If the traditional image of an accountant is that of a grey-suited bean-counter, then David Rankin, Tenon Technology’s managing director, certainly does not fit the mould.
Rankin freely admits he does not regard himself as a traditional accountant, and that’s not altogether surprising for a man who spent the early 80s investigating music royalties for the likes of the Bay City Rollers, and who shares a grand-mother with Bono, lead singer of Irish super-group U2.
It is this persona that may explain why the relationship between himself and accountancy-based services group Tenon, parent company of Tenon Technology, works so well.
Tenon itself is not a traditional player in the UK accountancy world – it is a first of its kind. It has listed on AIM and was one of the first accountancy firms to move away from the traditional partner method of working.
With an extremely colourful working life already behind him, which has included working for Coopers & Lybrand in Papua New Guinea and Australia, Rankin now carries the manner of a man who found his spiritual working home.
Having worked for William Allan from 1995, he subsequently became involved with Tenon when the accountancy-based services group acquired the firm last October.
He says: ‘Tenon’s technology arm has been created to focus on the business issues arising from the use of technology and it is a job I am enjoying more than any other.’
Managing a subsidiary of a listed company invariably differs, he says, from managing in a traditional accountancy partnership.
‘I found I had got very fed up with managing within a traditional accountancy firm. But working for Tenon has brought the enjoyment back to my work, with that I mean a real commercial edge.
‘In fact, I believe the Tenon model has provided a real commercial shot in the arm for the whole accountancy profession,’ he says.
‘Tenon Technology is not an environment where managers can sit down behind a desk. It is essential we get out and do it, and that has brought a real commercial edge to my every day life,’ he adds.
The aim of Tenon Technology – one of the UK’s largest Microsoft Great Plains resellers – and that of its parent group, is to grow nationally, and the individual managers in the group are being given a chance to take a bigger view of the business than they might have experienced elsewhere.
And from a management perspective, Rankin’s day-to-day role has changed.
‘When I was managing for Williams Allan I was involved in the sales process,’ he recalls, ‘but now my role is wider and I have moved away from this and get others to do that now, while I concentrate on the management structure and delivering results.’
And Rankin is ideally placed to succeed in the firm as he has experienced this range of work within Big Five and mid-tier firms as well as software houses. A key philosophy of Tenon is the importance placed on the need to cross-sell, by making introductions to other divisions and in making money. ‘One recent recruit from a Big Five firm remarked that the difference between the cultures was vast,’ he remembers. ‘He told me that at the Big Five, partners did not really buy into what they were doing, where as the attitude within Tenon is a “what can I do to help grow the business” approach.’ To encourage growth and cross-selling, TT produces a hotlist of who in the company has introduced the most business to other departments so that individuals get credited with business introductions. This is an aim which needs to be fostered from the top down. ‘I use my understanding of the accountancy profession to create opportunities for them to feel comfortable cross-selling. ‘Accountants are generally very parochial about their clients and want to keep them for themselves. At Tenon, however, we see clients as Tenon clients and individuals are the temporary keepers of that client,’ he says. Rankin has undoubtedly helped to accelerate the pace of change already underway at TT. As of the end of August, the company was on target ‘within a matter of pennies’, in terms of turnover and profitability, and makes no bones about the fact it is looking to grow aggressively. Next year, will see Tenon Technology look to expand in Scotland and the West Midlands in particular. However with the recent tragedy in the US, the future has become a whole lot more unclear. ‘It seems the impact of 11 September will be the lengthening of the sales cycle, but we are a top UK player and our marketing budget for next year will enable us to get our name above the noise,’ he says. With Microsoft set to embark on national marketing campaign next year to promote its entry into the accountancy software market following the acquisition of Great Plains, Tenon is confident of taking a larger share of the market. – For more information visit www.tenon.com.
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