The role of a good accountancy firm extends far beyond just ensuring that clients comply with their statutory obligations.

According to Scott Bentley, a partner at the Truro office of PKF Francis Clark, “it is more about providing a complete business advisory service that helps clients to meet all the challenges they face and to make the most of all the opportunities that may arise”.

He says: “Our aim is to help our clients manage, plan and grow their businesses through expert accountancy and taxation advice. This includes specialist sector expertise and a very broad skill set which enables us to support clients of all sizes with a partner-led and bespoke advisory service.”

The award-winning firm is proud to act for a wide spectrum of business clients maintaining a strong focus on owner managed businesses, start-ups and family enterprises which remain the bedrock of the Cornish economy. Its strength in depth means that it can also offer services to businesses throughout Cornwall at every level, from the largest corporate enterprise to dealing with simple tax returns.

Today PKF Francis Clark is the largest independent firm of chartered accountants in the south west with 59 partners and 600 staff across eight offices. The prominent Truro office has a full service offering for clients with nine partners and 106 staff, the majority of which have or are working towards well respected-professional qualifications.

Last year, Francis Clark joined PKF, a highly respected international network of chartered accountants enabling it to provide better support to clients locally, regionally, nationally and around the world. PKF Francis Clark’s clients include family businesses, corporate entities, professional firms, not-for-profit organisations and private clients.

The firm has specific expertise in the agriculture, education, food & drink, renewables, healthcare, leisure & tourism, charities, manufacturing & engineering, property & construction and marine sectors. There are also specialists advising on international taxation, corporate finance, VAT and Customs Duty, financial planning, business recovery, forensic and valuation services.

Andrew Allen, Truro partner and member of the firm’s management board, says: “The success of the Truro office has been based on the combination of detailed understanding of the local economy in which we operate, personal relationships with in-depth specialist expertise; the highest standard of client service and an added value approach that involves strategic and financial guidance, taxation advice, wealth management and succession issues over and above simply regulatory compliance.”

Fellow partner, Tom Roach, adds: “Another important factor in shaping the quality and consistency of the services we offer is our ability to build very strong teams.

“This is largely due to developing an enlightened recruitment and training programme based on a combination of thought-provoking and challenging work with rewarding and structured career opportunities. Our continued success is a direct result of the quality of people we employ and the training, support and career opportunities we provide.”

Recent changes at the firm’s Truro office have included the appointment of Daniel Sladen, a corporate and business tax director whohas enjoyed a career in London working for Barclays and KPMG. Sladen, a chartered tax adviser, joins what was already the largest team of chartered tax advisers in the county.

In addition, Jason Mitchell, a key member of the firm’s corporate team for the last 15 years, is to be promoted to partner on August 1. He provides accountancy and advisory services to a wide range of law firms and family businesses, and is the latest in a long line of partners in the Truro office who have progressed having originally joined the firm as a trainee.

Another notable addition to the Truro office is Julie Towers, who became the firm’s first VAT partner in 2006 and is acknowledged as a leader in her field covering all aspects of VAT but specialising in land and property, charities, not-for-profit, international issues as well as healthcare.

Being proactive and keeping ahead of the game at every step is important, according to business service partner, Brian Harvey.

“Recent examples of this,” he says, “include identifying the need for a dedicated audit partner in the Truro office, resulting in the appointment of Duncan Leslie who has made great steps in improving our offering in this area.

“We also recognise that the forthcoming introduction of Making Tax Digital will have a wide ranging impact on our business as well as our clients and we have put in place a dedicated team working on this and offering practical solutions for our clients.”

Daniel Sladen, Jason Mitchell and Julie Towers

Another key service PKF Francis Clark provides for the Cornwall business community is its annual Finance in Cornwall presentation. Now in its tenth year, the event has become an integral part of Cornwall Business Week. The seminar features presentations from sources of grant, debt and equity funding as well as business support agencies operating in the region. The presentations are short and sharp giving delegates a basis for an assessment of which funding stream/funder matches their requirements.

There are also separate sessions dedicated to start-ups/ businesses who have been trading for less than two years and businesses who have been trading for more than two years. This popular, influential and free-of-charge half day event takes place on the morning of Tuesday, May 16 at Newquay Cinema.

Summing up the firm’s success, Bentley adds: “Our underlying aim is to understand our market place, our clients and the personal and business issues that they are faced with, and to act as one of their team and not just as an external adviser.

“This ‘relationship’ approach, coupled with the ability to draw on a broad pool of resources and to develop key areas of expertise, has enabled the firm to win and retain clients in Cornwall of all sizes over long periods of time. We build client relationships based on mutual respect, trust and loyalty – relationships which last.

“We also have one other invaluable asset. We live and work in the same place as our clients and we know and appreciate that Cornwall is a special place. Local knowledge goes a long, long way.”

This article first appeared in the May 2017 issue of Business Cornwall magazine