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Best Practice: CBW’s Peter Winter

IT HAS BEEN a busy few months for Carter Backer Winter.

The Aldgate-based company recently brought in outsourced accounting firm Direct Control in a merger, creating a new financial outsourcing service called CBW Dynamic Accounting.

It saw the full team at Direct Control, including director, Nyall Jacobs, move to CBW, which specialises in corporate recovery, financial planning, forensic investigation as well as traditional accountancy.

The merger comes after it was named Accountancy Age’s 2011 UK Mid-Tier Accountancy Firm of the Year and brings the number of partners at the practice to 14.

“We’ve known Nyall for a number of years and we’ve worked closely with him,” explains Peter Winter, CBW’s managing partner. “We’ve brought Nyall into our business, no money’s changed hands and we haven’t bought his business.”

It was, though, an opportunity to grow for CBW, and – as Winter emphasises – a chance to broaden its scope, which includes tax consultancy, business consultancy, corporate recovery, auditing and assurance among others.

“We’ve been looking for business opportunities to grow, and we saw this as an opportunity to expand our service lines,” he says.

Previously, CBW had been outsourcing its book-keeping, which had proved inefficient and unwieldy.

“As book-keeping and regular accounting work is concerned, if you don’t have dedicated staff to do that, it can become very inefficient”, says Winter.

“Traditional accountants would have said for many years we have been ‘outsourcing’, so if you go back ten or 20 years ago – what we would describe as a ‘paper bag job’; tax returns, management accounts – all mid-sized firms of accountants have been doing that for a long time, and we were as well.”

It was eradicating that anachronism which formed a significant part of CBW’s motivation to effect the union with Direct Control.

“Looking at a business that has grown, specifically with a view to outsourcing the full offering to growing businesses and offering financial director or financial controller services geared to fast-growing start-ups, that was attractive to us. We spent a lot of time in our own business trying to ensure we approached these things in the most effective and efficient manner possible.”

It was a move that allows CBW a great deal more flexibility and efficiency, meaning the focus can instead shift to more ambitious fare.

“The business environment at the moment is very tough,” says Winter, “we’ve certainly been in a position where we’ve been invited to do work that we may not have previously been invited to do, but with general economic conditions, organic growth is tough at the moment.”

That said, doing such work is not a change of tack for CBW, more a string to their bow.

“We’ll hopefully be winning longer-term contracts”, Winter says. “It’s not a change of tack, we’ll still be looking for plenty of audits to win and new clients, but it’s new opportunity to go into a business in a non-traditional role.

“We have a clear vision going forward in terms of where we want to be in the future. We’re looking to grow. We want to have profitable growth, not just more turnover”.

Number of partners: 14
Offices: Single office in Aldgate
Fee income: £8m
Specialist sectors: Tax consultancy, business consultancy, corporate recovery and insolvency, audit and assurance, forensic and investigation, accounting support, online accounting, financial planning

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