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Interview with Nicola Hilton, Director of Clear Business Services Ltd

Welink Accountants

Welink Accountants

Clear Business Services Ltd is a firm of bookkeepers and accounting experts located at 189 May Lane, B14 4AL Birmingham, United Kingdom. Clear Business Services Ltd provides a broad range of comprehensive financial services. With services ranging from bookkeeping, payroll, tax, and VAT returns to a more hands-on approach of management accounting.
The Clear Business Services Ltd team consists of fully qualified and experienced management accountants, which deliver a dynamic and progressive accountancy and bookkeeping service to our clients.



  1. Presentation of Nicola Hilton, Director of Clear Business Services Ltd
  2. Description of your career before working in accounting in the firm Clear Business Services Ltd
  3. Goals of the accounting profession 
  4. Qualities & Skills of the accounting profession 
  5. Developments 
  6. Personal 


1. Presentation of Nicola Hilton, Director of Clear Business Services Ltd



Introduce yourself: 


My name is Nicola Hilton, I am 47 years old, and I work in Accountancy in the firm Clear Business Services Ltd. 



2. Description of your career before working in accounting in the firm Clear Business Services Ltd



What drove you to become an accountant?


I graduated from University with a BA Hons degree (in Physical Education and Physical Science) yet found it extremely difficult to get employment in Environmental Science.  So had a good hard think about what I was good at and decided to retrain as an Accountant.



If you hadn't become an accountant what industry would you have considered joining?


I probably would have worked in Sport or Teaching.



How did you get to this position as an accountant?  


I previously worked in Industry (specifically Football) for in excess of 12 years but wanted more flexibility to take care of my small family, so made the decision to start my own company which enabled me to do this.



Where did you get started?


I started my company in 2014, primarily to help friends whilst still working part-time for my previous employer.  I finally decided to fully embrace working for myself in 2016.  At the start, my main worry was finding new clients and balancing all the work required to run your own company, but fortunately I met another accountant who was looking to outsource his Bookkeeping work.  This meant going from 2 to 15 clients in one single step!  I’ve not looked back, as this business partnership is still ongoing and growing each year with further referrals coming my way.



3. Goals of the accounting profession 



Introduce us to your accounting profession and your firm Clear Business Services Ltd:


Accountancy can be a technically challenging profession, with lots of rules and regulations to comply with, so for us at Clear Business Services Ltd the services we provide ensure that our clients see the benefits of using an accountant/bookkeeper, whilst also allowing them to concentrate on the important aspect of running their business.  The initial idea for my company was to provide my clients with a virtual Finance Manager / Director allowing my clients to look at the other areas of business such as growth etc.

I mainly focus on bookkeeping work, which I delegate to my two part-time employees, but I still undertake some of this work myself to stay connected with my clients’ businesses.  I have a few Accounts and Tax clients and I’m slowly building up this service in my business. At Clear Business Services Ltd my motto is to provide a personal touch so that your clients can relate to you and I also like to make them feel that their company is important to us.  As a company, my main focus isn’t on personal growth but on providing the best services at reasonable prices which are accessible to all types of clients, whether this is Sole Traders, Partnerships or Limited Companies.



What is your role in the firm as an accountant? 


My role is Owner / Director of Clear Business Services Ltd.  I specifically concentrate on Small Businesses, Startup companies and Sole Traders.



What is a typical day like? 


Typically the first hour is my day is checking emails and general admin for Clear Business Services.  Following this, I normally go through my work list picking up the most important and closest Deadlines first.  I have a couple of days during my working week, which I dedicate to 2 or 3 clients, as pre-lockdown I would physically work from their offices, so I have kept these days constant throughout the pandemic.  Most days can be methodically planned, but this sometimes is thrown up in the air if a client requests something out of the ordinary.  I try not to be too rigid with things, as normally my day does not go to plan.



In your opinion, what are the positive aspects of being an accountant?


The positive aspect of my job is the flexibility I have, which enables me to take care of my family.  As part of my job, there are always deadlines, and achieving these is extremely fulfilling and rewarding.



What are the main difficulties of being an accountant?


You never know what your day will be, you can have everything planned, then one request from a client throws things up in the air.  Making sure all your clients' work is completed on time, whilst remembering to take care of your own business is the most challenging part of my job.



4. Qualities & Skills of the accounting profession 



In your opinion, what traits are needed to be an effective accountant?


You need to be methodical, analytical, personable, a good communicator, and ultimately professional.



What are the key skills in your accounting profession?


You need to be analytical, a good communicator and good at problem-solving.  If you are working in the industry not only are you an accountant, but also the advisor to business owners at varying aspects of the business, whether this is HR, Accounting or Marketing.



Could you describe yourself in 5 words?


  • Honest
  • Hardworking
  • Personable
  • Dedicated
  • Determined.          



What advice would you give to someone new to the accounting industry? 


    Be prepared to be constantly learning, learn how to communicate with clients at their level (not everyone understands finance, that’s why they have accountants).  You have to understand so many industries so have an open mind and talk to your clients.



5. Developments 



How do you see your industry changing in the next few years? 


 Automation will become more and more prevalent in the industry with the advances in technology.  Also, with HMRC’s proposals for Making Tax Digital (MTD) for Sole Traders, it is extremely important that accountants understand the software available to their clients and the implications MTD will have on all parties involved.



How do you keep up with important accounting industry news?


  •    HMRC weekly / monthly updates
  •    Subscriptions to update services for tax, software, business news, etc.
  •    Attendance at regular webinars run by CIMA or other focus groups



6. Personal 


  • Hobbies – most of my time is taken up taking my son to his various after-school sports activities.  We also work out together (usually to Joe Wicks “The Body Coach”)


  • Favourite Thingsspending time with my family and friends (which has been extremely difficult for everyone in the last 12-15 months)


  • Free timecatching up on my favourite TV programme or reading a book.


  • Hidden Talentsused to do Tap Dancing and Ballet

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