“The biggest challenge our sector faces is how to stand out with a distinctive customer value proposition”

John Oddy is managing partner of Ascentis LLP, a firm he started 20 years ago that aims to help clients make more money, have less stress, create more time and achieve their personal vision of success. Outside of the office he lives in Ilkley with his wife, Lauren and four children.

Progressing from one milestone to the next is one of the best things about my job. As well as being able to make quick decisions, create an action plan, lead the team, gain traction on the plan, and then enjoy the success the completed assignment produces.

The disruption of technology is completely changing our profession.  For many decades, data processing and compliance work took up the business’s accountancy budget. Technology has freed up that budget for us to really help business owners, gain control, grow and enjoy their business journey. The big opportunity for us in the next year is to communicate this distinctive value to our target market of forward thinking businesses still working with a compliance firm.

The biggest issue our sector faces, actually affects all industries, how to stand out with a distinctive customer value proposition.  That means providing your client’s with something other than price upon which to base their buying decisions. If you can do that you go a long way to addressing another major issue, which is attracting the best people and inspiring them with your purpose, vision and values. A team loyal to a cause beyond the pay packet is a great asset in any business.

Back in 2011 when I began to see the power and potential of cloud accounting, I knew we had to prepare ourselves for a very different future.  Where we find ourselves ten years later – as a specialist on single cloud platform, with every client having dynamic, accurate MI at the touch of a button, as MBA qualified strategists, Wiley DiSC Partners, and Investors in People, we have already put all the advisory structure in place to deal with the new world we find ourselves in. Business owners tell us they want an accounting partner who has a highly qualified savvy team, who can help them develop long term success strategies, get their taxes right, give them rock solid financials, and troubleshoot the myriad of challenges that hit them throughout the year.  That’s exactly where we are now. The impact of these changes has been an influx of new clients from traditional firms, and an average annual growth of 27% for eight consecutive years.  However being a tech firm is no longer distinctive – its leveraging on that tech to deliver advisory services that is the key to our future success.

“Action, Traction, Progress, Success” – it’s the Ascentisology and is written 6ft tall on the office wall! Accountants are way too often guilty of advising, but then taking no ownership of that advice and how it might be delivered. And guess what, it doesn’t get done. We practice “extreme ownership”, constantly asking “what is the next step”, and take action to make that happen. The client then makes solid traction on a trajectory towards the successful completion of whatever assignment is in hand.

Many of the greatest lessons I have learnt in life came from my early failures – every cloud as they say… But one crucial thing to consider is, “If it’s not written down it doesn’t exist”. This applies to managing the expectation of what will be done, and as a record of what happened. You’re toast in the professional world if you don’t do it every step of the way.

There have been many great authors that have inspired me. In my early days, I learnt invaluable lessons from the likes of Stephen Covey and Michael Gerber. More recently I’d say Simon Sinek and Prof Steve Peters.

Away from the office, my passions in life are food, wine and rugby, and did I mention I was once the frontman in a tribute band to The Clash?! And remember I’ve got four children at home with Lauren and I, so it’s a madhouse, but I wouldn’t swap any of it.

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