International finance specialist homes in on Surbiton

After many years enjoying a career that took him around the world, Bruce Burrowes decided the time had come for him to finally put down his roots – as a TaxAssist franchise owner in Surbiton.

It took a really special franchise opportunity to make Bruce Burrowes finally swap a career that had spanned major investment portfolios and business development programmes in Africa, Russia, Sweden and the UK, for one as his own boss. That franchise was TaxAssist Accountants.

When he returned to the UK in 2002, Bruce was Finance Director for a major commercial contracting group and latterly, a subsidiary of credit card payment specialist PayPoint plc, where he oversaw acquisitions, restructuring and risk management across the business.

“Working in the City was also great experience, mainly in terms of dealing with business restructuring and acquisitions, but turning 40 and with two young children I started to find the three-hour commute less than appealing,” recalls Bruce. “I started thinking in earnest about running my own show four years ago – just as the recession was starting to bite. Troubleshooting and interim management roles were thin on the ground, when I read about TaxAssist Accountants and received some legal advice about the structure of the network and opportunities for franchise owners. It ticked every box.”

Bruce became the proud owner of TaxAssist Accountants Kingston in 2008 and now employs a team of six, including one qualified and three part-qualified accountants. He plans to consolidate this success by opening TaxAssist Accountants Wimbledon within the next few months and has further territories in his sights.

“As a small business owner myself, who only serves small businesses, I’m acutely aware of the challenges they face,” says Bruce. ”The Kingston and Wimbledon small business community incorporates some thriving leisure and event management companies, publishing houses, IT businesses and consultancies. The larger accountancy firms often neglect the small business and sole trader sector, which is good news for us, because it is the only sector we serve. Client relationships and community involvement are paramount. You can buy almost anything on the internet these days, but when it comes to advice and support in running your business, there really is no substitute for personal relationships.”

Bruce is enjoying working to his own agenda and reaping the fruits of success as a TaxAssist franchise owner but has no regrets about his earlier career, from which skills he acquired have been incorporated in the running of his Kingston business.

“Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have swapped the international experiences at all – except for the six months battling illness in a Kenyan hospital,” says Bruce. “It definitely shaped my appetite for independence. It also gave me huge respect for the challenges facing start-up businesses and the skills and determination of the entrepreneurs behind them – particularly when dealing with bankers.”

Written by Fraser McKay