2023 Business Unit Year In Review

Oxford recently released their word of the year for 2023 and it was “rizz”. If we had to pick a word for our year it would be ‘growth’. You might have heard us talk about our growth journey a time…

James Hunt, Gunhild Dam, Lynn Wilson, Lauren McIlroy, Stuart Petrie, Graeme Allan, Paula Fraser, Jill Walker, Gordon Steele, David Purse

Blog21st Dec 2023

Oxford recently released their word of the year for 2023 and it was “rizz”. If we had to pick a word for our year it would be ‘growth’. You might have heard us talk about our growth journey a time or two this year. That’s because it’s something we’re all so proud of and something we’ve worked really hard to achieve.

We’ve acquired four businesses in this calendar year alone. Growing the number of people across our business to c. 1000 professionals. We’ve also seen international expansion with our Grand Rapids, Michigan office. You might be thinking why? Why all the growth? Why acquire those businesses. The answer is simple. We are a people business. At our core is a commitment to our people. That is our amazing teams across our locations and also our clients. Our growth helps us deliver an unrivalled excellent service to each and every client while also creating exciting new opportunities for our people.

Join us as we take a look back at 2023 with our business unit heads, hear what they made of this year and what they think 2024 might hold.

Audit

“I know it’s already been said but in Audit it really has been a year of growth. We’ve grown the team- since the acquisition of French Duncan we’ve more than doubled our team in Glasgow. We’ve been able to support clients in new sectors, which helps as we diversify the knowledge and experience, we have across the team.

Due to the growth of the group, we’ve spent a lot of time this year internally working on integration, enabling our teams to work more efficiently across locations. This has helped us to build upon our strong track record of delivering for clients as we share that knowledge and expertise. We’ve also invested in technology, adopting technologies that create more efficiencies for us to share information more readily with clients, this has been a great success and clients have been delighted with how they can share data.

With 2024 on the horizon our word for entering the new year would be “continuing”. We’ll be continuing to grow our teams and continuing to deliver an audit and assurance service that not only delivers but one that also adds value for our clients. We’ll continue to invest in technology to create a smooth and efficient audit service to help our clients achieve their goals”- Jim Pirrie

BUSINESS ADVISORY

“We end 2023 with a strong team excited about the opportunities for growth in 2024. New colleagues from French Duncan have integrated seamlessly into the Business Advisory Group. We’re now well placed to deliver exceptional service and drive out advisory work opportunities with our amazing clients quality SME client base. We have diversified the work that we’re doing to support clients.

We have a diverse, multi-disciplinary advisory team. In Glasgow Graham Dyer is leading a strong digital accounting team who will help support the evolution of our clients’ accounting systems by delivering technology focussed project work. In Ireland Aveen McShane is leading on our ESG consulting offering, we’re working with clients and guiding them on their ESG journeys using a best practice process we’ve developed.

We have a large Business Advisory team in a new location, Stirling, with opportunities to grow there, and the quality of our team across four regions makes us well placed to continue to deliver for clients across all sectors. Our priority continues to be to ensure we stretch grow and develop our team- John Beevers

Corporate Finance

“If I had to describe this year, I’d say it has been one of two halves. In one half we saw inflation rising to unhealthy levels.  Together with the mitigating increase in interest rates, this created fiscal instability.  In the other half, stability started to return, this created improved deal flow. This was influenced by PE looking to divest investments they had held longer than planned, but the other factor was in PE creating or growing platforms in markets considered to be “hot sectors” e.g. technology, engineering consultancy and professional services.

In our team, we were delighted to welcome our French Duncan Corporate Finance colleagues, increasing our advisor headcount by 33%. Their complementary client base, network, and sector knowledge has added considerable strengths, and  our shared collaborative ethos has facilitated the sharing of knowledge and ability to serve clients in new sectors. This gives us a strong foundation to kick off 2024.

Although transaction volumes will be down on 2023, we were delighted to be named top financial advisers by Experian for Q3. With the team looking to close out a number of transactions in Q4, we are well placed to have a strong finish to the year despite the economic challenges mentioned.

Looking ahead to the next year, we have a healthy pipeline of transactions and I believe the economy and the market generally are in a better place which certainly lends itself to improved deal making conditions. This combined with our team of sector experts means that we can continue to help clients achieve their goals and ambitions.”Gordon Steele

Hotel Accounting

“This is our first year being part of AAB Group so technically- we’re new here! Our word for the year is “change” because that’s been a really significant part of our year. A year of getting to know our colleagues and a year of continuing to delight our clients.

Our focus has been largely on homing in and developing what we do. Looking at the way in which we work and trying to see if there’s any additional ways, we can streamline processes or provide more information for clients. One of the ways in which we’ve done that is by moving client information to 100% online. This allows clients access to that wherever and whenever they might need it and it’s something that going into the new year, we think will be so important.

What does 2024 hold? We expect – more growth. We will grow the team further so we can better support our existing clients as well as bringing new clients the benefit of our expertise in the sector. We want to continue developing what we do- researching ways in which we can support the work our clients do in areas such as forecasting and benchmarking. These are two areas that we think will be pivotal next year as we are always looking for ways to help our clients by utilising the strength of the group to provide them with the key business critical services they need.”- Ian Bremner

Payroll & Employment

“2023 has seen a lot of change for our Payroll & Employment Tax Teams both internally and also externally. Being promoted to head of this incredible business unit and overseeing the growth, the changes and the strength of our teams has been incredible.

Our teams have expanded geographically as we welcomed AAB Payroll Inc into the Group in January of this year. This acquisition has only helped to strengthen our global payroll team as we’re able to truly support businesses or individuals working in the US. Having our own offices in the US and also in Ireland that cover the full suite of payroll and tax services has been a fantastic benefit to our clients and our colleagues.

We expect that 2024 will be a very interesting year for payroll, reward, pensions, and employment taxes. Just last month the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) released draft regulations around holiday pay and entitlement. While this is a welcome development, we are awaiting further guidance, expected in early 2024. There will also be National Insurance changes with thresholds due to change midyear once again from January 2024 as well as the National minimum and the living wages seeing some of the biggest rises since their inception. It looks like 2024 will be a year of change and I can’t wait to see how we adapt and overcome that change to continue delighting our clients.”- David Purse

PRIVATE CLIENT

“I’m glad to not be the only new person delivering their first business unit year in review, I think that alone really speaks to the growth the group has undergone. In April this year I took over as Head of Private Client. A role I’m extremely proud to hold in a team that is doing amazing things. As head of Private Client, I’ve been able to oversee a really amazing 2023 in which our teams have been able to effectively work across all of our locations on both compliance and bespoke advisory projects.

Much like the rest of the group we’ve seen some challenges but also some growth. We already have a fantastic team in Private Client and with a growing team at all levels it has helped us to deliver and adapt for our clients.

This year we’ve seen a real rise in interest rates which has been great for some who are seeing a rise in passive income for the first time in decades. However, that same rising interest rate is also impacting on others and paired, with the cost-of-living crisis it’s very likely that in 2024 we’ll see a lot of clients looking to possibly cut back even further, maximise and protect family wealth.

We have also seen an increase in international tax advice, with people working more flexibly post Co-vid and we expect that this will continue throughout 2024.

It’s been touted that there will be an early General Election in 2024. This year we saw a real focus on wealth succession and IHT planning that if the rumours are to be believed will only continue as people begin to prepare for the election. We’ll continue to keep our ear to the ground and help our clients to get ahead and prepare for the unknown”.- Paula Fraser

Restructuring & Recovery

“I think the very fact that over half of us are new really speaks to what the group has achieved this year and what they’re working towards. It’s easy to say- we’ve seen a lot of growth but the magnitude of that and the way that actually looks is really best shown in this article. 2023 was the year I joined the group- in the acquisition of French Duncan. This was also the year that the R&R team grew, we were able to add more experienced insolvency practitioners to the team which is amazing and has helped us to better support the people we work alongside to deliver innovative solutions.

We expect that in 2024 we’ll continue growing. Growing our teams and growing our services in new locations. Being part of a growing group is amazing because through the group we’re able to identify areas of opportunity to provide support to a wider range of people and businesses. Leeds is a real growth area of opportunity.

It’s the knowledge and experience we have that enables us to work with such a diverse range of clients and it’s that same knowledge and experience that leads people to work with us. We’ve had amazing successes this year- notably Gary Digney’s work as the Personal Insolvency Practitioner on a Supreme Court ruling that has set precedent. We hope to continue being able to have a hand in shaping the future of R&R in 2024 and beyond.”- Brian Milne

Tax

“I am delighted to bring you my first year in review as Head of Corporate and Indirect Tax. Being head of this business unit is amazing. I have loved being able to empower even more collaboration across the group by supporting our teams to provide an outstanding service that our clients know and love.

In Tax, we’ve been no strangers to growth this year. In September we welcomed 14 new trainees and placement students across our team. Watching the development of the next generation is a privilege and these people are already having a huge impact on our business. Our team has increased to almost 100 people spread across the UK and Ireland and we look forward to adding more people in the new year. It was great to see the strengthening of our team in the Central Belt of Scotland with the integration of the French Duncan tax team in April.

In 2023 we saw company tax rate increase to 25% from 19% for most businesses. While this has increased the tax businesses are paying, we are expecting 2024 to show the growing emphasis on sustainability and tax incentives for organisations adopting sustainable practices. We hope to continue to grow our teams and continue to have experts across our locations able to deliver an amazing service to our clients”- Malachy McLernon

VIRTUAL FINANCE FUNCTION

“It has been a great year here in our Virtual Finance Function. At the end of 2022 we launched our new bespoke service- Strategic Finance Solutions. This was created out of a need to best support businesses who are struggling with the ongoing challenge of retaining and recruiting great people in their finance teams. Since 2018, we’ve grown the team from just 2 members in Aberdeen to over 34 across the UK and Ireland. I’m so proud of that growth and how we’ve been able to meet the needs of our clients.

2023 seen the appointment of our first VFF partner in Ireland and also the expansion of the team in the Central Belt of Scotland. So, you could say we’ve also had a hand in the growth of the group. The expansion of our team and our service offering is so important in enabling us to better service our clients so I cannot wait to see what 2024 has in store for us.

We’re aiming to replicate the growth of our team, the service we’ve delivered and the support we’ve given in 2024, but even better. Our clients are likely going to see and face much of the same challenges in the new year so it’s all about how we can support them and help them overcome those challenges. How can we utilise the tools at our disposal such as technology to really revolutionize the way in which we work as a team to better help deliver for our clients. As we move into the new year those advancements in technology will help us as we grow our teams and expand into new sectors and locations.”- Lauren McIlroy

Wealth

“2023 has been an incredible year here at AAB Wealth and we are so excited to bring you a  short roundup of what we’ve achieved together. We started the year by announcing our acquisition of Kilkee Financial Services Ltd, increasing our client base, and Financial Planners, across Aberdeen. Team expansion continued apace with the appointment of new team members enabling us to expand our services into Central Scotland, Yorkshire, and Northern Ireland.

Our growing team also enjoyed team and individual awards success throughout the year. We were delighted to win the coveted Chartered Financial Planning Firm of the Year award last month, and even more delighted that our awards success continued with AAB Wealth Director Debbie Connolly being named as Financial Adviser of the Year – Northern Ireland & Scotland, at the Women in Financial Advice Awards 2023 but that’s not all. Richard Johnston and Tom La Dell were awarded the Vouched For Top-Rated Advisor Award as a result of superb client feedback. Jack Swan, Technical Manager, was also recognised with two Top Performer awards at the Insurance Institute of Aberdeen’s inaugural Achiever’s event earlier this year, a fabulous recognition of his exam success.

In 2024 our team will continue to provide a fantastic service to our clients, helping them achieve their aims and ambitions through a tailored financial plan. We all truly get so much from seeing how we can help each and every one of you, and it is a privilege to play a part in supporting our clients reaching their individual goals.”- Andrew Dines

AAB People

“2023 has been a year of considerable growth and transition for AAB People and we are so pleased to have embarked on this exceptional journey as part of this amazing group. We started the year with a significant rebrand from Purpose HR to AAB People. This has highlighted our strong connection with the wider AAB Group and has allowed us to offer a much broader range of services to our clients. We also saw AAB’s largest acquisition to date with French Duncan LLP joining the Group and FD People joining the AAB People Team.

This growth has given us a fantastic opportunity to provide our clients with a tailored service from our hubs in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and most recently London with our most recent acquisition of Elstan HR.

Looking ahead to 2024, we are very much looking forward to our continued expansion allowing us to enhance our tailored services even further. Throughout the next 12 months, in collaboration with our colleagues at Think People in Belfast, we will also be hosting an array of training and development courses to assist our clients and their teams. We aim to enhance organisational performance by building better workplaces and thoroughly enjoy working in collaboration with our clients to help them achieve this. Keep your eyes peeled for updates and invites throughout 2024.”- Louise McCosh

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