Having a competitive edge is important for any business and it is perhaps even more of a challenge for an accountancy firm to come up with that offer that makes them stand out from the crowd.
Robinson Rice Associates, which employs 12 people across its three Merseyside offices in Ainsdale, Crosby and West Kirby, is a full-service practice offering everything you would expect, from company accounts to tax compliance and planning.
But the firm, founded by Beverley Rice 17 years ago, has carved out a particular niche in Liverpool city region’s £4bn powerhouse maritime sector, offering first-rate expertise in maritime and shipping tax regulations.
“We think we are quite unique,” said director Dave Elliott. “Normally when a company is seeking maritime tax expertise they have to go as far as London to find it. They are pleasantly surprised when they find us right on their doorstep.”
Pictured: Beverley Rice and David Elliot
Although Robinson Rice has counted a number of shipping companies among its client base for a number of years, its membership of Mersey Maritime has boosted its profile in the sector even further.
Dave added: “We have significant maritime expertise and experience in-house here and being able to network with members of Mersey Maritime has given us a real boost. We have picked up work within other maritime sub-sectors such as engineering.
“We are now seeing real growth in the city region maritime sector. Certainly in the eight years I have been here I have seen how much Mersey Maritime has grown. And if you look around you see expansion at the Liverpool Cruise Terminal and at Peel’s Liverpool2 container facility. These are exciting times for the local maritime industry.”
Of course, Robinson Rice’s expertise and client list goes way beyond the maritime sector with the firm working with small and medium-sized enterprises across all sectors as well as offering its services to individuals.
According to Dave, two of the biggest issues facing businesses at the moment are the Government’s Making Tax Digital initiative and, of course, Brexit.
He explained: “From April 1, MTD has required firms that turn over more than £85,000 a year, to file their VAT returns online with HMRC via MTD compatible digital software and that is now very much at the forefront of the minds of business owners.
“I think there was a bit of apathy about it before it came in but people are now very much aware of it. We have been very pro-active with our clients well in advance of the launch to make sure they are fully up to speed with the changes.
“There is now a realisation kicking in but we are working hard to take as much of the strain off the client as we can. As for Brexit, that is obviously creating worry and uncertainty. That said, we think the market is still reasonably buoyant.”
Like all forward-thinking businesses, Robinson Rice is always looking for new opportunities for growth and its latest offering is a joint venture with a financial planning firm to offer financial planning services to its business and individual clients.
“It is early days for that but the feedback we have had so far has been really positive,” added Dave. “We are always looking at ways we can expand and take on new clients. Merseyside is really on the up at the moment and, despite the challenges, we are very optimistic about the future.”