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Helen Clements

Helen Clements on Collaborative Empowerment

By Helen Clements

Founder & Director, Troy Accounting Ltd.

Whilst working in other companies as a Finance Director, Helen could only influence and define those companies alone. She decided that she wanted to take her experience and make a difference in many businesses and so Troy Accounting was formed.

Alongside her business partner Boo Donovan, the pair are passionate about empowering other business owners through knowledge, with a philosophy of collaborative working and being true to themselves.

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You’re good friends with your business partner Boo; how does your partnership work in practice?

We've known each other since we were 11 as we went to the same school and then when I qualified as a Chartered Accountant my first role after leaving Smith & Williamson was at BNP Paribas where Boo was my boss.

A couple of years into the existence of Troy Accounting Boo got in touch to chat about how I had started the business as she was considering the possibility of doing the same. In the end she joined Troy Accounting and is now a fellow Director of the business.

As business partners, our personalities and strengths complement each other hugely and we’re very in sync with our business decisions. I’m very entrepreneurial and always thinking of the next change and Boo is the person that challenges me to make sure we’re always heading in the right direction in line with our ethos.

Where did the name Troy Accounting come from?

From Greek mythology, Helen of Troy. I was in an unusual position as most accountancy firms are partnerships but as there was just me, I became a Limited company. I wanted a name that reflected strength but had a natural link back to me.

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What has been your experience as a woman in business, and do you have any advice for others?

I would say, be yourself. Don’t get put in a box. Don’t feel you have to conform to the way things are, because being different opens a lot of eyes.

That’s really what we do at Troy. We don’t do anything like any other firm we know of, from our pricing to the way we work with our customers. It all comes down to the fact that we want to be ourselves and our customers to be themselves as that way you’re able to really build trust and true business relations.

What do you love most about what you do?

Making someone realise that their dream is possible. Whatever that dream maybe – more family time, growing their business, retiring early, spending less time doing the work and more time planning the future.

As much as we’re Chartered Accountants, that is just our qualification. Our aim is for our customers to live the life they really want to live. We spend a lot of time opening their eyes, through conversations with them and just finding out about them.

We also play a bit of devil’s advocate to ask – why can’t you, what’s stopping you? It’s an approach that you don’t normally get with an accountant and it’s common for people to be surprised by it as they can see really quickly how this type of relationship can help them, and benefit their business.

"Don't feel you have to conform to the way things are because being different opens a lot of eyes."

Helen Clements - Troy Accounting Ltd.

Thought leadership and knowledge sharing is an important part of what you do. Can you tell us a bit about that?

It runs through the whole business. We want to make sure our customers and staff have the right knowledge so they can make the best decisions.

We want to impart our knowledge and experience to our customers so that they can be empowered with that knowledge. That could be as simple as knowing how to read your profit and loss account, all the way through to larger questions about where they’re trying to get to in the future.

It’s not just about the numbers, it’s their whole personal and business world we understand. We train and coach business owners and are their support unit, sounding board and confidant. We don’t believe in a blanket approach; every relationship is unique.

Do you extend your knowledge through working with external partners?

We don’t want to be a large firm and have built the business with a support network of specialisms around us. We have a VAT specialist team that we work with who can offer niche advice for an individual business.

Ernst & Young work with our customers on Research & Development claims. The IFA we work with advises on many topics from pensions to corporate bonds and more depending on each customer’s needs. If there are HR concerns or issues, we have a couple of business we refer our customers on to.

Not only does it work well for our business and our customers but it is also supporting other businesses too.

"As much as we’re Chartered Accountants, we’re also trying to help our customers live the life they really want to live."

Helen Clements - Troy Accounting Ltd.

Can you tell us something about yourself that is completely unrelated to your business?

I dance salsa. I’m part of a performance team with Alchemy Dance Academy in Basingstoke and have been dancing for over 10 years. I also teach on behalf of my teachers at the academy.

All of your team enjoy sharing book reviews – have you ever read anything that’s changed your life?

The best book I’ve read is Start With Why by Simon Sinek. It’s about everyone having a reason as to why you do what you do. He did a really good TED Talk called the Golden Circle. You have what you do, how you do it, and why you do it. The why is the core of what makes you tick, your values, and your beliefs. It’s a good read for anyone, not just business owners; you’ll discover quite a lot about yourself.