Q&A with new member Grant Thornton

Author
Victoria Matthews
Initiative Manager | Business West
16th March 2022

Welcome to our newest Bristol & West of England Initiative member – Grant Thornton

We are delighted to welcome Grant Thornton as our newest members of the Bristol & West of England Initiative here at Business West.  Jonathan Riley, Partner and Practice Leader for Bristol and the South West, tells us about his role, why Grant Thornton have joined the Initiative and his favourite place in Bristol. 


Tell us about your role at Grant Thornton – what does a typical day look like?

The main part of the day is spent with people – colleagues at Grant Thornton; helping them to grow and develop. Or working with our clients and other stakeholders in our communities. That’s where I get the biggest amount of energy.

As Practice Leader for the South West and Wales at Grant Thornton UK LLP, my focus is on pushing Grant Thornton’s presence in the region and marketplace even harder, so we can achieve the sustainable growth we seek and pursue the ambitious goals we have as a firm.

As a tax Partner (my specialism) I work with businesses of all sizes to manage risk and maximise opportunity. Whatever a business, or its owners do, there is always the need to consider tax. Largely because the tax regime here and abroad is so complex!

Every business is different, our approach is to listen first; to understand key risk areas and value drivers. We then tailor our advice and support to match. 

What does Grant Thornton do? Why do you like working for them? 

We provide business advice to owners and their ventures. We are very approachable, insightful, and additive. I’d describe Grant Thornton has having a soul. We look at building long term sustainable relationships. And we are of a size where the client is always visible – you don’t get swallowed by a huge corporate machine. Across the UK we have 4,500 people who operate from 27 offices, led by 190 partners all of whom are focused on delivering outstanding client service. 

In the South West and Wales offices we have 300 people with a rich diversity, led by an experienced team of 10 Partners and 16 Directors.  

Why have you joined the Bristol Initiative? 

I, and all of our people in the South West, either live in, travel through, shop and socialise in Bristol. I passionately believe that given what we draw from the local community we must give back. The challenges faced by some in our midst must be embraced and addressed. I do not want my Firm to be seen as the tenant of a steel and glass building, but as a member of the local community.

The Bristol Initiative is an extremely credible organisation, and our values align. I hope that we can bring not only our support but a further business voice that can ensure Bristol and its wider ‘neighbourhood’ achieves its ambitions. Grant Thornton wants to strengthen the voice of businesses in order to make our region the best place to live and work.

What are the key agendas that you’re looking forward to getting involved with? 

Education, and access to quality education is an essential. My Firm cannot educate in a school environment but we can work with others to showcase what a career in the professions can be like. 

The economic recovery from the pandemic is going to need help from all stakeholders. The government is keen to ‘level up’. The South West has seen impressive economic growth but we must work to ensure infrastructure is such that growth can return to pre pandemic levels.

We need to focus on the environment. ESG is a growing topic but we need to help keep people and businesses ‘honest’ – no greenwashing. As a business we must lead by example.

We are also keen to ensure sound political structures to drive growth and inclusion. We will shortly see a vote on whether we keep a Mayoral system of leadership of a return to committee management of local government. We cannot afford to see a lack of clarity in terms of leadership and the Mayoral model is our preference in order to sustain that level of leadership.

Finally, we all love Bristol – where is your favourite place to visit in Bristol?

When I was 19 (a long time ago!) a school friend who had come to Bristol Uni had a party at his girlfriend’s flat that I attended. It was on the fringes of Clifton and I remember waking pretty early on the Sunday morning (I’m a very light sleeper) and walking up to the viewing area over the suspension bridge looking down towards what is now Ashton Gate (don’t mention football!). Clifton is still impressive, the architecture, the bridge and the people. It is a lucky place though. And the wealth that many parts of Clifton embody reinforces the fact that we are all neighbours and we need to watch out for one another.

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