The Advanced Accountants

Cardens Accountants is always ahead of the competition as Daniel White found out

The last decade has seen a number of developments. While Barak Obama took his seat in the White House and Tony Blair said his final goodbye’s to Number 10, Apple has outdone their technological competitors and has taken over as the force in computer developments.

However, in Brighton there is another such company that has seen its stock rise immensely during the last decade; Cardens Accountants and Business Advisers.

During the last nine years the Cardens brand has boldly grown to become a large player in the Brighton & Hove business scene. As well as building a reputation for dealing with business, corporate and personal accounts quickly and accurately, the firm are also active supporters of Sussex Cricket Club, Hove Rugby Club, the Brighton & Hove Business Awards and The Chamber of Commerce annual summit.

Throughout their rise Barry Carden has been at the heart of the company and he is unlikely to be walking away any time soon.

“The firm was founded nine years ago when I demerged what was then the Hove office of a multi-office firm of accountants in East Sussex,” Managing Partner Barry Carden explains. “At the time the whole team was just twelve strong, with six of that team still at the firm today.”

Barry quickly promoted his senior manager Victoria Mason to partner and the growth of the firm took off.

He says: “By 2011 the firm had grown by 50% to 18 people when Keith Hall joined the firm as a partner from another Brighton-based firm. This led to a significant recruitment drive just as the recession was hitting and the headcount has now reached 32, with three more team members due to join shortly. This growth has led to the firm becoming one of the largest in the city and an imminent move to larger offices is due before the end of the year.”

Barry describes how the firm delivers traditional accountancy services but while utilising leading edge technology as well as delivering their promise of high levels of customer service.

“I have worked in accountancy practices for 30 years this year and one thing that has not really changed is that clients expect a fast turnaround on their queries and accounts and they really do not like unexpected bills. We try, therefore, to deliver on both these key aims and like many other firms we have grown through referral, which we take as proof that clients and contacts are happy with our way of doing business,” he reflects.

“Additionally, we try very hard to break down what are sometimes complex business or tax problems into much more simplistic terminology to help clients understand what is going on with their business and taxation affairs. It also helps to always be looking for new clients. The three partners and many of our managers attend a significant number of the networking events Brighton has to offer; again the speed of turnaround for new business proposals has also been a factor in their growth.”

With more experience than most in the accountancy industry Barry has seen the right and wrong ways to attract business and is determined not to follow in the latter’s footsteps.

“Most accountants always claim to be busy and in some cases this can lead to significant delays in following up on business leads or quotations. We are convinced this is a big turn off for potential clients; if you cannot demonstrate you are keen for their business by following up then you cannot really be surprised when you are not appointed,” he explains.

“As business methods change so does the way we deliver our services; in the past we may have sent clients budget updates and tax tables whereas now this is dealt with by way of email and our Cardens app. Clients have been able to download copies of their accounts and tax returns through a secure portal for several years now so all their documents are accessible from one place but we will shortly be enhancing this with a move to electronic signatures for approval of documents and further improvements to make it more user friendly.”

Barry now has time to take a step back and see how far the company has come and while he is not about to rest on his laurels he is determined to ensure Cardens doesn’t just help its clients.

“All the partners are also very much aware that we are fortunate that in business things have worked out for us and as a result we like to give back to the community. This is reflected in the events we support and also our commitment to donate the equivalent of 1% of our turnover to charities and worthy causes through a combination of donations, pro-bono work and fundraising,” he clarifies.

“On the 6th November we will be holding our third annual quiz night (replacing a previous five-a-side football tournament that ran for six years), we cover the cost so all the funds raised go to our nominated charities and in typical Cardens style it is not your typical quiz. We feature a live music round, video interaction and a round based on family fortunes which basically means it’s highly unlikely anyone knows the correct answer. As a result the quiz is actually fun, not too intellectual and everyone seems to have a great night out!

“We also hold annual birthday parties for the team, clients and contacts and again we seek to get away from stuffy events. We have previously done wine tasting to a ‘Runaround’ quiz theme and this year held a Brazilian-themed table football tournament to tie into the World Cup.”

Much like Apple, Barry is never happy for Cardens to be standing still in the business world and with the ever-changing technological landscape you can ensure you’re in safe hands with Cardens.

He says: “Overall our approach is to treat people the way we would like to be treated, grow for the long term rather than the short and try to make office life enjoyable for everyone we come into contact with. Like most businesses, technology and changing laws constantly alter the services that our clients need and the way we deliver them but we pride ourselves in keeping on top of such issues and delivering solutions with a smile.”

For more in formation visit the Cardens website at or call 01273 739592 to speak to a member of the team.