What we do IS complicated – how we deliver it doesn’t have to be

Mick Frankish

The first thing Mick Frankish shows me when we locate a meeting room in Grant Thornton’s impressive and relatively new Manchester office, in the very well appointed Landmark building, is a sprinkler.

This was the fire safety device that was hit by a door, that caused the water to cascade through the building and disrupting the best laid plans of his predecessor Carl Williams, to get the team back together after the pandemic lockdowns.

Now firmly at the helm as practice lead for Grant Thornton in the North West, Frankish notes the multidisciplinary nature of the teams across the Manchester and Liverpool office.

Sprinklers aside, he says it was a supportive culture that his colleague and friend Carl Williams had built in the firm, with strong ambitions for further growth, that kept spirits up and made sure the teams continued working well together.

Inside Grant Thornton’s Manchester office

Frankish is now responsible for developing the 450-strong team across the North West to ensure they have the skills and knowledge to support clients across all sectors and markets in the region. 

An audit partner at Grant Thornton since 2017, he brings his 25 years of market knowledge across diverse sectors. He also sits on the firm’s national Governance Board. 

Building on Grant Thornton’s inclusive and supportive culture will be central to this, as will coordinating the expanding local partner team and growing the firm’s collaborative relationships with clients, local government, universities and business leaders.

In the North West the team has 4 audit partners, two corporate finance partners, 2 on tax full time and a restructuring partner, with the business split a third equally between tax, advisory and audit.

He sees the opportunities not just in picking up audit work – where his background is – but across the board. 

“I’ve been in Grant T now for seven and a bit years, the attraction when I joined was a really, really strongly established brand in the mid market in the region, a really strong regional player. 

“I have nothing but good things to say about GT at that point, but it did feel like it was in need of a little bit of ‘oomph’ to get some growth into it.

“And there were aspirations that were not being achieved around bigger, higher profile development of the business. And that was the attraction to coming in. 

“Over the seven years –  and I absolutely don’t claim to have achieved this anything like just because of me – has been phenomenal,” he says. 

At the end of March 2024 the firm published its 2023 Annual Report, demonstrating a strong performance that saw it achieve +7% net revenue growth to £654m and operating profit growth of +18% to £146m. 

The numbers have been helped by the restructuring team in the Manchester office working on the complex administration of Greensill Capital. 

“That’s a piece of work that has been drawing in resource from all over the world. We’ve got a number of people that have worked on Greensill, and clearly have been doing for quite some time on the restructuring side.”

GTs home in the Landmark building

He’s also very well aware of the importance of not just winning more audit business, but also the collective will within the profession to raise standards.

“Nationally, we worked incredibly hard, particularly in the audit arena to get off a naughty step. 

“And all audit firms tend to have a period of time on naughty steps. And I know what that feels like. And as a firm, we were focused on getting off the naughty step onto the good step with the regulator. And using that to drive brand and profile.”

He says that for three years in a row the firm has been on the top of the pile on all quality measures, and says beating the Big Four has been a huge monumental effort, but with huge rewards. 

But in the North West, he says his starting point was ahead of where the firm was nationally, they’ve kicked on as well and got some fantastic partners locally.

“Everything’s pointing towards huge opportunities for growth and to do exciting work to motivate and keep our people in on all those kinds of things,” he says. “Genuinely, the opportunity in the North West is huge. We’ve got some great PLCs in the Northwest, private equity backed clients, local government.” 

Where he’s also excited is with the corporate finance team, having promoted Matt Bryden-Smith to partner after serving 10 years with the firm and will work closely with Peter Terry, who will continue as head of corporate finance in the North. 

Peter Terry, corporate finance partner at Grant Thornton

“Pete is a fantastic operator. And he’s back doing what he’s great at, which is doing deals and living up to his fantastic reputation in the market.”

Frankish says he’s grateful to Grant Thornton for giving him the opportunity now, just as they did when he first joined the firm.

“It feels like this is an opportunity to pay Grant Thornton back a little bit. I had just turned 40 and they took a chance on me. I took a chance on them too, but seven years later, I’ve got an opportunity to lead the local practice which is absolutely awesome for me to have that opportunity.” 

The biggest lesson he’s learnt through his career is dealing fairly and well with other people. 

“Let’s face it, what we do is complicated. But the way in which we deliver it doesn’t have to be. It’s just people dealing with people. Let’s give people the opportunity to come and be the best they can be, and deliver to their absolute utmost the value that we can deliver to our clients.”