Alasdair McGill - Managing Director

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Talk us through your career journey so far?

I’ll try and keep this brief. I trained & qualified with EY in the late 80s & early 90s. Left there to join a client as their Financial Controller; 4 years later I was MD of the Group. Exited there 2001, setup & grew a successful consultancy business in Aberdeen. Was headhunted by a client – a specialist accounting business. Spent 5 years transforming that business, then left to become Head of Entrepreneurship at the University of Dundee. In March 2017, my son (who’s a designer, and my co-founder), convinced me that we should try to disrupt the world of accounting, and so we setup Ashton McGill, which we launched in September 2017.

We now work with almost 200 clients – we specialise in working with growth-focused businesses - and employ a team of 15 people.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love the variety of clients that we work with, and the roles I have with some of them. For instance, I’m the CFO of Dundee Football Club, and the FD of award-winning Dundee brewers 71 Brewing. I love that we’re challenging EVERY norm in the world of accounting. Every day is different.

Did you always want to be an accountant? If not, what did you want to be?

I never wanted to be an accountant, but I was good at numbers, and interested in business, so that the route I chose to follow. For many years, I had a chip on my shoulder about being an accountant, due to the stereotype that people associate with the word.

However, as I’ve got older, I’ve leaned into it and am proud to say that I’m an accountant now; just a different type from the one that most people expect. That’s where the opportunity to disrupt lies!

Do you see the job of an accountant changing over the next decade, and if so, what do you see?

It has to change, 100%. The skills I’ve listed above need to become your core skills as an accountant.

You’re an advisor, a coach, mentor and guide to the businesses you serve.

Embrace it.

Has the COVID pandemic changed the way you view work?

The work we do as accountants has never been more important. During the pandemic, our clients relied upon us to help them navigate through the storm. As we come out of the pandemic, and embrace a new hybrid working model, all sorts of opportunities open up.

I’m almost 54, but I’ve never been as excited about the future of our business, as I am now.

What advice would you give to an accountant who might be considering changing jobs?

Build a great online profile. How are you going to stand out? As an employer, I’m looking for someone who’s a ‘hell yeah!’.

Think about how you can upskill in those areas that I’ve mentioned above. It’s really important.

If you could, what advice would you give your 18 year old self?

Keep going. You’re following the right path.

What do you still want to achieve?

There’s still so much to do, we’ve only just scratched the surface! I’m committed to changing the perception of, and the work done by, accountants. The accountant of the future needs to be a good communicator, have empathy for the business owner, excel at making the complex simple, be a great listener, and most important of all be curious. NONE of those skills are currently part of the education and training you’ll receive at university, or in a traditional firm.

We’re working on something very exciting, with two other award-winning accountancy businesses, that we hope will shake up the industry!

Being an accountant can be a demanding job with often long hours. How do you like to relax and what do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I’ve never let it consume me, so I’m pretty good at creating boundaries. I love to exercise – I start every day with some form of training, then have breakfast, journal and read before I open my emails. That’s important, and means I start the day intentionally.

I love to run, cycle, play golf with my son, and love nothing more than spending time with my wife and our (now grown up) children (and their dogs!).

Lastly, tell us something interesting that most people don’t know about you?

Although I’m a Director at Dundee Football Club, I’m actually a St Johnstone fan, and used to be a season ticket holder. Dundee is fun, but it’s purely business 😉