Awards 2003: Medium Firm

The Medium Firm category is a tough one. Firms are not quite large enough to be recognised on size alone, nor are they small enough to be able to define themselves clearly by geography or specialism.

Yet Wingrave Yeats’ victory bears testimony to how rapidly the firm has grown in the last four years in terms of building an impressive list of clients, growing revenues and profits and ensuring a strong, close-knit team.

In all these areas, Wingrave Yeats has excelled. Its list of clients continues to grow and now includes a number of companies within the FTSE100 conglomerate, the Carnival Group, as well as US-listed hotel chain Wyndham International.

But it has also kept itself close to the ‘coal face’ providing services to smaller clients, with companies and organisations like vinyl record reseller Simply Vinyl, kitchen installer Inca Interiors and wildlife conservation group Tusk Trust.

In terms of pure financials the firm has thrived on change, having tripled in size in four years with partner earnings up 18% in 2003 on top of growth of 27% that had been recorded in the previous year.

In 2000 the firm generated revenues of £1.7m with profits of £418,000.

Its last accounts showed an almost doubling of this figure to £3.3m with profits at £1.4m, or 42% profits against fees.

This growth was spurred by an effective recruitment process, which saw the firm carefully select first-year leavers from Big Four firms whose particular talents, it felt, would be more effective in a small firm environment.

Teamwork is key to the firm’s success and Wingrave Yeats has encouraged ground-up change involving all the staff in the firm’s success. As an example, each year the firm pays for every member of its staff to fly out to continental Europe for a day-out, with this year’s destination being Prague in the Czech Republic.

In addition, the firm has set up its own intranet, bonus scheme for managers, business unit and partner performance reporting and manager training day in Spain.

The judges were looking for a medium-sized firm that added significant value to its clients and described the entry as ‘very impressive in this regard’.

Indeed, in the appendix to its tome-like submission document, the firm included numerous testimonials from its clients, praising its ‘personalised service’, its handling of transactions, and for being ‘responsive and professional’.

Improvements to client services were driven by the firm’s three founding concepts: Big Four excellence; hands-on advice; and commercial and financial expertise.

In real terms, the firm proved highly innovative in ensuring an improved service, including the introduction of web-based accounting and HR systems for client real-time processing, secure client site access for reporting and office-wide wireless networking.

Not surprising then that one judge described the firm as being ‘highly creative and forward thinking’.

Wingrave Yeats has also expanded the range of services it now offers, including corporate finance and surrogate FD work, financial management solutions, risk management and virtual chief technology officer services.

This year is a special one for the firm as it celebrates its 20th anniversary.

Then institute president Peter Wyman made a special presentation to founding partners Christopher Jenkins and Philip Hedges earlier this year.


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