Stephen Hirst: on retiring from TSA

Stephen Hirst has returned to retirement, having made an invaluable contribution to TSA. Here, Stephen offers a few parting thoughts:

THIRD SECTOR ACCOUNTANCY- a super bunch of people, providing professional services for community organisations, and what a fantastic group of people to work with!  This makes it very difficult to leave, but sadly that is what I am doing.

It is almost 2 years since I joined the practice, which was then still quite new.  I have worked for a charity and so I know what a tremendous legal responsibility is placed on trustees and officers. A great deal of money is often spent on accountants in order to keep the right side of the law, so it is a great benefit to be able to find accredited accountants who are sympathetic with the aims of the charity and charge reasonable rates.  

When I first heard about the idea of creating an accountancy practice to provide services to not-for-profit and not-government organisations I was excited.  Accountancy training focuses on private companies, and there are all sorts of different regulations which impact charities and co-ops, so this is really a quite specialist area.

And when I heard it was to be a workers’ co-operative, I was even more keen to help.  I think this is the only accountancy practice that is a co-op anywhere in the UK. I was keen to use my own qualification and long experience in financial management to help get Third Sector Accountancy up and running, even though I had previously retired.

I have really enjoyed working with third sector clients.  I have been inspired by meeting so many people who give their time to organisations that are making a difference in communities or to achieve a social change, often for no personal reward.  

It has also been a pleasure working with the people who make up Third Sector Accountancy. Everyone shares a commitment to high standards, and a thirst to continually learn and improve.  Their willingness to help each other and share responsibility makes life easier for everyone. Also, you must admire people who are prepared to take lower wages, if necessary, to keep to their principles.

Now I have written all this, I am wondering why on earth I would stop? I suppose the real answer is that the work is so rewarding and so absorbing that it is too easy to get sucked in and find it taking more time than intended.  After several decades of work taking most of my waking time, I am determined to spend more time following other interests – in fact, retiring!

So, thank you to all those clients I have had the pleasure to work with, and I wish you all the best for the future success of your organisations. And thank you to every member of Third Sector Accountancy for your help and support, wishing you every success for the future. I am sure this is just the start of something big and important.  Keep it up!

Best wishes


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