Overview: attack of the Brainiac

Three years ago, Damon Brain was made partner at East Anglia practice Duncan
& Toplis at the age of 26, making him the youngest partner in the practice,
as well as one of the youngest in the UK.

With success in mind, Brain has taken an unconventional route into the
profession. As Accountancy Age Accounting Technician of the Year 2006,
Brain has also been recognised for his unusual career path.

After completing his A levels, he turned to the AAT qualification as his
route into the world of practice. Having taken advice and considered the more
traditional option of university, and then an ACA training contract, Brain
decided he wanted to begin his business life as soon as possible.

It wasn’t that Brain was determined to take a contrary path just for the sake
of it. ‘I realised I didn’t have to take the traditional route into business and
knew I would not be held back by taking the AAT route,’ he says.

Brain looked at three accountancy firms in his home town of Boston in
Lincolnshire. Duncan & Toplis was one of the more prominent firms in Boston.
The firm now has nine offices, including Grantham, Bolton, Newark and Stamford.

Brain found his niche early on in his career at Duncan & Toplis. From his
first day, with a colleague showing him how to turn a carrier bag full of books
and receipts into a set of accounts, he became immersed in the nitty-gritty of
general practice.

He left Duncan & Toplis for a while, but returned a few years later. This
time the firm wanted to expand into Lincoln and open an office there – just at a
point when Brain was wondering what to do next. Brain saw the opportunity as a
chance to really establish himself on the local business scene. He set about
marketing the new office and divided his time between this and chargeable work
for the firm’s Newark branch.

By the end of the first two years, the new office had acquired 200 clients.
Over the next two years, another 150 were listed on the firm’s client roster,
with numbers continuing to grow.

He believes strongly in the need to put a personal face on professionalism.
‘People aren’t going to work with the scary, grey-suited accountant.’

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