Ben Hayes is the stalwart of the audit department. As Director of Audit and Assurance Ben leads his experienced team in providing audit and assurance assignments to clients from a diverse range of sectors, but his client approach remains consistent, always going the extra mile to ensure their audits are as straightforward and synergetic as possible. As a colleague Ben works with you to ensure all work meets the standards he expects from his team, and his willingness to help his colleagues excel in their own careers is proven in the longevity and experience of his audit staff. To find out more about Ben we asked him a few questions about how he got to this point in his career and what motivates him in his role within the firm:
- What do you enjoy most about your job?
The best thing about the job is working with the people involved, whether that be the staff at the client, or the audit team here at WT. We try and advocate a collaborative process – although we have to report objectively on the accounts – we like to work with clients as much as possible to make sure the audit process is as positive as it can be for all involved. In particular we are privileged to work in a wide and varied mix of client sectors, and being able to help with some excellent not-for-profit causes is very rewarding.
- What has been the defining moment in your career to date?
That is difficult to answer – not least because I have just realised I have been at WT for 20 years come September. Significant moments come to mind:
i) My plans for ‘taking it easy’ when finishing University were derailed when Tony Haines called to say someone had dropped out of the training intake for September 2002 – and would I like to come and interview. I distinctly remember Tony finding out I played cricket – and most of the interview being based around chatting about that! In any event, that was enough for him to offer me a job and put me on my current path.
ii) ACA qualification in 2005 – and achieving first time passes in all of the exams within 2 years of starting. I think back to the early days when I didn’t have a clue about debits and credits – and had significant doubts I would make the grade. Very grateful for the excellent and patient training in the office, and for the quality of study provided. I even managed a regional prize in one of the finals – certainly a testament to exam technique over work rate!iii) Working up to my current position heading up the WT audit department. I was challenged by the partners to develop and improve our offering in this sector in all areas – and I would like to think that the effort now bears fruit with excellent staff and a clear structure to how we work and what we offer our clients. I might be a touch biased, but I think we are blessed with a strong and experienced team that is organised in providing clear and detailed reporting to our many audit clients.
- Who would be the dream client?
Newcastle United Football Club. I have been a massive fan for getting on for 30 years of mainly disappointment and recently almost apathy thanks to Mike Ashley. With the recent takeover things look more exciting and they now certainly would have facility to pay over some decent audit fees!
If I could add Somerset Cricket Club also that would be nice and cover me in the summer months…
- How would you want your colleagues or clients to describe you?
I would hope that first and foremost my colleagues would say I am fair and honest – I expect committed and conscientious staff in our team and demand high standards – but I also will always have their back and help them out either professionally or personally. I think particularly over the last two years, work/life balance is crucial and we need to make sure we look after our staff and care about them. I don’t think productivity and happiness in work are mutually exclusive – if anything the opposite. Hopefully we have created a culture within the team where, although the work can be hard and stressful, staff feel motivated, supported, and able to keep learning and progressing.
With regards to clients, I would like to think that they find me reliable and organised. I pride myself on being as responsible as possible to emails etc – I might not always have an instant answer for them but I want to be able to acknowledge any queries at least so they know it is in hand – and I am fortunate to have our excellent payroll, tax and outsourcing team available along with experienced colleagues to call on as needed. Hopefully my technical knowledge is not too bad either and that is of some utility!
- What do you most want to achieve in your career?
I think if you can finish each day content, and with enough opportunity, time and energy left to enjoy your family and friends, you cannot ask for much more than that.
I have never been one to have a grand plan for my career – from experience life tends to get in the way of most plans. I think if you just aim to work as hard as you can do, and get a little better at what you do each day, things will take care of themselves.
That said – I am heavily involved in youth football coaching now with a glittering CV already, so if Newcastle United come calling in that capacity I am off.