Accounts are not only laborious but it’s a mine field. Finding the right accountant for your business can also be, as they say, extremely taxing. Lewis Ballard, based in Cardiff, are an award-winning accountants owned and run by real people who get the job done and leave you to run your business. We chat to owners Neil and Janet Ballard to find out more.
When was the business established?
JANET: Thebusinesswas rstestablished in 1976; Neil joined in 1989 and became a partner in 1992. Lewis Ballard Limited was formed on 1st November 2009 when Neil and I took over the whole business.
Who owns the business?
NEIL: There are four Directors – Janet and I own 80% (40% each). Sian Lloyd and Johanna Evans own 10% each.
How many people do you employ?
JANET: We employ twenty people at present but are recruiting for more.
How many clients do you have?
NEIL: We have 448 clients.
Please outline the services you offer.
JANET: We offer clients a holistic approach which includes business development advice, business coaching, tax planning, inheritance tax, trusts and wealth management. We help them at every stage from starting a business to their exit strategy, ensuring they maximise results and protect and retain as much of their income as possible throughout. Alongside this we provide routine compliance services such as Accounts, Tax, VAT and Payroll.
NEIL: At this time of year many people are panicking because their tax affairs aren’t in order, the 31st January deadline is looming and they are facing potential hefty tax bills or late ling penalties. Our advice to anyone worrying about this, whether you’ve been too busy or you’ve forgotten, is there’s still time to organise things, but you do need to act quickly. Find yourself an accountant who will not only help you now, but won’t let you fall behind again. You must know your tax liabilities and how your business is doing in real-time to capitalise on opportunities or nip any problems in the bud. If all your accountant is concerned about is meeting the tax deadline and avoiding nes, how will you ever know how you are really doing?
What type of clients do you work with?
JANET: We work with small or medium expanding businesses, giving them business and tax advice, growth strategies and structures that allow them to enjoy the success their hard work deserves without scary cing the life they want. We act for a full range of professions; from surveyors to electricians and restaurants to hairdressers, high net worth individuals and several celebrities (sorry no names)! We nd that whatever sector they operate in, business owners often face the same issues running their business and that’s where we can help.
Do you have expertise in a particular sector?
NEIL: Our dental and healthcare clients make up about 40% of our businesses. This specialist knowledge has been developed over thirty years and is embedded in our systems. Through our reputation as healthcare specialists we also have strong links with healthcare specialist bank managers, solicitors, IFAs (independent nancial advisors) and many other professionals, which means we have the contacts to help our clients succeed, whatever they need.
What do you think sets Lewis Ballard apart from other accountants?
JANET: Our approach for our clients differs from many other accountants. For a start, we don’t just give them the numbers; we explain what they mean and how to improve them. Our main focus though is adding value to their business and balance to their lives, by asking them what they want and nding ways to help them achieve it.
NEIL: If business is great, but they want more family time, we help them to build a business that allows them to do so. If, on the other hand, they are happy with their social time and want to concentrate on building a healthy bank balance, we help them to maximise their pro ts and if, like many people, it’s a bit of both, we help with that too!
JANET: We look at six areas of balance; Business Balance – to provide up to date gures, Tax Balance – strategies to minimise tax, Saleable Balance – to build a pro table business to sell, Life Balance – to ensure clients enjoy their success, Personal Financial Balance – to reduce personal debt and build personal wealth and Retirement Balance – to provide enough for a comfortable retirement.
We are very conscious that we deal with real people and life changes, so we are exible and offer what they want and need now and look at what they’ll want and need in 10 or 20 years too. People need different things at different stages, so we tailor our services to t their needs, however we nd the sooner they think about the whole picture the more successful they are across their life.
Why are you based in Pentwyn?
NEIL: We moved to Pentwyn in 2004 when we outgrew our Llandaff of ces. It’s ideal for us as it’s so close to the M4 and A48 or all our clients, both local and throughout the UK. and we have onsite parking for our clients and team. We originally had one third of the building but, by 2012, we were bursting at the seams again so we took the plunge and bought the whole unit.
We now have lovely new of ces, training rooms and meeting rooms for hire and ve rental of ces too. It has really increased the range of services we can offer, with regular seminars and training to help them grow their business, and wealth and property talks to help them create secure, successful futures.
Where do you see the company in the future?
JANET: We see our team growing by at least another 50% within the next three years as our clients’ expand and need more support and, also, as we take on new clients looking to dramatically improve their results. We are continually looking to develop the range of services we offer and intend to further expand this. Our team are trained in Kash ow, Xero and Openbooks cloud accounting systems, as we see cloud accounting as the best way to help clients stay up to date and ahead of their competitors and we see more and more clients going this way. Online technology is one of the exciting ways our industry is developing.
Since taking over fully in November 2009, we have been very focussed on the welfare and training of our team and recently achieved the Investor in People Gold accreditation and ACCA platinum trainer status. We already have a very technical team of quali ed Chartered Certified accountants, two Chartered Tax advisors, a Certi ed Payroll manager, AAT and ve part-quali ed ACCA accountants to provide expert advice.
However we also ensure they are trained as business advisors too, as although it’s important to ensure accuracy in the gures, it’s just as important to know what they mean and where improvements can be made. We aim to have a minimum of ten trained business advisors who will have a huge impact on the local economy by ensuring businesses succeed and prosper. We also aim to train local people and not outsource like many of our competitors as we believe employers have an obligation to put back into their communities.
Please tell us about your awards…
NEIL: We are really delighted to have our hard work recognised. We recently submitted several case studies to a national competition organised by AVN and sponsored by Xero, showing the impact we have on our clients lives and, as a result, we are now of cially ‘The UK’s Most Inspiring Accountants’ and we also came back from the national accountancy conference as the ‘AVN rm of the year’.
JANET: After raising nearly £80,000 for Velindre Cancer hospital in the last five years Neil and I are proud to be Velindre Ambassadors and we aim to reach our £100,000 target in 2016, by holding another charity dinner on 5th March 2016 and completing (hopefully) the ve day Ride the Rockies cycle challenge in September 2016.
NEIL: In 2012 we also became the rst Welsh business to join B1G1, a global organisation of businesses that support over 600 charities worldwide. We link a different charity to each service we give and every time a client buys we give. It’s great to have such recognition, but what really makes us tick is seeing our clients succeed and our team develop. So many business owners work ridiculous hours with no holidays, just to survive, so when we help them build a business that really works and gives them the life style they deserve,weknowwearemakingareal difference. Successful businesses create jobs and impact on the economy- it’s a win-win that we are proud to be part of and our door is always open to anybody struggling in business and looking to change things – just give us a call and that change can start today.
Cardiff CF23 8HA
029 2073 5502