Meet the MD: Amanda Vigar, V&A Vigar Group

Amanda's career in the corporate finance world was affected by the instability which followed the 911 attacks. After two redundancies, she decided to take her career into her own hands, and has gone from her spare room to four national offices. She tells BQ more about her story.

Describe your role in no more than 100 words.
As well as managing the company and its staff, I do whatever needs to be done from the initial contact with a client to the strategic decision-making required to develop the business. I believe in leading by example and will roll my sleeves up and get stuck in during busy periods. It is not a nine-to-five operation – if a client is only able to attend a meeting during the weekend, then we will accommodate that.      

What is it the company does?
V&A Vigar Group combines extensive business experience with the expertise of Chartered Accountants, Chartered Management Accountants, Chartered Tax Advisers and Corporate Financiers.

It specialises in working with owner managers, has a reputation for having a down- to-earth approach and being straight-talking and concentrating on getting results that mirror clients’ needs, aims and expectations.

It provides business and financial advice, and business support including accounting and tax, monthly or quarterly management information, payroll and VAT, company secretarial and business admin support, raising business finance, buying and selling businesses and management buyouts. We are also authorised by the ICAEW to do probate work – one of the few firms in the country offering a real alternative to solicitors.

What do you believe makes a great leader?
Someone who has a vision, real passion and belief in what they are doing and who has the ability to inspire and take others with them on their journey.

What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
The scourge of late payment is the bane of many small company owners’ lives and, unfortunately, my company is no different to any others.  Often, we are the last on the list to get paid because clients think it’s more important to pay the people who supply them with raw materialsgoods for sale!

How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
Exercise is a great way of combating the pressures that come with being an owner-manager.  Be it running, swimming, cycling or a dance class – it not only gives me a real lift, but also gives me space to think.  When the weather is good, I have to admit I love being out on my Harley!

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A barrister specialising in tax and business matters as it combined logical-thinking and the using words to persuade others – an ambition I achieved, but then went on to train as an accountant as well.

Any pet hates in the workplace?
People with a ‘can’t do’ attitude who take longer to tell you how or why something cannot be achieved than it would to actually get on with the task.

Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
More offices in more locations giving friendly, practical and efficient advice to many more entrepreneurs around the country.

What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Have faith in your abilities and get on with it.  It’s very easy to find an excuse not to. You might fall on your face from time to time but at least you have tried.

Where did you start your career?
After studying law at Reading University, I aimed to be a barrister specialising in tax matters, and I went to Bar School before completing my pupillage. I then made the brave move to requalify as a Chartered Accountant with Coopers & Lybrand (now PWC) in London specialising in tax.

Give us a brief timeline of your career so far.
I was with Coopers for six years and qualified there before doing five years at Robson Rhodes and the best part of six at Ernst & Young with quite a bit of time spent in London dealing with high street name international companies. But I was made redundant shortly after 911. I had been doing a lot of work with US investment companies and venture capital backed start-ups and after the attack those projects just disappeared.  Within a year, I’d been made redundant again!

So, I decided that I wasn’t going to have that happen to me for a third time. This led to me setting up my own business in 2003. I always had been good at pulling in work and building trusted relationships with clients, it occurred to me that, as they say in Yorkshire, I should be doing it ‘for missen’.  

From that small start in my spare bedroom and handful of local clients, I went on to develop a specialism in freelancers and contractors (and still do). We now have four offices and have clients across the whole country.  Last year, we became one of the first firms of Chartered Accountants to be authorised to do probate work (something that previously could only be done by solicitors) – after all we are used to dealing with HMRC and often know more about our clients’ affairs than their family does.