1st October, 2020, Melanie Harriss
It has been 100 years since records show that Joseph Stephenson and Robert Stanley Smart were practicing accountants on King Street in King’ Lynn – the inception of the firm we now know as Stephenson Smart.
Now employing 100 people across six offices in King’s Lynn, Great Yarmouth, Fakenham, Wisbech, March and Downham Market. The accountancy practice has expanded to offer expert advice in payroll, inheritance tax and probate as well as general tax advice.
Clive Dodds, Partner and Chair of Directors is the longest serving member of Stephenson Smart, having been with the firm for 46 years.
His work has taken him to many countries, including South Korea, Australia and The Bahamas, when he assisted with the sale of a Lincolnshire stately home purchased by a company there.
He said: “My first job was for C R Lake, an ice cream van business, whose accounts I had to hand stitch together with a needle and thread. Everything had to be done by longhand and it took forever.”
“We had two sheets of double-sided paper that we stuck together. The clients name was on the front, the inside would have the profit and loss and the back would be the balance sheet.”
“We didn’t have our first computer until the mid-1980s, it was huge, and I remember people being very sceptical about it, although they soon got used to the changes.”
The company prides itself on its breadth of clients across all sectors, many of which have remained with Stephenson Smart across several decades.
These include Stratfords, a workwear, uniform and promotional clothing company in King’s Lynn, which celebrated its own centenary milestone in 2018, and Lynn Shellfish, who have been a client for more than 50 years.
John Williamson, owner of J & J Shellfish and previously of Lynn Shellfish, said Stephenson Smart had become part of his working family.
“I have always viewed Stephenson Smart as an extension of my team because they have been a constant source of support and encouragement since 1967. Clive and Doug Shinn (retired partner), supported me through all expansion processes, exporting to South Korea and the sale of my original company.”
Stephenson Smart has now moved with gusto to the digital tax age and offers a handful of services that many other accountancy firms cannot, including a probate speciality and two ATOL reporting accountants.
Mr Dodds said: “Right from the beginning our partners have displayed longevity, they have stayed for years and I think a lot of that comes from becoming so invested in the local community and getting to know people.”
“My father said to me that if you make a good living out of a place you have to put something back into it and I think that’s what we all try to do through charity work, sporting events and sponsorship. It’s a good philosophy to have.”
Dan Jastrzebski, who will become the firm’s newest partner in April, added: “I think in times like these it is quite rare to be able to say you work for a company that has been operating for 100 years, so it makes me very proud.”
“We all work for the same goal – to give helpful and professional support to each and every client. These are the standards that we have upheld for the past 100 years that we look forward to maintaining over the next 100.”