Thursday, 29 April 2021 16:12

One Year On – An update from Andy Shaw

One Year On – An update from Andy Shaw

I signed on the dotted line of the AAB offer letter in January 2020, excited to be a Partner in a fast-growing, technology driven group and looking forward to joining the Edinburgh team in its new larger office. When my 20 April 2020 start date came round however, I was straight into remote working, which has mostly continued throughout the last year.  Whilst I have missed out on office chat and after work socials, I’ve still been able to experience the culture of AAB and have had plenty of virtual events to get to know colleagues.  I’ve probably been able to meet more people, more regularly across our three offices than I might have done in what was the normal world. 

I lead the Edinburgh office audit & assurance team and AAB’s public sector & not for profit sector team, as well as having responsibility for ethical matters as the firm’s Ethics Partner.  Plenty to keep me busy and I have thoroughly enjoyed the new challenge after over twenty years in my previous role. In that first part of my career I worked from four different offices across the UK, experiencing all sorts of clients from start-ups to FTSE 100 groups, from community trusts to local authorities and international NGOs. 

I’m around half-way through my working life and, having enjoyed working in the Big Four, I was drawn by the opportunity of joining a well-established firm but with a relatively new office, and importantly with a quick-thinking and “yes” mindset.

Reflecting on some of the highlights of the last year: 

  • I feel like I’ve got the best of both worlds in terms of the dynamic of the business. Our Edinburgh office has a hungry start-up feel to it even three years after it opened, and during 2020 the team and audit client base continued to grow.  We frequently work with the wider teams across all of our business locations, so I’m also regularly working with our Aberdeen audit team and clients; that’s 30 years’ worth of experience and presence to be a part of. 
  • The Edinburgh audit team has expanded in recognition of our plans, including experienced hires and a well-deserved promotion to Director for Stuart Rose.  It is a difficult marketplace for recruitment at the moment, with uncertainty in the economy, so it is fantastic to have been able to build the team. 
  • Like many businesses we switched to remote working overnight, and like many people I’ve never spent so much time at home!  A huge positive in this is getting to see my daughter, Emily, at various points throughout the day.  She starts school in August so this is really valuable time to be around.   
  • Remote working has also meant that perceived geographical barriers have been removed, in terms of the organisations with which we now work and the recruitment possibilities.  Audit tenders have continued at pace throughout the pandemic, with presentations performed over videocalls and relationships established remotely.  In person feels more natural in my view, but I’m pleased that technology meant that tenders were not paused during lockdown. 
  • The services needed by organisations have evolved over the last year.  In particular our virtual finance function and payroll & employment tax services teams are in high demand.  I’ve found this interesting as head of public sector and not for profit, with lockdown prompting public sector and charitable organisations to think differently about support functions and how they are delivered.

We have further ambitious growth plans for the next year and we will be welcoming more new people to the team. With our recently expanded team in Edinburgh, I’m looking forward to helping the new team members become established and making the most of their experience. Key to asking them to join us was what they bring and will build on, particularly in respect of technology, professional services, social housing, charities and IFRS experience. It is always interesting to meet young professionals eager for their next move.

It will not be a straightforward or easy year ahead given the headwinds that many of our clients are experiencing. The resilience across the board has been remarkable, but government support schemes will end and sustainability in a new trading environment has not yet been fully tested. 

So what am I most looking forward to?

  • Getting to properly meet the organisations I have been working with over the last year, all of them were new to me and I’ve have met only a handful in person.    
  • Being back in the office, chatting about things real-time, having working lunches, popping out to meet clients and even the serenity of the commute which has been lost. 
  • Growing what we do.  A key part of this is “raising our voice” across the Central Belt and I’m excited by what we have planned. 

My first year at AAB was not what I was expecting but I’ve really enjoyed it. It has gone by unbelievably quickly, I feel like I have done so much but also feel like I am just at the beginning.