28 June 2016
It’s easy to see why Jenny Simpson, of SFB Group won FirstPro 2016.
At just 23 years old she is already a fully qualified Chartered Accountant, with her own portfolio of clients and responsibility for the firm’s Coventry Office. She also finds time to run her local Brownie pack and right now can’t resist being part of the team establishing a new Guides unit.
We talked to Jenny to get an insight into the DNA of a FirstPro winner.
What did it feel like to win FirstPro 2016?
I know everyone on the shortlist for Young Professional of the Year so I knew the field was strong. It was really exciting when my name was read out.
If I’m honest I wasn’t really listening when they announced the overall winner. I was still on a high from winning my category and it never occurred to me I might also win the overall award. I was completely stunned!
What has been the response to your success?
People have been really lovely.
I’ve had lots of congratulatory emails from the Coventry & Warwickshire First network, colleague and clients.
What motivates you?
I love helping my clients with their business.
One had never had the conversation about his plans and ambitions. He had never been asked what he wanted from life. What did he want to get out of the business? What income did he want? When would he like to retire? Would he like to pass on the business to a family member?
These questions go a long way beyond completing the accounts, but with the answers we can help him plan to get the outcome he wants.
This approach really excites me.
Most people are just beginning to think about their career at your age but you’re already running a team. How have you achieved so much, so quickly?
When I was 15 I got a holiday job in an office and loved the atmosphere. Immediately I just wanted to get into the working world and get on with my career.
I was considering starting A ‘levels and there was pressure from some for me to go to university as this seemed the ‘norm’. But I didn’t want the debt and with the support of my parents I got my way. I left school at 16, came to SFB and started studying for the Association of Accounting Technician qualifications at CWT. I’d always loved Maths so accountancy seemed natural.
After three years of day release I qualified and got straight on with my Chartered Accountancy exams.
Every step of the way I’ve been working with clients, giving me the chance to apply the knowledge and see the impact I can make on real businesses.
You’re running the SFB Coventry office. What are your plans?
I want to grow SFB’s presence in the city; I want us to be at the heart of the business community.
What’s it like running a team at your age?
I suppose age is just a number. It’s whether or not you’re good at your job that counts.
I’ve had plenty of encouragement at SFB and all sorts of great opportunities. I want to do the same for my team and really enjoy the coaching and mentoring side of team leadership.
How do you unwind?
I believe you should give something back to your community so I spend a lot of my time outside of work running my Brownies unit.
I love arts and crafts and the girls in the pack enjoy having a younger leader. It’s always great fun and very rewarding.
I’m getting involved in starting up a new Guide unit at the moment with the view to handing it over to others to run in the long term.
Finally what are you aspirations for the future?
Right now my focus is on my career. I want to help my clients get the really valuable, proactive business advice they need.
Often the smaller clients are unaware of the range of services on offer and the difference they can make to their operations.
And yes, I do want to be a partner in the business; I’m aiming to get there by the time I’m 30!