The Industrial Revolution... in Accounting

As an audit and assurance partner, based in the Yorkshire region for the top 30 practice Armstrong Watson, I can certainly say that I have seen some significant changes in the profession over the last 25 years.

When I started out (back in the last century/millennium), accountants were just ‘checkers’ who sat in corners working their mystical art and no-one really knew what they were doing, but everyone knew they were doing something. The news that the ‘accountants are coming’ sent shivers of fear down the spines of bookkeepers throughout the land - how times have changed as we are now referred to by our first names, not just our initials and have a quest in life.

My role

Back in the day, a quest like ‘to help our clients achieve prosperity, a secure future and peace of mind’ would have had me working in NATO or the European Parliament but in recent years this level of service is expected of our profession. We offer a range of services to a host of different manufacturing businesses - from chocolate manufacturing to plastic cable protection, high tech sensors to rubber mountings and Pewter to furniture - and you never know the questions that may be posed

  • Can you help with margin reviews, costings and research and development?
  • Can you tell me what capital allowances I can claim for my business?
  • Can you advise me on a business sale, acquisition or explain what grants and other funding opportunities are available to me?

The list is never ending, but it keeps the day job interesting at the very least!

How we help our manufacturing clients

I recently had a call from one of our manufacturing clients with years of experience in the business saying “I don’t understand my stock and the valuation looks wrong but I don’t know why and I don’t know who to speak to about it”. Having identified their issue I then helped the business quantify the problem and work to a satisfactory outcome. They can now say that stock is “just about spot on”.

Another example borne out of falling margins, was a discussion with a client whose margins were falling, but how could that be as they were busier than ever!

We undertook detailed work on their margins and our results highlighted that ‘being busy’ had gone too far and the business was subcontracting out basic production processes to meet demand and then not having the time to monitor their work. Error rates had soured as a result and the impact on the business was that jobs were being reworked. However, the solution was relatively simple. We advised to bring in a QA to ensure that what left the factory was right and in line with the customer order. More importantly the company undertook a review of its order intake and became more selective especially as part of their previous success was built around quality of product and service, something which unfortunately they had lost sight of this in the drive for increased turnover!  

As they pointed out the old adage ‘turnover is vanity and profit is sanity’ is all too true. 

What’s important to our clients

We know how important it is to take the time to talk to business owners and key personnel within each business, not only to gain an insight into each business but to truly understand a business’ drivers and objectives. The role of an accountant then becomes great fun as we never know what’s round the corner or what challenges we’ll face. However we should never lose sight of the fact that a business is a collective of individuals, all trying to do their best and some days they just need that arm around their shoulders and that grey haired bean counter there to remind them of his quest in life…

If you have any questions for David or the Manufacturing team please get in touch, or visit our website for information on the services we provide to our manufacturing clients.

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