Meet the MD: Adrian Smith of Adrian Smith Rating (ASR)

Meet the MD: Adrian Smith of Adrian Smith Rating (ASR)

Adrian Smith has a very hands on role in his own business, ASR. BQ caught up with him to find out what advice he has for other aspiring entrepreneurs and what he believes makes a great leader.

Describe your role in no more than 100 words.

My role is very hands-on. The world of business rates is constantly changing, and it is very important to be proactive and not reactive when looking at the future of ASR and our clients.

To this end, my role is to attend rating conferences and seminars on a regular basis to ensure that I am aware of any changes on the horizon than could impact on our clients current and future liabilities. I seek to protect business owners from being mis sold expensive professional services, when all they require is general advice.


What is it the company does?

ASR provides professional advice to the business community on all aspects of business rate liability with the objective of keeping those costs to a minimum. I am a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the Institute of Revenue and Rating Valuers and the Rating Surveyors Association


Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

I left full-time education in 1975 and joined the District Valuers & Valuation Office Agency, now known as the Valuation Office Agency. I was based in Hull, where I worked until 1985 at which time I moved to Nottinghamshire on promotion. I was then promoted again back to Hull in 1988. In 2000, I resigned and worked as an independent rating advisor, together with being a consultant to other firms of chartered surveyors. Since 2000 I have worked all over England and Wales advising companies on business rates matters.


What do you believe makes a great leader?

I would place integrity at the top of the list, but I believe that a combination of different qualities is required dependant on the environment the leader is to work in. For myself, these are the ones I try to maintain.

  1. Integrity
  2. The ability to listen and consider the views of others, but retain the ability to stay on course if after listening you still consider your course to be the right one for your business. You should also accept that a few turns are necessary if you believe you could be wrong!
  3. A sense of humour. Although being a leader is something that has to be taken very seriously, sometimes an unpleasant situation can be defused if it can be seen differently.


What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

The biggest challenge is finding the right people to expand the company. I sometimes forget how little I knew when I started in this profession 42 years ago, compared to what I know now. I need colleagues who are masters of the skills that I lack, not of the skills I already have. This may seem like basic business sense, but I am being honest.


How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

I love to listen to music, and listening to live bands.

I swim reasonably well

I ride motorcycles well too, but fall off badly.

I play guitar badly, but am improving …… slowly


When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?



Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about then?

Bullying or any form of discrimination is unacceptable. I deal with the problem, I give the perpetrator “that look”.


Where do you see the company in five years time?

In 5 years time I would like to see my company on the front cover of BQ magazine


What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Learn from the mistakes of others, not their successes. I have gained far more from other business owners who have been willing to share with me where they went wrong.

Look after your health. It is so easy to become obsessive about the health of your business without realising that your own health is being neglected. Keep the engine serviced, and you will get the best out of it. Run it on empty, and the engine will seize up!