A dynamic accountancy firm in Edinburgh has reported steady growth despite the pandemic – insisting that a relentless focus on customer service has paid dividends for the business.

As well as recording a 4% rise in turnover to £4million for the financial year 2020/21 – despite the impact of Coronavirus – the tax specialist has also maintained both client numbers and headcount.

The performance by Douglas Home & Company keeps it on track with an ambitious business plan to occupy a market gap it has identified between smaller accountancy firms and major players.

Darren Thomson, managing director of successful Scottish Chartered Accountants, Douglas Home & Co. Photographed in Edinburgh

Darren Thomson, managing director of the 70-strong firm, which has eight offices across Scotland and northern England, said: “In common with virtually every other business in the country, we’ve faced headwinds and worries over this challenging year.

“Given that, it’s easy to understand why everyone at the firm is so pleased that we’ve managed to weather what’s been thrown at us, while actually maintaining some modest growth. I can’t praise our team highly enough for the herculean effort and commitment they’ve shown to get us here.”

Mr Thomson believes the company’s ethos of providing a more personalised service than major players, yet a more expansive range of services than smaller practices, has proved to be a source of resilience during the pandemic.

He added: “Of course there is room in the market for firms of all sizes. But we believe there is a sweet spot between niche practices that offer a highly personalised service and the big four who are more impersonal, but offer a huge range of services.

“It’s a tricky path to negotiate, because it is dependent on achieving a certain scale while still maintaining personal relationships with clients. However, we absolutely believe in this approach so we doubled down on it during the pandemic.

“That saw us proactively supporting and advising our clients, rather than waiting for them to come to us. All of our directors are extremely hands-on with clients. As a result of giving them that proactive attention we ended up processing 2000 furlough claims.

“We were determined not to be back on our heels and instead tried to get onto our toes during the pandemic. So, we actually launched a new app which is free to our clients. It makes it simple to store virtual receipts, log mileage in real-time and also provides easy access to plenty of useful tax and accountancy advice.”

At the peak of the pandemic the firm realised clients were bamboozled by the rapidly changing business implications and constant barrage of information. So, within a few hours of every Government announcement the experts at Douglas Home & Co issued updates clearly explaining the implications, by sector.

Those updates also included helpful links for loan and grant applications and the firm estimates that around 90% of its 3100 clients made some sort of application as a result, collecting grant or loan payments it estimates to be in excess of £25 million.

Darren added: “With all of this activity, the feedback from clients has been incredibly positive. During such challenging times they really appreciated us being proactive and felt like we were in their corner when they most needed us.”

Clients of the firm range in size from sole operators to major corporates. As part of its growth and development plan, it is targeting businesses of all scales and sizes located throughout Scotland Northern England.

With its headquarters in Kelso in the Scottish Borders, the firm has expanded significantly since it was established in 1983, seeing it develop from a predominantly rural-focused practice into a modern and dynamic operation serving a huge range of business and corporates.

As well as being an early adopter of technology it has continually pushed the boundaries of the kind of advice it offers. Best known for traditional chartered accountancy and expert tax advice, its services now include business development, IT support, Wills, Trusts and Estates and more.

The relentless focus of the directors is to help clients make their business, money and assets work best for them, by providing them with clear and actionable financial leadership.

The six directors of successful Scottish accountancy firm, Douglas Home & Co Chartered Accountants L-R Victoria Ivinson, Mike Johnston, Sheryl Macaulay, Alan Drummond, Caroline Tice, Darren Thomson – Managing Director