Terry Doyle is a Partner at Clive Owen in York. He talks to BQ about the company, his career and his advice for the leaders of tomorrow.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words.
I work with business clients and their families, giving relevant advice to help them achieve their business and family goals.
My many years in the profession have provided me with a wealth of experience in business and personal planning and I enjoy this side of my work immensely. Clients value this aspect of our service and often use me as their ‘critical sounding board’.
My practice has grown from strength to strength by building a team of first class professionals who enjoy advising. Too many accountants process but don’t advise!
What is it the company does?
Clive Owen provide business advice and accountancy services to a range of clients across the North East and Yorkshire. We have three offices in York, Darlington and Durham. The business has grown consistently for over 35 years and now has ten partners and over a hundred staff.
We provide a range of services from general accountancy services to forward thinking business advice. We also have some specialist services such as Clive Owen IT providing IT for business, cloud accounting plus corporate finance and grants teams.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I have always worked in accountancy. I initially trained at Peat Marwick (now KPMG, one of the big four accountancy firms in the UK) in Leeds and then spent a year in London on their career programme before relocating back up North to Middlesbrough. I then moved on to manage offices in York, Dewsbury and ended up finally in Leeds as partner in charge of owner managed business.
In 1994 KPMG revisited their strategy regarding owner managed businesses and as that was my area of expertise, it offered an opportunity for me to join the Clive Owen team and set up a base in York. That was the best decision I have ever made and I’m still here developing the business and servicing my loyal client base.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
I think it’s a combination of factors but having the ability to listen carefully is a great start. It means that you develop an affinity with clients that is necessary to truly understand the journey they are undertaking.
That and the determination to do the right thing, however difficult it may be at the time, to drive success. In my job, you simply can’t duck the tough decisions in either your own business, or the client’s. You must be right there, front and centre, working with the client to achieve their goals and get the best possible outcomes.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
My challenges are probably very like those of my clients in many ways. As a partner, the workload is challenging so just managing the day to day takes significant time and energy, but we can’t let the urgent drive out the important.
Growing the business, acquiring new clients and developing the teams are necessary to ensure the ongoing success of the firm. It’s a massive juggling act really and planning is critical.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I have always had a keen interest in football and am currently Chairman of a Step 5 football club. I thoroughly enjoy it because it involves meeting and working with so many people with similar interests and it allows me to escape from the daily routine and pressures of the business. In turn, this then allows me to develop a clarity of thought when I return to focus on some of the challenging tasks at hand. It also gives me a varied perspective on tackling issues and problem solving in my own business.
A few years ago we bought a family holiday home in Sussex right by the sea. Next came a dog and now I also have another perfect escape from pressure. It is astonishing how a long walk by the sea clears the mind and allows clarity of thought!
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be an accountant. When I was young, I used to chat with my cousin who left school at 16 to train as an accountant. I remember him telling me that accountants did not have to be dull and boring and that it was actually a fascinating career. He told me he was meeting so many interesting people who were determined to create successful businesses, in their own way. They all worked hard and were very proud of their achievements and I knew then that it was something I wanted to do.
Interestingly, my plan B was to be a bus driver as I had a passion for bus travel as a young boy derived from travelling up and down the country visiting family! I still have a fascination for vintage buses and am quite happy wandering round vintage bus shows reminiscing!
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about then?
I really don’t like non-team players! I have exacting standards and my team know that they are expected to work together as a team to the very best of their ability to ensure exceptional customer service delivery. We spend a lot of time at work and it should be fun but everyone must contribute towards the best outcome for the client.
I have a talented team currently and I know I can rely on them to get the job done when I am dealing with other matters.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
The business has experienced continuous growth over the years because we have been quick to adopt new practices and technologies. We intend to continue in this, already being advocates for the provision of cloud accounting in preparation for the government plans for ‘Making Tax Digital’ when businesses will have to file quarterly tax returns online.
We have also developed some sector specialisms such as not -for-profit, academies and technology and have a unique offering in terms of corporate finance and grants. Continued success for us is all about anticipating our clients’ needs and working in strategic partnership to give relevant and timely advice to develop long term relationships.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Never close your mind to learning and always review new opportunities with an open mind. Talk to people and learn from their experiences. Pick out the best methods from those you work with and translate them into your style. Life is one continuous learning experience.
Appreciate the strengths of people you work with and cover their weaker points - teamwork.
People look to leaders to make the right decisions. Be determined, confident in your own ability, work hard and don’t be afraid to make tough decisions.