Glyn’s Skills Are On The Money

Glyn Morris of Higgs & Sons

DYNAMISM, pragmatism and a strong desire to succeed in business. You get the feeling that had Glyn Morris been born in another time and chosen a banking career, he may well have been behind the 1970’s launch of Williams & Glyn’s!

Glyn opted to apply his inner-belief, passion and flair to accountancy rather than banking though and in terms of inspirational success stories there can be few more glowing examples.

For instance, there can’t be many boys who, when aged 12 and living in an industrial town, are astute enough to aspire to a career in figures when those around them had constrained their aspirations – and yet Glyn was one of those very people.

In his words, ‘I thought accountancy was a good thing to do’ and now, as a partner and Finance Director (FD) in an extremely successful law firm – multi-award winning Midlands-based Higgs & Sons – he is reaping the rewards for his foresight.

His top tip for being a great FD? ’Bring yourself to work’ he says.

‘That may sound almost too simplistic, but if you don’t be yourself you don’t get the freedom to be innovative, it hinders your creativity.

‘People in finance feel like they may be constrained to a stereotype, but by being expressive you may get better, more exciting results.’

To put Glyn’s rise to partner at the firm into perspective, he is the first non-lawyer to be afforded the honour there in 139 years! Made possible by recent changes in regulation.

What’s more, he attributes his accomplishment in part to Naked Leader and has always held the premise ‘what would you do if you simply could not fail?’” as extremely valuable.

His career started to gain momentum once he had earned his stripes in the construction industry for a design and building company. It meant interest from a plethora of Big 4 accountancy firms but he opted for Birmingham-based Wragge & Co, a rapidly growing law firm.

Aged 26 he was assigned as project manager and became integral to the implementation of practice management solutions. It was a US-based solution, which included a conference in Orlando.

‘I began thinking about how to apply what I had learned in accounting practice to a law firm,’ he adds.

‘I began working on a methodology for pricing and scoping within law firms, was given an award by the College of Law Practice Management and was eventually featured on the cover of the American Bar Association magazine.’

He joined Higgs & Sons in 2006, a very progressive law firm, which has won a string of accolades – his recent focus having been championing a Higgs and Aston Business School (Birmingham) project, resulting in his attending a Harvard Executive Development programme.

Other highlights for Higgs include:

1. Coming third at the The Lawyer ‘Excellence and/or innovation in law firm financial management’ Awards 2013.

2. Glyn shortlisted for UK Finance Director of the Year – Growing Business category in March 2014.

3. Named finalists by the European Foundation for Management in the Development EFMD Excellence in Practice Awards 2014 Organisational Development category.

4. Finalist for the Innovate 2014, Best of the Best Awards in the Best Partnership category.

5. Winners of the 2014 InnovAction Award in the USA for innovation in the Legal profession.

Interestingly, Glyn credits Naked Leader as one of the inspirations behind his personal drive, saying David Taylor’s books and blogs have helped make a particular impact.

‘I read David’s book at a very influential time in my career, quite early on,’ explains Glyn. ‘Page 320 of The Naked Leader – ‘permission to be successful’ – was a really significant help to me.

‘Valuable questions have resounded in my mind through the years such as “how are you doing now compared to where you want to go and who you want to be?” And “what would you do if you simply could not fail?”

‘What I valued about the Naked Leader books is the breadth of insights, touching on the quality of personal relationships through to navigating the minefields of organisational structures.

‘In fact illustrations, analogies, stories and quotes from the Naked Leader books have found their way into many of my presentations and speeches.’

So what other advice can he give for being a successful FD?

‘You need to find people in your career who can support you and you can learn from,” he says. ‘If you’re not working for someone you’re learning from, then go and work for somebody who will be a more positive influence to you.

‘That said, I have mostly ignored what negative people said could and could not be done – why should what you can achieve be decided by another person?

‘For instance, they said if you don’t get an A Level in Maths you’ll never be an accountant, if you do AAT [Association of Accounting Technicians] you’ll never get a top job, if you’re not ICAEW [Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales] you’ll never work for a top four. But there is never only one route to achieve your goals.’

Glyn urges people to find a motivation to drive you on: ‘I feel passionately about my family and helping people do things for their good, rather than my own.

‘I have benefited along the way from other people’s support and advice and I am thrilled to be able to help others, no matter the situation.’

There is a saying in business that the difference between “try” and “triumph” is a bit of “umph” and Glyn Morris is certainly proof of that assertion.

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