Since joining us over 20 years ago Ben Hayes has transformed our audit and assurance service offering into one of our firms’ most thriving departments. Having progressed through the ranks during his illustrious career, earlier this year Ben became Wenn Townsend’s latest partner, enabling him to bring his experience and knowledge to a wider client base. As director of audit and assurance Ben honed his craft, building an audit team who can provide a high level of service, so clients can be assured they’re in safe hands, whilst colleagues can train, learn and develop their skills. With the audit department being passed to the highly adept Michael Laws we spoke to Ben about his transition to partner and his career so far.
Congratulations Ben, how did it feel being made partner?
I was delighted to take on the partner role. Having been a responsible individual for a couple of years prior, and now with significant experience of working with clients from the beginning to the end of their process, it felt like a natural step forward both for me and the firm. I am also excited to have further involvement in driving the business and helping us to continue with our recent growth.
As one of the firms audit partners, what makes our audit service so good?
We benefit from a very well established and experienced group of senior managers within the team, and this has made the move to partner possible. Michael Laws is perfectly suited to step up into my old role as Director of Audit and Assurance, supported by the other managers, and he will ensure that we continue to review and refresh our service offering. Our core principles will not change – with a fundamental focus on client service based around a mindset of collaboration and support for our clients. This ensures that the audit process, whilst thorough and comprehensive, remains as efficient and pain-free for the client as possible.
Why should a prospective client want to work with you?
At this point I have 20 years of experience in audit, starting out as a graduate trainee and working through to Senior, Manager, Director and now Partner. I have been very hands-on in terms of audit work throughout the changes to International Auditing Standards, including the significant recent updates, and thus hopefully can offer a nice mix of experience and current technical knowledge in the sector.
I pride myself on my responsiveness and availability to clients and will continue to ensure that both our team and I uphold this standard moving forward. Our client base is so wide-ranging that our experience and knowledge base is comprehensive, and we can apply that to all clients irrespective of sector/size. As we always say, the key to a ‘successful’ audit is in the planning, and we offer a clear and extensive audit planning document to ensure that both management and trustees/directors are happy with the audit plan, information required, and approach to key areas before we start the detailed work.
How has your career so far informed your work as partner?
Having directly overseen the audit team for many years, I am acutely aware that the most important thing we have, and indeed that which we offer our clients, is our staff. It is crucial to us that we continue to be able to provide senior staff with both the relevant expertise, and the ability to work closely with our clients. I am delighted that we have such strong team leaders not just in audit, but in all our service departments. Although a significant part of my work will still be in the audit sector, I am conscious that my client base has a variety of requirements in other sectors such as accounting, taxation and payroll, and I am keen to ensure that our service levels are consistent across all aspects of our work. Key to that is me remaining freely available to both clients and staff alike, to assist with any potential issues and to continue to develop long-term working relationships.
In 20 years’ time what do you want to have achieved as partner?
A previous (now happily retired) partner once told me that the partner role here is seen as that of a custodian – we are proud of our independent status and the partnership group are keen to ensure that they leave the firm in a stronger place then they found it. That seems to me to be a key driving factor, and I am confident that we are currently well set up to continue to drive growth, both in the size of the firm and in the quality of service offered to our client base. If in 20 years’ time I am in a position to be ‘happily retired’ – then that would also be a nice outcome!