The story so far…
THE VERY START
Clive Vernon founded the firm as Vernon Associates in 1990 “from the kitchen table and then an office in the spare bedroom” and right from the off he was determined to offer a service which was highly professional but which also tapped into the real issues of most importance to each individual client.
Clive had trained with a Reading firm of Chartered Accountants but he always felt that something was missing from the traditional style of service being offered at the time. He determined even then to do it differently one day…
During the 1980s he’d been appointed Finance Director of a group of companies in the vehicle hire industry and it was here that he’d learned so much about running a business. After six years and armed with that invaluable experience, Clive made his return to the profession but this time with his own name above the door – the spare bedroom door as it turned out! The 1990s were not the easiest of times to start a new enterprise but Clive worked hard at it and his fledgling firm grew steadily.
JAMES GOSLING JOINS
Having built a significant portfolio of clients during the 1990s, many of whom remain with the firm to this day, by the early 2000s Clive knew that he needed some help to continue the growth and development of the firm – enter James Gosling! Clive already knew James and his family personally and he was certainly aware of James’ prowess with mathematics – in fact, Clive’s own son had been at school with James and any time that Clive offered to help his son with his maths homework the standard response would always be “it’s ok, James will help”. That small phrase sums up what James is all about, always keen and ready to help, so he was going to be a perfect fit for Vernon Associates.
By this time the Practice had an office facility in Wokingham so when James decided that accountancy was to be his chosen career it was a no brainer to offer him the opportunity to join. He took to the work readily, sometimes almost exasperating Clive with his insatiable appetite for more work!
Clive and James proved to be a strong team and the clients quickly became happy to work with James if Clive was unavailable for any reason but it was clear that VA needed to source further office space as the workload continued to grow.
TIME TO MOVE ON
In 2006, VA moved into its own suite of offices above shop premises in Peach Street in Wokingham. Further recruitment was always going to be necessary in order to maintain the required level of service to the clients.
John Robertson joined the firm part time and is still with us today and then Mary Stephenson joined, also part time and also still with us today. At the same time, Clive’s wife Liz gave up her career as a GP Practice nurse to join the team and provide the firm’s administration and secretarial needs.
James duly passed his ACCA finals and qualified in 2008. New clients continued to join and, in recognition of his qualification, James became Client Manager and embraced the role with his usual and natural enthusiasm.
With the development of Wokingham town centre pending and the Peach Street lease running out, the firm chanced across a new and prestigious office development in Hurst. Beech Court had been built on the site of a defunct garden centre and looked like a potentially good move for the Practice. Number ten was on offer incorporating the very latest of office facilities.
A deal was done and the Practice moved into 10 Beech Court in 2010. The firm continued to grow and develop at its new home during the next few years and the huge contribution from James Gosling during his then ten years at the Practice was rewarded by elevation to Partner/Director in 2013.
TERRY FRIDAY JOINS
With Clive by now seeking to wind down towards semi-retirement, it was decided that the firm would require a high quality individual to work with James in managing the ongoing growth. This was also seen as crucial to the future recruitment of quality staff and thus the search began.
The CV of Terry Friday landed on Clive’s desk and it was clear that this was a guy who was making his mark in the profession. He had trained and qualified with smaller provincial firms but was at that time employed as an audit senior with one of the country’s top ten Practices.
Terry joined the Practice in James’ former role of manager and he effortlessly slipped back into smaller firm mode. It had also been noted during the interview process that he shared the philosophy of VA in putting the clients’ interests first. Footballing differences had to be set aside (Clive Tottenham; James Liverpool; Terry Arsenal) as Terry became a key member of the VA team.
As the relentless growth in client numbers continued, the firm set about the task of recruiting further staff and have brought in some high quality (and very much VA type) people. Louise, Danielle, Jo, Imogen, Marie, Zoe, Nicky and Charlie have all joined the team in recent years and each in their own way has contributed to the provision of a high quality service and the smooth running of the Practice.
In addition, the firm employs the services of specialist advisors who come highly recommended. Jim Monger (an Independent Financial Advisor) has been providing top quality advice to VA clients for many years and he does it in his own down to earth, straightforward and unpressured style which is so in keeping with the firm. There is also a specialist Will writing advisor and a specialist business funding expert available for those clients who may be in need of those services.
UP TO DATE
The last couple of years in particular have been exciting times for Vernon Associates. Terry Friday was appointed a Partner/Director in 2016 in recognition of his contribution to the development of the firm. In 2017, and by complete chance, the building next door at number 9 became available and so the Practice wasted no time in taking on the lease. The Landlords assisted in knocking through to create one building of over 2,700 square feet, thereby solving the problem of the Practice having effectively outgrown number ten.
As a result, the firm is now able to offer a fully equipped and furnished Boardroom for use by its clients and for internal meetings too. A break out area has been created for use either by the staff or for less formal client meetings and/or training on a variety of the software products which the firm endorses and recommends. There is plenty of visitor parking right outside the office doors so that there should always be a space free.
Mary Stephenson has been appointed as Payroll Manager in recognition of her work in running the complex world of client payrolls while Jo Harper and Danielle Meaden have been made Client Relationship Managers as they have naturally grown into those roles. As a result, each client should always have an alternative point of contact should Clive, James or Terry not be available for any reason.
VERNON GOSLING FRIDAY
So, we started right at the beginning and this is where we are today – with Clive’s semi retirement and with the firm being managed and driven day to day by James and Terry, now is the correct time to change the name of the firm to Vernon Gosling Friday and to carry out a re-brand to reflect a more up to date image of what the Practice has become.
In addition to the managerial appointments above, the three directors have taken on defined roles which more accurately reflect their current duties and status within the firm. Clive is now Chairman, James is Managing Director and Terry is Business Development Director. That may sound very grand but in truth all three guys will continue to be very much “hands on” with the clients and with their affairs, just as they have always been.
Quality client service is at the very top of the list of priorities of Vernon Gosling Friday and always will be. We started from a spare room ourselves so we understand that everyone has to start somewhere but the key to getting where you want to go is to seek out and then take the best advice.
So, welcome to the firm…