Managing Director of the Year Awards 2023

44 | Managing Director of the Year 2023 Mar23187 Accounting MD of the Year 2023 (Southern England): Daniel Mepham With offices in Ferndown, Southampton, and Winchester, The Affinity Group is a collection of companies within the professional services sector focusing around accounting services for individuals, small business, and the flexible workforce. Having experienced incredible growth over the years since its inception, The Affinity Group can attribute much of its success to having an exceptional leader at the helm. We speak to him to find out more as he gains recognition in the Managing Director of the Year Awards 2023. As an accountant, Managing Director Daniel Mepham’s default is to measure success in terms of profit margin. However, as his company The Affinity Group (Affinity) is a growing business he has adapted his approach over the years to consider the right times to take a margin hit in order to scale up for growth. “I’ve set stretch targets with my Exec Team for the next one to five years, covering client numbers, margin and turnover, plus staff retention and satisfaction,” he explains. “After all, if we’re all miserable, what’s the point?!” Having started as the MD of a 10-person team, Daniel has recruited many people since then, creating a scalable structure of senior managers looking after the key teams. “It’s not easy leading teams in a business that’s growing as fast as ours, and it’s been fundamental to recruit the right people for the challenge,” he continues. “Between us, we’ve created a business to be proud of, full of incredibly talented and loyal people.” Having always been ambitious and had a drive to head up his own business, Daniel saw a great opportunity when he met with Sarah Holland and Richard Stillwell of ‘Stilwell Grey’ in 2015. Both Sarah and Richard had grown their accounting practice through word-of-mouth to a point where they either needed to start turning business away or resource up for the next phase of growth. With many of their clients in the contracting space and a large market available, Daniel’s skills and experience were spot-on to help capitalise on the opportunity. Daniel had big plans for the business when he first joined, however the growth Affinity has achieved is smashing even his expectations. From a business of one brand, 1,000 clients and 10 employees, The Affinity Group now boasts five separate brands, more than 80 employees and around 6,500 clients. As well as this, the company has moved premises twice in the last two years, upsizing on both occasions. As an ACCA qualified Accountant, Daniel spent the early part of his career working for accounting practices in Dorset, moving on to specialise in contractor accounting at Clearsky Accounting. Here he rose through the departments to become Accounting and Business Development Director, learning at grass roots level how to create and manage profitable and motivated teams whilst planning for fast growth. “Working with a wider to team to scale the business from a small owner managed business to a large private equity backed organisation taught me valuable lessons in business structure, resource planning and risk management, all of which I’ve used in the growth of The Affinity Group,” continues Daniel. “With the right people in place, and a clear business strategy, everything else follows, meaning we’re always in a competitive position.” Daniel believes in creating a positive and open environment, leading by example, and trusting his senior management team to make the right decisions for the business. He’s decisive, preferring to take a small risk to prove a concept rather than procrastinate, and he openly encourages his teams to do the same, with a nonjudgemental approach to new initiatives. “As an independent business, our strength lies in flexibility and agility,” he states. “We’ve proven this with our approach to the ever-changing IR35 legislation and Covid, both of which left other professional services firms failing their clients and furloughing their staff. We did neither, continuing to grow both our client base and teams.” Daniel’s steadfast belief that the hard times push people to make tricky decisions and take risks that might never have been contemplated otherwise have resulted in success and superb growth for the business, with its most recent achievement being held by Daniel himself who was named Accounting MD of the Year 2023 (Southern England) in the Managing Director of the Year Awards. And as for the future? Why it’s more growth of course, and Daniel cannot wait to rise to the challenge ahead. “We have a five-year plan which will more than double our client numbers,” he enthuses. “And with growth plans like that, we’re always looking for great people, so our recruitment drive for experienced teams, as well as a twice-yearly intake of apprentices, is ongoing. “We have made 10 acquisitions of accountancy practices over the last few years and we’re always on the look out to acquire others too – so quite simple, watch this space!” Contact: Daniel Mepham Company: The Affinity Group Web Address: