Anthony Bell is CEO at Bell Partners. Anthony has taken a very different view of building a professional services business – focusing on building a high productivity single partner firm. And he’s clearly doing something right, with the business winning a bunch of awards including BRW’s most productive accounting firm every year since 2003.
In this interview we talk about:
- Leading for high productivity
- Why “good enough is old enough” at Bell Partners
- How Bell Partners is structured to have “a whole bunch of little CEOs running around”
- Why induction has to be indoctrination
- The importance of transparency in the performance review process
- How Anthony got over the fear of employee retention
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts or comments on this interview.
Steve Pell: I’m here with Anthony Bell who is CEO of Bell Partners. Can you give us the elevator pitch on what you do here at Bell Partners?
Anthony Bell: We’re basically a multi-discipline firm. We don’t just do people’s taxes or accounting. We try and look forward and do their financial planning, take care of their insurance, legal work, anything else that’s involved with money. We take care of all that as a one-stop shop.
Steve: Fantastic, and how big is the firm now?
Anthony: There’s just over a hundred staff working in the group. We’re a corporate modelled accounting firm, so we have offices in Queensland, Norwest, Newcastle and our head office here at King Street Wharf.
Steve: It’s a reasonably fast growing business?
Anthony: We incorporated in October 1997 and we’ve had great growth since then. In the last two to three years our focus has been on sustain and maintain, rather than just pure growth. So we’ve tried to really focus on having an A-grade client base and making sure that we’re meeting their needs first… rather than continually chasing growth.
Steve: Has the way that you’ve led the organisation changed as you’ve gone from the growth phase to sustain-and-maintain phase?
Anthony: Absolutely. The one thing that we needed when we were a really small firm was productivity. We had no funding… it was purely just me. So we learned some lessons back then that we still employ today. Those were around productivity and efficiency. Even though the organisation is a lot bigger now we still employ those same tactics.