In Profile

As he prepares for retirement, we catch up with co-founder and director, Mike Richardson, to look back at his 45-year career.

How did you get into accountancy? I was doing my A levels and playing for Bath Rugby. They were interested in what my plans were for after I left school and were keen to keep me in the area.

I was introduced to David Robson and David Taylor who ran their own accountancy practice, Robson Taylor, and things really went from there. I signed up on an accountancy course at what was then Bristol Polytechnic and qualifed with Robson Taylor before going into practice.

How did you meet Derek and start the business? After a few years in industry, I returned to practice in 1989 and started my own business with David Reed, an ex-tax inspector. In the early 90s, Derek joined our team as our first student trainee and we have worked together, in one shape or form, ever since!

Derek and I set up Richardson Swift 10 years ago after the Richardson Groves practice we were at split in two. The rest, as they say, is history!

Who’s inspired and motivated you over the years? Professionally, David Robson and David Taylor were a huge inspiration to me. They were completely different characters and I aspired to the best of them both.

My personal hero is Bobby Robson. I come from around Ipswich and he made our football club the best in the land before he went on to manage England. Robson has been a big motivational influence on me ever since.

What will you miss most about Richardson Swift? I will miss the contact with our staff and clients. The people side of things is the day-to-day fuel for all that you do. I’ve enjoyed helping clients and staff, and seeing our young trainees develop and learn the business.

Looking back, is there anything you’d change? I have no regrets and there’s nothing that I’d change. I’m not very good at looking backwards!

On the personal side, I’ve never regretted buying something, but I’ve often regretted selling something. I also wish that I’d never taken up golf – it is the most infuriating game and can drive you mad!

What is your favourite memory of Richardson Swift? The moments that stand out are where we’ve made a life changing difference to a client, such as helping them to sell a business, or negotiate a settlement with the Revenue over a tax issue.

Funniest moment? As a rule, accountancy isn’t normally a funny business, but there have been some moments! Jerold Wells, one of Benny Hills’ sidekicks, was a client and whenever he came into the office, he had the whole place in stitches. He caused chaos and no one ever got any work done until he left the building!

What aspects of your job have you enjoyed most? The variety there is in terms of clients and work. It can be very demanding having to switch your mind from one thing to the next, but it’s very interesting too.

The thing I won’t miss is the regulation, which has got worse over the years. It is one of my pet hates, as I don’t like being told what to do!

Have you got any plans for retirement? I have no big plans yet…just catching up with paperwork, house maintenance and my charity and cricket club accountancy work. I bought a piece of old railway line recently and plan to tidy it back up again. It’s by the river, so I can do some fishing at the same time. I’ll also be playing golf once a week, which will give me a chance to practise a bit more!

What are you looking forward to most in your retirement? Having an emptier mind and the time to get on top of things!

What makes you most proud? Seeing the younger staff come through the business and grow. Plus, I often hear through third parties that Richardson Swift has a great reputation in the city. This feedback is a result of everybody and everything in the business and that makes me very proud.

Any last words or parting wisdom? For our trainees, the best advice I was ever given was “never give in”. However long it takes to train, it’s always worth it and your qualification will make all the difference.

One of my other favourite sayings is from the former footballer, Vinny Jones: “Winning doesn’t really matter as long as you win!” And, for the procrastinators, a Benny Hill poem:

Don’t put off till tomorrow what you could do today,

as it might bring you sorrow.

If you do it today and you like it,

you can do it again tomorrow.