Jonathan Davis

Partner, Saffery Champness

Jon is the Head of Office for Saffery Champness in Harrogate and is one of the region’s most inspirational partners.

May 27, 2021
May 27, 2021
CFO Interviews

He has a genuine passion for professional practice and here he talks about why it is a great career path for anyone who enjoys variety and building close working, client relationships.  Elise Walsh has known Jon Davis for many years, having placed him in his first role after qualifying. Jon was very supportive towards Pratap Partnership when we were setting up the business and for that, we will always be grateful. It was great to catch up with Jon and get some insight into his career as well as his thoughts on the Yorkshire market.

What attracted you to a career in Accountancy and the decision to continue a career within professional practice over industry?

Approaching the end of University I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do, I just knew I wanted to be in business and I wanted to broaden my horizons as much as possible. A career in accountancy and in particular in practice seemed like a smart move.  I don’t think anyone at 21 knows 100% what they want to be when they grow up, but what I did know was that a  career in practice would give me a huge breadth of experience in working with many clients, large and small, and with a vast array of sectors and with people from whom I could learn, to enable me to understand business more widely and to define where I wanted to go.  Twenty two years later, I’m still in practice and this remains down to the fact that no one day is the same; I work with a huge variety of organisations across multiple sectors and working with my clients, their Boards and shareholders to create success continues to be a great experience. Every day I get to work with people in business - banks, lawyers and many other professionals as well as our team here at Safferys. No one day is the same; I’ve learnt so much from each and every day, and continue to do so.

What have been your observations of the market over the past 12 months?

Remarkably, I think the Yorkshire market has been incredibly resilient over this extraordinary last 12 months.  Undoubtedly, the Government’s support packages over this period have helped businesses survive, but I’ve also seen great strength in the organisations we work with locally.  Many have had to re-shape and think hard about their future direction and as a result, have every chance of navigating through the next few years and beyond very successfully.  For our business, the market has been good and our opportunities continue to be strong with good prospects going forward.  Attracting and retaining talent continues to be the key challenge across our sector, and in coming out of the pandemic, I truly believe accountancy practices need to develop their EVP to ensure we remain as attractive as ever for talent of the future - so evolving our workplaces will be key.

What has been the biggest challenge and success in your career so far?

I would say my biggest success is following the path to my role today, as Head of Office in Harrogate and being a Partner at Safferys, a role that I love and one which gives me enormous pleasure after 22 years in the profession. It  enables me to both work in the sector I grew up in and also to play a part in running and shaping our business, alongside all my colleagues. The biggest challenge has undoubtedly been the last year, in coping and dealing with the impact of the pandemic.  Not only has this driven great uncertainty, but has also impacted on every single member of the team, the people around them and our clients.  More than ever it has made us realise that the profession is not just about numbers! Every day has brought new challenges and not just from a business perspective. I think there are many challenges yet to come as we move towards life post pandemic and adapting to the new workplace will be critical.  Certainly the experience of this last year has emphasised more than ever how critical people are to our profession and the great strength they bring to the success of our team.

If you could invite three people to a dinner party who would they be and why?

Boris Johnson, nothing to do with a political persuasion, just simply to chew over what the last year has felt like as a leader of our country! Jimmy Carr, to lighten the mood, as I truly believe that we must always see the funny side of life, and Sir Alex Ferguson….because he is my hero, and likes a drop of Red.

If you could give your 21 year old self a piece of advice what would it be?

From a career perspective, it would be to make the most of the opportunities that present themselves.  I was extremely lucky to get into accountancy with KPMG in 1999 and start my career in a firm that offered so much to a young professional.  In looking back, I’ve always been a little self-critical that I didn’t explore other areas in practice more widely in my 20’s such as tax, corporate finance, international aspects etc.  The opportunities were there, but I didn’t always grasp them and when I look back now the experiences I could have bolted on along the way, certainly would have had real positive impact on me as a professional, as well as giving me some amazing further life experiences.  One thing for sure is that life is for living and I would encourage anyone starting off, to take every opportunity that comes their way, but most of all to enjoy what you are doing, which I certainly have done.  I would also say suck up as much as you can from everyone around you, there are so many great people with great experiences in our industry and taking the best of everyone around you to develop yourself in your own way, would be a huge tip from me.

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