Staying resilient and prosperous in a changing world

RSM Risk Advisory Partner Matthew Humphrey has seen many changes in business down the years. He spoke with Business Network Editor Nathan Fearn about why now, more than ever, businesses must adapt and adjust to an economy and business climate in flux.

If we’re lucky enough in our careers we get that calling – we find something that interests us that, equally, we can add value to. That calling doesn’t always happen from the outset but,

often, it’s there innately – a notion that RSM’s Matthew Humphrey can very much attest to. “I started my career at Grant Thornton, initially training

as an accountant, but it became clear to me fairly early on that Accountancy perhaps wasn’t what excited me,” says Matthew. “One element that did resonate with me was the client-

facing aspect; I enjoyed speaking with clients, understanding their needs and resolving any issues. “I took the chance to join Northamptonshire County

Council’s internal audit function and it was very different to what I had been used to. It was about engaging with clients, understanding their operating environment, the controls they put in place and ensuring they achieved their objectives; I enjoyed the whole mechanism of review and identifying ways in which things can improve. “I progressed through the ranks at the council before

leaving to join the Audit Commission as an eternal auditor. The organisation is now defunct but existed to provide external rather than internal audits of public sector bodies.” It was Matthew’s next career move that, he believes, set

the foundations for what has been a long career ‘deep- diving’ into all levels of organisations to help them become sustainable and primed for growth. “I became Head of Internal Audit at Corby Borough

Council, which was, at the time, looking to alter its direction having gone through a number of changes. “My remit centred on modernisation and a key element lay

in introducing an internal audit consortium which would bring together the internal audit functions across the districts of Northamptonshire; forming one central hub which provided a more specialist, flexible service to the councils. “The concept was very new and an innovative way

forward for Local Authorities. This piece of work influenced a lot of what I would do in consultancy – forming a consortium meant I spend a lot of time engaging with people and understanding them and their business needs.” From that career phase ultimately came an opportunity

that led Matthew on the path he treads to this day. “We launched the consortium in 2002 and ended up

working with a private sector partner, PwC, and it was during this time I started to engage with a firm called Bentley Jennison, a legacy firm of Baker Tilly, which later became RSM. “The company was building its consultancy business and

invited me to join and focus on Value for Money as well as its Local Authority business. It was a rounded grounding in business which was very beneficial.”

56 business network November 2019

RSM provides a wide range of products and services designed to assist businesses in becoming more resilient and primed for growth

And in RSM, Matthew found a company that mirrored his

own entrepreneurial spirt, one which has assisting businesses to navigate challenges, seize opportunities and build for a strong, sustainable future at its heart. “There’s a definite entrepreneurial spirit which exists at

RSM, something you might not naturally assume about professional services,” he argues. “There’s an agile approach to how we, as a company, do

business and historically it’s not a quality the sector has necessarily wanted to portray, but I think it’s really important. Businesses change so quickly and we have to adapt and change alongside them, otherwise you can get left behind.” At the heart of this adaptation lies technological

innovation, the biggest disrupter to business in recent times, and Matthew paints a picture as to how quickly the landscape has altered, and how businesses in all sectors have had to adapt accordingly. “In 1989 we had one PC in the office and you would book

a slot to use it,” recalls Matthew. “In 1999 I had a pager and we had started to use email and then in 2009 the iPhone was launched - so in 20 years

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