The FORUS Board Blog Update

28 June 2022


We’ve reviewed, we’ve listened, we’re actioning!

After we came together for our second, productive meeting in York, we wanted to take the time to thank everyone for taking the time to fill in our survey as well as for the VALUABLE feedback.

So, what update do we have to give you from the last 3 months?


James Levitt – Accounts Senior – Scarborough

Firstly, I’m passionate about the people behind the business. I believe the power behind the Fortus name lies at the heart of its employees, and I'd love to enable everyone to feel as though all their ideas and opinions matter and are represented. So watch this space, as hopefully we can give all employees a voice!

I also wanted to get involved in the client facing strategies, as I not only feel passionate about the value of the service our clients receive but there are also other ideas yet to be explored.

That’s why I wanted to get involved in the local client strategy… but what’s the local strategy?

It’s been designed to highlight the clients whose fees don’t match the work that actually goes into preparing the job – highlighting ‘problem’ clients or relationships being held by the wrong people internally. The strategy focuses on 4 R's:

Reprice: we re-price the current fee and agree a better fee with the client.
Replace: we move the existing relationship holder to a better fit.
Redesign: we target those at the higher end of the ‘Local’ client group and look at how we can encourage those to become ‘MID’ clients.
Resign: we look at the clients who won’t negotiate on price, or the price can’t be justified, they'll be packaged up with the aim to then hopefully be ‘sold’ to a smaller local firm who can provide the service they need.

The project is led from the front by Carly Liston, and following on from the work carried out by FORUS Cohort 1. We’re currently reviewing the data from the last financial year and looking at all the previous comments to see if the changes put in place have been effective.

There's also a heavy focus on making tax digital. As some of you'll be aware, there'll be some major changes affecting hundreds of clients - meaning they'll be submitting reports quarterly to HMRC. A pilot's currently being built and tested as part of the Local strategy, to identify the opportunities and costs involved with training clients to use software themselves, or for Fortus to submit on their behalf.

Really, we need all office sponsors, relationship holders, potential relationship holders or anyone else to drive the change. Understandably this strategy has geographical challenges, as we can’t physically be in each office at the same time, all of the time. So, we really need support ‘on the ground’ to help the strategy become a success.

Hopefully, this gives you a bit of an overview of the local strategy but should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask.
Joe Eves – Service Charge Manager – Southampton

Fortus’s strong brand and values are what attracted me to this role over a year ago now, at a time when I wasn't actively looking to change companies. So why was I drawn in? Fortus’s DISTINCTIVE identity, ambition, values and focus on people felt like almost the complete opposite to the corporate world I had developed my career in.

I distinctly remember the FORUS Board Cohort 1 being announced and thinking “what a great idea, we're being listened to!”. I had someone to bounce ideas off, raise suggestions to, and just tangibly be part of Fortus’s growth which sounded like an excellent opportunity. I therefore set myself a goal at that moment to get that application sent in at the earliest opportunity.

I’m a coach for my son’s football team now, governor at his school, and now on the Employee Board for a successful and thriving company – I think I just can’t help getting involved with what I care greatly about!

In terms of what I am looking to achieve, aside from my son being the next David James for his football team, we each recently submitted an agenda of objectives, targets, and measurements for our interests. Mine involved Project 4, Technology, which I'm lucky to work alongside Shelly Main and Rob de Main with; but also Project 7, People.

We've some excellent ideas and real achievable goals over the next 10 months now, but it really does highlight how quickly a year will fly by. We have to be realistic but also understanding that boots on the ground need to see progress and feel listened to, otherwise what’s the point?!

Shelly has gone into further detail within her blog re Project 4, but I'll just touch on saying we're hoping to soon fill knowledge gaps very soon, and if you're as interested in Tech as we are, then stay tuned.

Likewise with Project 7, we've so much in the pipeline as a team, especially considering the feedback we just gathered from the survey. We have allocated each suggestion to one of the FORUS Board members, so that each and every idea is put into action, at least with a response of why something might be possible, or hopefully with some exciting news soon.
Shelly Main – Accounts Senior – York

We all hear reports on how the way we work’s changing, and how the accountancy profession in five years’ time will look vastly different to the one we see today. So when I was last looking at making a career move I knew it was important to me to be in a company that places a high value on Tech. Being voted onto the FORUS Board has allowed me to go one step further, and to assist in strengthening our use of Tech within Fortus.

What we've established is that the main challenge the Tech team have faced over the past two years is the amalgamation of so many individual firms. This has resulted in a vast amount of experience on a number of different software’s within the company, but with individuals facing gaps in knowledge of the systems we currently use.

What we're currently proposing to help us realign, is a Tech Board. Joe Eves and I have begun working with Rob de Main, and we’re now in the very early stages of establishing what a Tech team would look like, with the ambition to implement this during our term on the FORUS Board.

What we hope the Tech team would allow is:

• The harnessing of current skills within the business, and transfer of knowledge across the offices.
• Encourage all to learn and explore unfamiliar and new software.
• Highlight training resources available.
• Standardise best practice.
• Trial new software.

We'll be sending out a survey in the near future to help us further define what a Tech team would look like, we'd really appreciate your help by completing this. All feedback will be welcome!
Rukaiya Tarki – Audit Senior – Leicester

My focus is Project 7, specifically aiming to improve the training experience for apprentices within the firm.

We want to provide opportunities for apprentices across offices to interact with each other. This networking between trainees will particularly assist those who are based in offices with only a few trainees. From experience, I found it really helpful getting advice from other trainees who'd sat an upcoming exam or had been in my position not so long ago.

As Fortus is expanding, our trainee numbers have increased with many different pathways and qualifications across the various service lines. With the growing numbers, we want to make sure that trainees are able to raise issues they're facing and that they're dealt with quickly – particularly during exam periods when it’s more time constrained.

From the initial survey the FORUS Board sent in May, we received a few responses surrounding training. I’m currently working on further feedback from trainees, particularly across different offices and service lines. Please drop me an email, or happy to chat over Teams with anything apprentice training-related!
Euan Davies – R&D Technical Analyst – Northampton

The MID Client Strategy is the concept to re-evaluate all our ‘MID’ clients across the business and highlight possible opportunities to provide a more enhanced service to our clients.

There are a number of reasons this may be the case, such as; a Local client has grown significantly and is now a MID, without a designated CSD, or even recent changes to a client’s business have opened up more opportunities to existing MID clients (acquisition of properties, new foreign trade etc.) and therefore there’s now a requirement for additional support from Fortus. Additionally, education and upskilling's very important to help identify the challenges and match to solutions, which this process will help identify and support. Whatever the reason, we feel it's of vital importance to undertake this task now so we can map who our designated MID clients are, what opportunities there may be and help drive the identification and opportunity process – ultimately supporting the delivery of new services into clients. The work Nathan and I are doing will help to build a blueprint for MID classification that'll feed into the work completed by FORUS Cohort 1 to identify who the future CSD’s are, to ensure we have the capacity to manage this potential influx in MID client opportunities.

Currently, we're working on continued cleansing of IRIS data to help identify exactly who all of Fortus’s MID clients are (nationally) and undertaking profiling sessions with all CSD’s and office sponsors. We expect the data and reporting process to be complete by the end of Q1 and to complete the conditioning session by M4.

The result of all this hard work is an expected growth of c.20% to these accounts.
Megan McGuckin – Audit Senior – Northampton

The passion is in the people!

I've thoroughly enjoyed my first 3 months on the FORUS Board and feel strongly that all employee’s voice’s should be heard.

Progress and plans across all projects have been great to see at the early stages, specifically regarding Project 7 being my main focus area.

Survey feedback collated has allowed us to set actions for the upcoming months, ensuring we've the ability to deliver on your needs and desires.

The continued interaction and support with us as Cohort 2 has massively assisted in our progress to date and this continuing throughout the remainder of the year will only bring further positive developments… watch this space!
Tom Dovaston – Accounts Assistant – Peterborough

I was over the moon when I got elected for the FORUS Board and I'm very grateful to the colleagues who voted for me – thank you! However, I must confess – I was also quite nervous. Looking at the previous cohorts’ members, I felt underqualified and inexperienced to be given a role like this. Being quite young and in the infancy of my career, the idea of being in a room of senior and executive colleagues can be a little daunting (and there isn’t exactly a manual or set of instructions to follow!). Already in this first three month period, I've been exposed to aspects and a scope of the business a lot of people don’t get to experience. Being on the Board has pushed me outside my comfort zone (in a good way), and to think differently – certainly ‘more outside the box’. For example, I have to consider the commercial benefit of any ideas I have, something I don’t automatically think about in accountancy.

The benefit we've had as the second Cohort is the capability to learn from Cohort 1. We have the ability to learn from what they did well and what could be improved on, then look to weave the lessons learned into our new fresh direction for our 12 month stint on the FORUS Board.

Personally, I've really enjoyed my first three months and feel genuinely privileged to be on the Board. I'm looking forward to working with Chris Dell and other FORUS colleagues delivering on the Sustainable Corporate Social Responsibility (SCSR) project, which I've volunteered to lead on for the FORUS Board. What we're developing is very exciting and has been very enlightening for myself. There's plenty of work to do on it over the next few months and I hope we can share it more widely with colleagues in due course.

I can’t wait to see where this exciting journey takes our cohort. If you've any ideas about this, or any matters in general you think the FORUS Board should be looking at, please let me know.

Have any further ideas you want to share? Be sure to contact any of us above. We’re excited to have the Suggestions Box in full swing now, so watch this space to see our other projects being announced!