In the spotlight: Harts Ltd

Chris Bentley, Tax and Forensics Director
Harts Ltd

I qualified as a chartered accountant and then as a tax advisor during a 10 year spell with a big four firm in Manchester. I now enjoy the challenge of helping small and medium sized businesses navigate and benefit from the complexity of the tax system. Outside work I have three young children and when time allows I'm a keen runner, regularly competing on the fells.

1. Tell us a bit about your business?

At Harts, there are around 35 of us providing the full range of accountancy services including bookkeeping, accounts, payroll and tax returns. There is more to accountancy than compliance and we are also often our client’s business advisor as well as their provider of valuable tax planning advice.

The majority of our customers are owner managed businesses, but we don’t have a particular customer type. As a firm we work with businesses in all sectors and our customers range from individuals and start up businesses through to companies with a turnover in excess of £30 million.

2. Tell us about your role within the business?

I have the title Tax and Forensics Director and in this role I enjoy getting to meet clients and helping them with their tax problems, whether that is planning for the future or limiting the damage from “this letter I’ve received”.

I am also regularly asked about the forensics part of my role. Unfortunately despite the glamorous title you don’t want to need a forensic accountant as it normally means something has gone wrong – the majority of this work is in using my accountancy expertise to calculate a loss of profits, or in valuing businesses for divorce purposes!

But it goes without saying that none of this would be possible without support from my fellow directors and the team

3. In your opinion, what is the most interesting/high profile/exciting project you or your business has worked on?

Although some may disagree, I find tax an exciting area to work in most days because you find this is where we can truly add value for clients. Our work is discreet, so rather than discussing a case study I thought sharing a testimonial from a client who has experienced our services would be more appropriate.

"Harts are one of the premier accounting firms in Macclesfield and the NW. They know their stuff (a lot of big-4 folks who thought better of it and went to work with them instead) and are friendly, too."

4. How long has the business been operating and how long have you been based in Macclesfield?

We can trace the firm’s predecessors in Macclesfield back to Dakin & Co in the mid twentieth century, but the Harts name comes from a partnership with Hart Shaw, a Yorkshire firm in the 1990s. Harts has been an independent practice in Macclesfield since 2005 and we have been in our current offices on Westminster Road since 2010.

5. What made you choose Macclesfield as a place to base your business?

There are plenty of independent businesses in the area who don’t want to travel into Manchester but want the services that normally only come from a city centre accountant. And it helps that all three of the directors of the firm are Macclesfield born and bred. 

6. What’s the best thing about working in Macclesfield?

I’m not doing a job interview, so I can be honest – I don’t have to waste time travelling and can get home easily to spend time with my young family. 

7. Do you have any specific future goals for the business that you would like to share?

We see the regeneration of town centre, providing employment and supporting local businesses as an important part of our continuing position as one of Macclesfield’s leading professional services firms.

In addition, a few months ago we were reviewing our strategic vision and during the course of the meeting had a lightbulb moment. It dawned on us that our key market wasn’t the bigger businesses we sought, but owner managed businesses typically with turnover between £500k and £10m. Yes we can and do work with both smaller and larger businesses, but find that businesses of this size are typically the most interesting and those where we can add most value.

To find out more, visit http://www.harts-ltd.com

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