Street in Hull City Centre, a beautiful grade II listed Georgian building (then buying next door too as the 360 team expanded), the appointment of 360’s very first apprentice, Sophie Holmes, as Client Services director last year, a real testament to both Sophie’s hard work and commitment but also the 360 Apprenticeship Programme, and the creation of the 360 Grassroots Sport Foundation to help financially disadvantaged young people living in the HU1 to HU9 postcode areas that are at risk of dropping out of (or unable to access) grassroots sport. Andy Steele continued:
“I love helping clients achieve their business goals and objectives but getting a boy or girl back out onto the football or rugby pitch tops even that.”
“Opening our York office in January 2022 was another proud moment as it’s something we’ve wanted to do for some time thanks to our large client base there but never had the time or resources to do so. We’ve also opened a further accountants office in Wakefield recently and have plans for one further geographical expansion in 2024. More news on that later in the year!”
Meanwhile, Andy Steele describes the lowest point of the whole journey as going into lockdown in March 2020 but, as is usually the case at 360, they managed to turn a real negative into a positive.
“I think everyone in the UK found that pretty scary but for business owners in particular, that was a spanner in the works nobody could have predicted. Thankfully Armageddon didn’t happen and we were actually able to take a few positives from lockdown one. We went entirely paperless overnight, started using video conferencing much more effectively, reduced motor and travelling costs (probably forever) and won lots of new business on the back of the fact none of the team were furloughed during our clients’ hours of need and the Covid support we introduced for businesses all over the UK (not just our clients). All of the team mucked in whether it was helping our payroll bureau with furlough claims for clients, answering Live Chat and WhatsApp queries until the small hours or watching the daily briefings and producing daily updates for the blog.”
“2023 will be a year of consolidation as we bed in new members of the team and help our clients navigate the choppy waters that will inevitably lie ahead for some of them. We are also beginning tentative steps to find our ‘forever home’ which will ideally be near our Albion Square roots but all options are open presently. We love our current HQ but it is over 230 years old and difficult to maintain and develop thanks to its listed status. We need an open plan, modern, eco-friendly facility to collaborate with each other and our clients. We also have exciting plans for the Foundation which will need space and facilities our current home simply does not have.”
“One thing’s for sure, the next 13 years are likely to be as exciting as the first!”
To read the full interview with Andy Steele on the eve of the firm’s 13th birthday, please visit the 360 blog at www.360accountants.co.uk where you can also find out more information about 360 Chartered Accountants and 5Four Payroll.
Alternatively, call Hull 01482 427360 or York 01904 217360.