Lyndsey Shaw

Director Brown Butler

Lyndsey is a Director at Brown Butler Chartered Accountants and a really close friend of our partners. 

Jul 16, 2021
Women in Finance

Introduction

Lyndsey is a Director at Brown Butler Chartered Accountants and a really close friend of our partners. 

Lyndsey already has a great story to tell from her 15-year career to date – She joined a boutique corporate finance firm after graduating and saw the firm merge with Murray Harcourt October in 2018. She is now a Director at Brown Butler, one of the largest independent firms in Leeds. Brown Butlers client base is mainly owner managed businesses ranging from Small SMEs to large, privately owned multi-national companies. Lyndsey’s role is to provide strategic advice to these clients on any M&A activity they wish to undertake.

Not many accountants start their career in corporate finance – How did that happen and what was the plan?

Well I have always been a bit of a geek when it comes to numbers, I just love how logical they are, so I knew from the age of about 12 that I wanted to be an accountant. This made choosing my degree course pretty easy. As part of the course I chose, I was able to do a year’s work experience, I applied for a role that Sterling were advertising and was successful. From the very beginning loved the work I was doing so when the partners offered me a job after graduation, I snapped their hands off. Sterling put me through my professional exams and supported me from there in developing my knowledge of corporate finance and professional network. It was an unusual start to being an accountant but I am incredibly lucky that I have always loved what I do!

We see many candidates move away from practice to industry, you have stayed in the profession and enjoyed a lot of success. What has made it work so well for you?

I think the varied nature of the work and people I meet, work to my strengths. I regularly get to see lots of different businesses and management teams which is just really interesting. I am quite out going but easily get distracted if I am bored and so the project-based nature of corporate finance means that the work I am doing from day to day is always changing. I also believe that if you enjoy what you do you will make a success of it.

What are going to be the key changes for the accounting profession over the next 5years?

I think that technology is already playing a big role in accounting but this is going to get bigger. More and more firms are going to cloud accounting, changing the role of the accountant. We have to be more date driven than process driven. Making the services that accounting practices offer more value-added services than the old-fashioned process services such as audit and accounts prep. This is going to be done for us with the use of cloud accounting and the role AI technology is going to play. It is important that firms get on bored with this.

 

Another big change in the industry will be the arrival of much more flexible working, something the pandemic has advanced 5-10years. More flexible working is certainly something that needed to happen for many reasons. However accounting practices need to balance this with the peer-to-peer learning that has always taken place within the profession. Passing your exams is not the only way accountants become qualified, a big part of what makes an accountant a successful FD is their knowledge and experience. For a trainee or a NQ not being in the office listening to more senior colleagues discussions or attending internal and external meetings will have a detrimental effect on their learning. This needs to be monitored carefully.

Women have accounted for less that 20% of the FD appointments we have seen in Yorkshire over the past year. Why do you think this is? (Pending your answer, talk us through what you think needs to be done to improve representation)

I think this is probably down to a number of reasons. Historically (and I guess still to this day) woman tend to be the parent that takes on the majority of the childcare within a household. This inevitably means that they need a much greater level of flexibility in their working role. Up until the recent pandemic many employers didn’t have the ability (or inclination) to offer this flexibility which created a celling for woman to how far they could get in their career. Now this is clearly not applicable to all woman but in my experience does affect a majority of those with family commitments. This results in a shortage of woman available for these higher-level roles.

 

I think improving this needs to be more than just a tick box exercise. I for one would like to know I have been successful in securing a role because I am the perfect candidate and not because I fill a diversity quota. This is not something that legislation can change. We need to change attitudes towards woman not just working but having a career of their own and that childcare is the sole responsibility of the mother. I appreciate that this has changed over the last 20 years. However, the statistic of 20% female FD appointments in the last 12 months, shows us there is still a long way to go. There is no quick fix here this is a huge cultural shift and will take time.

Who have been the most important influencers in your career and what do you love most about it ?

I feel so lucky to have a job that I love, getting up on a Monday morning to come to work has never been a chore for me (well with the exception of this Monday after the Euro final!!) and I think a lot of that is down to the people I have worked with, both colleagues and clients.

 

At Sterling I was extremely lucky to work with 4 partners at the beginning of my career that were incredible at their jobs (all for very different reasons) and they gave me a great base knowledge and understanding of corporate finance. For which I will be eternally grateful to them for, having a good solid start to your career really does set you up for a successful future.

 

As clichéd as it may sound my parents have also been a positive influence on me. They have both always had a great work ethic which they instilled in me. I was that kid who always had 100% attendance at school as we were only allowed a day off if we were in hospital!! I think a good work ethic is absolutely necessary to have any form of success in life as nothing just falls in your lap.

You have recently had your second baby during lockdown , congratulations . How has that impacted and enhanced work/life balance ?

It was a strange thing to have a baby in the middle of a pandemic. And then to be in full lockdown, having to home school my 8-year-old with a new-born, whilst my husband was working full time, was a little bit of a challenge to say the least! So, coming back to work with 2 kids at home seems like a breeze compared to that!! I am also very lucky that my husband has taken 3 months of my maternity leave off so he is now home with the kids. This, alongside the more flexible working we are now able to do, means that my work life balance has actually improved. I live in Huddersfield so commuting to Leeds everyday took up a lot of my time. Working from home 2-3days a week gives me back a lot of that which I then split between doing more work and spending more time with the family. Everyone is a winner.

Tell us about Lyndsey outside of work

Outside of work I am a mum of two, wife, daughter and I like to think good friend!! As I am sure is the same for most working parents, I have a busy home life between sporting activities for my son, keeping by 7-month-old daughter happy and seeing family and friends. I love nothing more than having all our family round for a Sunday roast or going to cricket practice on a Friday tea time to watch my son (and have a little tipple with our friends in the bar!!). Just the simple things in life, but they make me the happiest! I think a good balance between work and home is key to a happy life and I am lucky enough to have that!

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