Launch list, best small firm – PFK Cooper Parry

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In the latest issue of 20, we’ve saluted accounting firms that have shown a forward looking attitude to the evolving world of work, check out our Launch list of best small firms below. 

1. PFK Cooper Parry – A fun culture feeds into business success for these Midlands-based ‘accountancy rebels’. 

PFK has a string of accountancy awards, a first-rate wellbeing strategy and quite possibly the UK’s coolest office, which contains trampolines and nap pods. PFK, with branches in Derby and Solihull, is regularly cited as having one of the UK’s best offices.

What’s so impressive about it? April Bembridge, head of people and culture, says: “We’ve got trampolines, a free bar and a basketball court. We’re also trialling sleep pods.”

Is there a serious reason behind your funky offices?

APRIL: Yes. All of the things that are seemingly fun at PFK have a deeper purpose in mind. We’re a ‘culture first’ firm. We believe that, by building a fantastic culture, people will have the opportunity to grow and be nurtured. In turn, they’ll deliver amazing client experiences, which generates business success.

PFK is strong on promoting a good work-life balance. How does that work in practice?

APRIL: We’ve got an email curfew from 7pm to 7am. We recognise everybody has a life outside work, so, if somebody wants to leave the offices at 3pm to pick up their kids from school, they can. They’d have to log on and work that evening, though. For Mental Health Awareness Week, several PFK people came forward to share mental health experiences by writing blog posts on our intranet. It helped remove some of the stigma. It feels right for us to tackle these subjects head on.

How do you encourage team spirit?

APRIL: It’s easy for people to work in silos, never interacting with people outside their teams. We’ve split people up into school-like house teams, with everybody being issued ‘house hoodies’, which has created a sense of camaraderie. On house days, everybody comes in wearing these hoodies.

And unlimited holidays – do they really work?

APRIL: We’re not clock-watching, observing whether that person has walked in at 9:10am or left the office at 5pm. We trust people to get the job done, and to manage their time in a way they see fit.

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2. Price Bailey

The chartered accountancy firm scored highly, thanks to its development programmes and charity fundraising scheme.

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3. Anderson, Anderson and Brown

This Aberdeen- headquartered accountancy practice boasts trailblazing schemes: 20% of it’s staff in training, a ‘happy people award’ and £250 vouchers for staff who bring in referrals.

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4. RDP Newmans

With offices scattered across South-East England, this chartered accountancy firm has an impressive CSR, fundraising and development CV: support for local playgrounds, charity bikeathons, sponsoring school exchange trips, mentoring schemes and one-to-one training.

5. Armstrong Watson

Internal comms are strong at Armstrong Watson. The Cumbria- headquartered firm recently won a global award for its intranet.

Christian Koch is an award-winning journalist/editor who has written for the Evening Standard, Sunday Times, Guardian, Telegraph, The Independent, Q, The Face and Metro. He's also written about business for Accounting Technician, 20 and Director, where he is contributing editor.

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