Feb 202017
 

With thanks to Karen Stewart.

Grampian Business Finder on Facebook has exceeded 4000 Members in its first year of operation. The unique group was setup in February 2016 by Karen Stewart of This Little Piggy Marketing, to address the downturn in the oil price by encouraging business to be done locally whenever possible.

Grampian Business Finder supports consumers to find solutions to their problems in real time, assists businesses to receive recommendations to secure new customers, and allows Members a forum to find answers to questions and highlight shared issues.

Karen Stewart(pictured) is delighted with the progress of Grampian Business Finder, saying:

“it doesn’t feel like a whole year ago that I published Grampian Business Finder wondering if it would be useful to anyone; since then many Members have given me feedback on the value of the group both to them personally and to their businesses which is fantastic to know.”

She continued:

“feedback also demonstrates the very supportive nature of the Grampian people and an appetite for face to face meetings which will be launched this week, I’m keen that Grampian Business Finder continues to develop and find new ways to support the local economy in current challenging times and beyond.”

Local Photographer Michal Wachucik said:

“(Grampian Business Finder) has saved me £4000! A replacement boiler was going to cost me £4500. BUT when I posted (on Grampian Business Finder) I found a much better solution.”

Grampian Business Finder is at www.facebook.com/groups/GrampianBusinessFinder and Karen is keen to assist Members to make the most of the group and welcomes their ongoing feedback.

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Feb 172017
 

With thanks to Yvette Rayner, PR Account Manager, Frasermedia.

A football-mad Aberdeen family firm is helping local youngster to gear up for local football festivals. Greenwell Equipment (Greenwell), which is based in East Tullos, has provided high quality track-suit tops and bottoms to 27 boys at Newmachar United Football Club. 

The boys, aged 6-8 years, attend football festivals across the North-east and train at the Newmachar Axis Centre.

Mark Turnbull, managing director of Greenwell, is a big supporter of the club, and his son Cal, age 6, has been playing with Newmachar United FC for over two years.

Greenwell Equipment supplies modular buildings, containers, warehouse shelving and pallet racking and office furniture across the world, and the family run firm employs 15 people.

Managing director Mark is a keen football fan, and played himself as a boy and young man. He has recently started assisting the coaches at the club, with a view to training to becoming a qualified coach.

Mr Turnbull said:

“I am delighted to help out Newmachar United FC. It is a great, local club, which gives youngsters the chance to get some exercise, acquire new skills and learn how to work well in a team. Greenwell Equipment also supports Aberdeen Football Club’s Youth Academy, as we see football as an important local activity and also a great discipline and training ground for young people.”

Derek Reid, one of the coaches for the club said:

“We are really grateful for Mark and Greenwell for their support. We often attend football festivals and the other teams all look great in their kit, so we are thrilled to see our boys all now looking professional. It gives the players a real sense of pride and belonging. Newmachar United FC is an inclusive club, there are no try-outs, and we are open to every child of any ability, so we try to keep our costs to a minimum.

“Kit sponsorship is important as it makes the boys proud to belong to Newmachar United FC, and encourages them to try their best for the team. The cost of football strips, equipment and transport can add up, so we welcome all the support we can get. The boys are delighted with the new, warm track-suits which they are wearing with pride.”

Greenwell Equipment comprises of four divisions, encompassing: Greenwell Warehousing, a supplier of high quality shelving and pallet racking; Greenwell Cabins, a distributor of accommodation and welfare modules; Greenwell Office, a supplier of a wide range of business furniture both new and second-hand, and Greenwell Containers, a supplier of high-quality shipping containers.

Family-run business Greenwell, which has 15 employees, is the North of Scotland official trading partner for Containex modular buildings. Greenwell holds a large stock at its depots across Aberdeen and Angus, enabling the firm to respond quickly to customers’ demands.

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Feb 102017
 

With thanks to Andrew Linklater, Director of Buckny Hydro

The new regime of business rates in Scotland has marked out hydropower for “special punishment”, threatening to end independent development of schemes north of the border, Scottish industry representatives at Alba Energy have warned.

Small hydro-businesses now face an increase in rates of up to 650%, with bills on some sites rising to as much as a quarter of their total turnover.
With some operators facing insolvency, others have been left to calculate the cost of a future in which renewable energy ceases to be financially sustainable.

An average hydro scheme such as the 500kW Buckny Hydro in Perthshire has seen its draft valuation rise from £32,000 to £93,000, a sum that represents 29% of its overall turnover.

The worst hit schemes have seen increases up to seven times their original value, with rateable valuations of up to 50% of turnover. The 1.9MW Ederline scheme on the banks of Loch Awe had a previous valuation of £98,000, now revised upwards to £405,000.

Many in the hydro industry fear that the Scottish Government has abandoned its green agenda. In 2015, while attacking the UK Government for removing subsidies for renewable energy, SNP ministers removed their own system of support. Alba Energy, representing hydro operators in Scotland, accepted the loss of rates relief and argued that the industry should pay its fair share, in line with other businesses.

What Alba says it cannot accept, however, is the “sudden, exponential increase” in valuations now being applied to hydro by assessors – out of all proportion to the economic realities of these sites. While many businesses in Scotland have suffered relative increases, hydro operators are preparing for bills to double, treble, or quadruple.

Martin Foster, Chairman of Alba Energy, said:

“We are not seeking special treatment. We want to know why we have been singled out for special punishment. Hydro is the original renewable energy source: the cleanest, most efficient, least obtrusive and longest-lasting. Yet the Scottish Government has facilitated a rates regime that will cripple the independent hydro industry it once claimed to support – while leaving the big energy companies unaffected.”

Alex Linklater, director of Buckny Hydro, said:

“The new rates regime contradicts the Scottish Government’s own energy strategy. Hydropower is not merely crucial to this strategy; it has brought significant growth to some of our remotest rural communities. As independent operators find themselves threatened with punitive levels of  taxation, we are seeking Government support, until a longer term solution is agreed.

“All Alba is asking for is an equitable model of valuation, one that will allow our industry to remain financially viable, while paying its fair share of rates.”

Scottish Assessors responsible for the revaluation have refused to publish a clear account of the method they are using to calculate the new valuations for hydro. Alba is calling on the SNP Government to rectify an indefensible lack of transparency in the light of “extreme perversities” resulting from the assessors’ system.

Alba will be assisting members to pursue formal appeals against valuations for hydros which have been hit by “off the scale” increases. But Government attempts to deflect criticism onto the appeals system, administered by the independent assessors and funded by local authorities, are being met with skepticism.

An appeal against the Tayside Valuation Board, brought in 2012 (which argued that the assessor had, even then, applied a flawed approach to small hydro) is still awaiting a second determination by the Tayside Appeals Committee – after nearly five years.

For further information contact Martin Foster at Alba Energy, pelton242@icloud.com, 07500 902531, or Alex Linklater, alexlinklater@mac.com, 07956 303 580

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Feb 102017
 

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR

As cybercrime continues to be a real and growing menace to business, data backup must become a greater part of continuity planning, according to a Scottish IT business leader.

Data backup is one of the most important areas of IT and yet is also one of the most ignored, Austen Clark of Clark Integrated Technologies has warned ahead of World Backup Day on March 31.

A study last year found that while 36% backup their business data entirely there are 36% who back nothing up at all.

“It is the time put a clear focus on data backup, with man-made cybercrime threats adding another dimension to the risk of data being destroyed or deleted” says Mr Clark.

“We are living in a data-driven society and data is crucial to the smooth running of any business.

“As such backing up data is an essential security measure in today’s computing world. The rise in ransomware attacks which effectively take data hostage from business is just one example of how data loss can happen.  An attack can has financial implications and can cost hundreds or thousands of pounds to businesses.

“Data has gained intrinsic value, either in the staff time needed to generate it or in its relevance to your clients. Data loss, both accidental and due to theft, costs millions of pounds to businesses every year.”

Mr Clark answers some of the most commonly posed questions around the subject.

What is backing up?

Quite simply, backing up is making a copy of your most important files which can be used if the original copy is lost, with the second copy ideally held at different location to the original and be kept in a secure environment.

It is usual for data to be saved to just one place, like ‘My Documents’ on a PC’s hard drive but if this data were accidentally changed or deleted it would take considerable time and expense to restore, with the possibility it may never to be recovered.

Growing numbers of computer viruses have become a risk to business information, and once they have infected your machine they may delete or corrupt your data.

Other common causes of date loss are physical failure of a PC or Server, accidental error, theft or disasters like fire, flood or even simply a dropped glass of water.

Data backup should be specifically tailored for your business.

What data should I backup?

When choosing what data to back up think about what you would need to continue working if your network was damaged.

Clients address, telephone details, your account information, important documents. How long has it taken you to collate all this information and what would happen if you couldn’t get it back once lost? These are the key questions to think about around backing up.

What types of backup are there?

There are various types of backup available and the one you choose will generally depend on time, security and budget. There are a number of frequently used backup solutions to suit business needs.

Memory stick devices tend to be used for smaller backups or mobile users. These are usually removable hard drives and are very popular. The disadvantages of these cheaper devices are that they are at times unreliable and easy to lose or damage due to their small size. The data which is held on them is usually unsecured, meaning if customer details or financial information is held on them this is a greater risk if they were to be lost or used by unauthorised personnel.

When a backup is done the previous backup is overwritten, meaning that only one version of the backup can be stored.

Tape backup is an old industry standard backup medium for businesses with a reasonable amount of data to backup. Daily, weekly and monthly backups can be carried out and as long as you have a managed tape rotation and store the tapes offsite it is a possibility to use this backup solution.

The disadvantages of tape are that it is slow, both to backup and to restore. As it is a manual process it can be subject to error and unless you remember to take the tapes offsite on a daily basis it is subject to the same threats as the original backup.

Online data backup is an efficient choice for small and medium businesses. There is no need to purchase hardware or software, just  a monthly service. Select the data you want to backup and it is transferred in an encrypted format to a high security data centre.

Backups are fully automated, meaning no user intervention is required and you can restore single files or full backups at the click of a mouse. Full protection and availability make this an attractive option. Different versions of backups are available, covering accidental changes made or deletions.

What other considerations are there?

Always test your recovery data – a backup is useless if it cannot restore correctly. Backup regularly, you don’t want to find out the last copy you made is several months old. Keep your backups off site, that way if you do lose data to a fire, flood or theft you know you can retrieve your information.

What about personal devices?

Research shows that 30% of people have never backed up but with 113 phones lost or stolen every two minutes and one in 10 computers infected with a virus each month it is just as important to back up data here too which means it can be saved in the event of a disaster or accident.

 

 

 

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Feb 072017
 

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

VisitAberdeenshire is looking to capitalise on £175 million of German tourism spend in Scotland by attracting new visitors to the north east of Scotland.

The tourism organisation will attend VisitScotland’s Frankfurt Workshop – an exhibition and Burns Supper – on 7 February. VisitAberdeenshire business development director Jenni Fraser will meet key business tourism trade decision makers to promote Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire to the German travel market.

While at the exclusive German event, Jenni (pictured) will promote Lufthansa’s direct air links between Frankfurt and Aberdeen International Airport, as well as the wealth of conference and event venues throughout the region.

The trip to attract business travel from Germany – Scotland’s second largest international inbound travel market – follows hot on the heels to a VisitAberdeenshire leisure travel trade mission to the Stavanger Travel Day in Norway last week.

Jenni says,

“The future of business tourism in the north east of Scotland is looking bright, with several important developments set to revitalise the region’s offering to conference, events and incentive organisers.

“The city’s infrastructure is currently undergoing a massive overhaul, including the £20 million expansion of Aberdeen International Airport which will greatly improve services available to international travellers. As well as encouraging new direct flights, these improvements will also enhance the experience of those travelling on existing routes including from Frankfurt.

“Ground has also been broken on the £333 million redevelopment of Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) which will transform the north east’s conference and meetings offering, for both large and small scale events. As well as relocating nearer to the airport – making it more convenient to business travellers – the new AECC will also boast increased exhibition and meeting space.

“Similarly, Aberdeen Art Gallery and the Music Hall are also undergoing major refurbishments – worth a total of £37 million. These will not only increase leisure facilities in the city centre, but also offers unique spaces for drinks receptions and gala dinners.

“Aside from major developments, Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire boast some incredible independent venues that are perfect for smaller meetings and incentive provision. From exclusive use of a historic castle or a privately-chartered steam train; conferences at a unique seafront venue or golfing at one of over 50 world-renowned golf courses; Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire have so much to offer.

“We look forward to meeting with key German business tourism buyers to encourage them to visit Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.”

For more information about conferences and events in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire – or about the region in general – visit www.visitabdn.com

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Feb 022017
 

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

Hall Morrice employee Andrew Laurie, who received the Ronald Ison Medal for the candidate with the highest mark in the Taxation of Individuals paper

An Aberdeen-based accountant has emerged as the top-scoring student in a national Chartered Institute of Taxation exam.
Andrew Laurie from independent firm Hall Morrice LLP was awarded the Ronald Ison Medal for the candidate with the highest mark in the Taxation of Individuals paper – an exam that he hopes will eventually help him achieve Chartered Taxation Advisor (CTA) status.

Andrew (30) was one of over 200 candidates from around the UK to pass the exam, and did so with distinction.

He has previously passed all his CTA exams at the first attempt, and will sit his final test in May.

He joined Hall Morrice as a graduate trainee in the audit and accounts team and qualified as a Chartered Accountant (CA) with the support of the firm. Director of tax Stuart Watson saw that he had a natural aptitude for the subject, and Andrew joined the tax department over three years ago.

Andrew, who is employed as a senior tax analyst with Hall Morrice, says,

“With Stuart’s encouragement, I decided to study for my CTA qualification and was delighted when the firm provided a study package to help me achieve this.

“I had hoped that I had performed well in the exam, but to learn that I had passed with the highest mark on the paper came as a real surprise. I’m very pleased as it was the result of a lot of studying, but more than that shows the effort that Hall Morrice has made in training me and mentoring me over the years.”

Students studying towards the CA qualification sit a paper which covers taxation, but at a relatively basic level compared to the knowledge required for the CTA exams. CTA is seen as the gold standard for advisors and is absolutely essential for anyone wishing to specialise at a high level in taxation.

Hall Morrice, which employs around 50 members of staff, has a long and successful track record as a training firm, and consistently develops graduates to very high levels. It has invested heavily in bespoke training programmes aimed at improving the learning process for its graduates, and the approach has seen exam pass rates soar.

Last year, the firm was shortlisted in two categories in Scotland’s Employer of the Year Awards in recognition of its efforts to develop staff and invest in young people. Hall Morrice accepts new graduates every year, and is also committed to offering placements to accountancy students.

Stuart, who has worked in taxation for over 40 years says,

“We are immensely proud of Andrew’s achievement. To perform better than any other CTA student in the country underlines not only how hard he has worked on his studies, but also the opportunities that he has had to put his learning into practice in his day to day role here at Hall Morrice.

“As the tax department is relatively small, our team has to be able to advise on a wide range of tax issues and not specialise in any one particular area. Andrew covers the whole scope of our service provision, from personal taxation and tax returns to share valuations and tax planning.

“It has always been the firm’s aim to recruit the best and in terms of technical ability, Andrew’s success in this paper has shown that he has a very bright future ahead of him.”

Founded in 1976, Hall Morrice is one of Scotland’s leading independent firms of chartered accountants and has offices in Aberdeen and Fraserburgh. Based at 6 and 7 Queens Terrace in Aberdeen, Hall Morrice can be contacted on 01224 647394 or at accounts@hallmorrice.co.uk

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Feb 022017
 

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

VisitAberdeenshire’s business development manager Jenni Fraser.

Over 6,000 Norwegian holidaymakers will have the chance to learn all about the north east of Scotland when VisitAberdeenshire heads to the Stavanger Travel Day this weekend. The tourism body will exhibit at the top travel event held in the Clarion Hotel Stavanger on February 4.

VisitAberdeenshire’s business development manager Jenni Fraser and tourism executive Raeanne Farquhar will attend the event, which will allow them to speak directly with Norwegian travellers to reveal everything Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire have to offer.

With multiple airlines operating direct flights between Stavanger and Aberdeen, including SAS and Wideroe, there has never been a better time for Norwegians to visit the north east of Scotland.

Exhibition attendees will even have the opportunity to win a weekend in the Granite City with flights provided by Wideroe. The lucky winners will stay at the Macdonald Norwood Hall Hotel, and will receive tickets to any Aberdeen Festival which coincides with their visit.

Jenni says,

“Norway has long been an important market for tourism in the north east of Scotland, and at just over an hour’s flight time it’s easy to see why. The region is appealing for Norwegians looking for a weekend city break or to explore some fantastic countryside.

“Historic castles and traditional whisky distilleries remain a big draw for Norwegian tourists. From Slain’s Castle in Cruden Bay, which inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula, to the regal Royal Lochnagar Distillery, nestled in the hills beneath Balmoral Castle, the north east of Scotland certainly isn’t a disappointment.

“But whisky and castles aren’t the only reason that Norwegian travellers make the journey to visit Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. The fact that there are over 50 golf courses, including impressive links courses along the Aberdeenshire Coast, is a real attraction – the Norwegian Golf Federation, the country’s fourth largest sporting organisation, boasts over 103,000 members.

“World-class outdoor activities in Royal Deeside and wider Aberdeenshire, and a growing reputation for fine food and drink, mean that more and more holidaymakers are considering the north east as a holiday destination. And our cultural offering – including festivals like True North and the Aberdeen International Youth Festival – also provides a unique programme of entertainment that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

 “We look forward to meeting the Norwegian public in Stavanger, and showing them all that Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire have to offer.”

For more information about Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, visit www.visitabdn.com

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Feb 022017
 

With thanks to Gemma Setter, PR Account Executive, Frasermedia.

Ace Winches Apprentices.

A specialist training company is calling on employers to adopt an apprentice after a number of young learners were made redundant from a deck machinery company.
ITCA Training, which is based at the Kirkhill Industrial Estate in Dyce, is urging businesses to consider taking on one of the apprentices and providing them with the opportunity to complete their apprenticeship qualifications.

A group of ten apprentices are now looking for employment after being made redundant from Ace Winches in Turriff earlier this month.

The boys, who are aged between 17 and 20, were all working as apprentice engineers, with the exception of one fabricator/welder.

The head count reduction at the firm is another major blow for vulnerable apprentices in the region, as it comes just seven months after 17 apprentices were made redundant from the now defunct Enterprise Engineering Services (EES).

ITCA is hoping that a £5000 incentive from the Scottish Government will encourage employers to recognise the benefits of training young talent. The incentive is part of the Adopt an Apprentice scheme, which aims to get redundant apprentices back into work as quickly as possible.

Recent figures show that the North-east currently has the highest number of redundancies for apprentices in Scotland. As well as this, the number of new apprenticeship starts in 2016 dropped by 40% in Aberdeen and 14% in Aberdeenshire compared to the year before.

June Jones, managing director of ITCA, said:

“It is very alarming that another business is shedding a large number of apprentices that have yet to complete their training.

“The figures indicating the high percentage of apprenticeship redundancies in the North-east, as well as the drop in the number of new starts, are extremely concerning. If this carries on much longer then it will result in a skills gap and a severe shortage of skilled workers in the future.

“We appreciate that the market is incredibly tough at the moment, but it is the responsibility of businesses to employ and grow their own talent.

“We hope that employers will come forward to claim the £5000 incentive by taking on an apprentice. By doing so, they will enable a young learner to complete their apprenticeship and will help to safeguard the future of home-grown talent in the North-east.”

ITCA Training, which is one of the largest engineering apprenticeship-training firms in Scotland, is situated at Howe Moss Drive in the  Kirkhill  Industrial Estate, Dyce. The base, which spans almost 22,000sq feet, includes offices, classrooms, a storage yard, and workshop space. The company has been in operation in the  North-east  since 1989, and provides training for young employees in various sectors including welding, fabrication, mechanical engineering, business administration and logistics.     

To find out more about ITCA visit www.itca-training.com

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Jan 272017
 

With thanks to Gemma Setter, PR Account Executive, Frasermedia.

ITCA’s new fabrication/welding instructor and assessor, Richard Femister.

A leading North-east apprenticeship-training centre has strengthened its team with two key appointments.

ITCA Training, which is headquartered in the Kirkhill Industrial Estate in Dyce, has recruited Stewart Caie as a business development executive and Richard Femister as a fabrication/welding instructor and assessor.

Mr Caie, 51, of Portlethen, has over 25 years experience in sales roles across a number of industries, including medicine and engineering, and previously worked in business development at a hydraulic engineering firm before joining ITCA.

Mr Femister, 34, from Aberdeen, originally started his career at ITCA, where he trained for his fabrication and welding certificates. Since then, he has gained 15 years experience in welding and fabrication and has two years of experience in inspection. He joins the firm from an oil and gas valve services company.

ITCA, which is one of the largest engineering apprenticeship-training firms in Scotland, works with a wide range of businesses across the North-east to provide training for young employees, with both traditional hands-on and business-focused courses and apprenticeships.

Mr Caie said:

“It is very rewarding to be working for a company that focuses on the development of the future workforce. It is my responsibility to develop existing business, as well as expanding ITCA’s current portfolio, and I am looking forward to building strong relationships with our clients.”

ITCA’s new business development executive, Stewart Caie.

Mr Femister said:

“Training at ITCA as an apprentice gave me the opportunity to learn and develop important skills in welding and fabrication, as well as the importance of health and safety.

“I am enjoying being back at the company where it all began, as I get the opportunity to share my knowledge and expertise with the range of learners who attend the courses at ITCA and the apprentices who are just at the beginning of their careers.”

Managing director of ITCA Training, June Jones, said:

“I am very pleased to welcome two highly skilled individuals to the ITCA team. Stewart and Richard each bring with them a wealth of knowledge and experience, which will prove extremely beneficial to ITCA clients and our learners.

“Having Stewart on board will enable us to continue to develop, whilst Richard will help train the next generation to the highest of standards.”

ITCA Training, which is one of the largest engineering apprenticeship-training firms in Scotland, is situated at Howe Moss Drive in the  Kirkhill  Industrial Estate, Dyce. The base, which spans almost 22,000sq feet, includes offices, classrooms, a storage yard, and workshop space.

The company has been in operation in the  North-east  since 1989, and provides training for young employees in various sectors including welding, fabrication, mechanical engineering, business administration and logistics.    

To find out more about ITCA visit www.itca-training.com 

Jan 192017
 

With thanks to Jessica Murphy, Senior Account Executive, Citrus:Mix.

An Aberdeen financial services company is celebrating after winning two finance industry
awards.
Phil Anderson Financial Services, which has offices in Aberdeen, Ellon and Caithness, retained its title as Best Financial Advisory Firm – Northern Scotland at the Wealth & Finance 2016 Finance Awards for the second year in a row.

The firm, which specialises in mortgages, investments and pensions, was also awarded with the Excellence in Client Service – Northern Scotland accolade at the same awards, finishing off an extremely successful year for the business.

Now in its third year, the Wealth & Finance Finance Awards is a prestigious programme that is dedicated to recognising and supporting talented firms, individuals and departments within the finance industry.

Laura Hunter, awards coordinator at Wealth and Finance International, said:

“We would like to congratulate Phil and his team on both award wins at the Wealth & Finance 2016 Finance Awards.

“Our winners are comprised of some of the most influential names in the financial market, so to win an award two years in a row demonstrates that Phil Anderson Financial Services is consistent in providing a high quality service.

“I would like to wish everyone at the firm the very best of fortunes going forward.”

Phil Anderson (pictured), managing director of Phil Anderson Financial Services, said:

“2016 was a great year for us, as the business has grown from strength to strength, so to be recognised for our achievements was a fantastic feeling.

“My team and I are all absolutely delighted, as we work incredibly hard through the year to provide our clients with the best service possible, by ensuring that they get the right financial advice for their situation.

“We’ve definitely started the New Year on a high and we’re all looking forward to what the business can achieve in the year ahead.”

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