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Q&A with Jonny Hague

Jonny, congratulations on being appointed at the age of 35 the youngest director in the history of Harwood Hutton. How did it all begin for you with us?

I started at Harwood Hutton fresh out of school after completing my A Levels in August 2005. I had decided not to take up the offered spaces at University for my initially selected degree of Psychology. I spotted Harwood Hutton’s advert in the paper and thought a career in accountancy would play to my strengths. So I applied and was delighted to be taken on as a trainee. I was so keen that I started before I had received my A Level results and picked them up on my lunch break!

In the intervening 17 years I have held eight different job titles at Harwood Hutton, including Head of our Outsourced Accounting Team and Head of our Audit and Accounts Team. Most recently, I’ve been focussed on delivering high quality client care in our core services of business advice, accountancy and tax advice.

Who has been your biggest influence at HH and what key lessons did you learn from them?
I have learned a lot from many mentors at Harwood Hutton but the biggest influence has been, without question, our late Managing Director John Brace. John was sometimes a hard taskmaster as he rightly demanded only the very best out of those he worked with, but he would always take the time and care to provide his own insight and experience to anyone who needed it.

John’s unrelenting focus on achieving the highest possible standards of client service drove the firm forward for decades and left an indelible impression on me. My relationship with John was based on trust and clear communication, which I think are key to any business relationship functioning properly.

All the signs are that 2023 looks like it will be tough for many businesses. What is your overarching message to clients?
The UK economy has been hit hard by three consecutive ‘once in a lifetime’ events: Brexit, Covid and the war in Ukraine. The Furlough scheme and Self Employed Income Support Grants were particularly costly to the Exchequer, and given the upcoming Corporation and Income Tax rate increases, it is clear the Government has limited resources to assist businesses combat rising costs. We did not see many businesses fall as a result of Covid because of the various Government grants and loan schemes made available, but now there appears little more assistance to come, many businesses will be facing a critical period.

I see four key areas for businesses to focus on:

  • Getting sales pricing right – ensuring the business is chasing profits, not turnover;
  • Reviewing supplier agreements and contracts – ensuring these still deliver value;
  • Keeping employees motivated through the cost of living crisis – considering alternative methods of staff motivation, particularly where not all talent might be afforded inflationary pay rises; and
  • Reviewing credit control procedures – considering whether credit terms ought to be restricted and debt chasing be enhanced, given the increased risks to late payments and bad debts from customers.

What’s the single most important action a business leader can take to keep their business on track in 2023?
I would recommend all business owners prepare for a financially difficult period by reviewing their business model in detail to ensure they have an action plan to mitigate the pressures. Business owners should look to do this as soon as possible so they can be ahead of the curve.

Any weaknesses in the business must be identified, while any commercial opportunities must now be targeted and harnessed. Maintaining key relationships with stakeholders, such as key customers, suppliers and talented employees, might be the difference between making profits or losses, or more significantly, surviving or not.

Outside of work, what’s your main personal ambition for 2023?
Certainly to be more physically active. I gave up managing a football team in 2022 to concentrate on playing, as I feel I only have a few more years left in my legs! Inevitably, the Christmas period has not been kind to my waistline, so, like many, this is a personal priority of mine at the start of 2023.  I’m also hoping 2023 might see my team Sheffield United get promoted back to where they belong – in the Premiership!

View Jonny’s profile here. 


Awards & Affiliations

Client Testimonials
  • I always get quick, clear and definitive responses from the Harwood Hutton tax team – commercial answers to commercial issues.

    Robin Berry – Morgan Management
  • Right from the outset Harwood Hutton gave us direction and great advice – and that advice has evolved over the years as we’ve grown. We’re both medium-sized companies providing a bespoke service – one furniture, one accountancy – and the relationship works.

    Andy McCarron, McCarron and Co
  • I’m deeply impressed with Harwood Hutton’s extensive knowledge of tax arrangements for residential and commercial property landlords.

    Qadeer Ahmed, MD, ABA Finance
  • They really took their time to understand what was important to us and our business and the expertise we required. Whoever we speak to at HH, we get the same fantastic response and technical input. It’s a real partnership.

    Edward Finch, group MD, MRIB insurance brokers
  • I have worked with the directors at Harwood Hutton on a number of mutual client matters over many years. The reassurance of their clear, commercial and focussed advice is one of the main reasons I regard this as one of my most valuable professional relationships.

    Frank Wessely, Partner, Quantuma LLP
  • Harwood Hutton never seem to rest on their laurels. They are always seeking out new avenues and ways to improve their offering. A very forward-thinking company with staff who are always well briefed and who approach each task with drive.

    Karl Austen, MD, Surefoot Communications
  • We have engaged Harwood Hutton in several areas of structuring, including VAT issues, decoupling an SPV from a group structure and HMRC clearance for a transaction. The team have exceeded all expectations by being proactive, measured and very thorough.

    Adam Fawsitt, Director, FHT Limited
  • We moved to Harwood Hutton as they delivered a succinct and professional proposal. If anything, we have been more impressed post-move. They are a fantastic company to work with. They do truly differentiate. They have the skills and capabilities of a mega firm but with a personal service.

    Edward Finch, group MD, MRIB insurance brokers
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