Meet the Founders – Part 1
Husband and wife team, Travis and Freccia Benn are the co-founders of Accounting for Energy, over the next two weeks they’ll be giving us a little insight into why they started the business, what makes them tick and their vision for the company. This week we speak to Travis.
You’ve had a 10-year career as an accountant; tell us a bit more about that?
I began my career working as an auditor for two global accountancy firms. This allowed me to see the inner workings of a large number of businesses and charities. I enjoyed building relationships with my clients and learning about their organisations. Moreover, I loved the huge variety of working environments (such as offices, factories, hospitals, schools, farms and power stations) and travelling extensively across the UK to do so.
How and why did you start Accounting for Energy?
The time came when I decided to cross over from the ‘dark side’ of practising as an auditor to working in industry – a well-known rite of passage trodden by many accountants before me. I was offered a position by the UK’s leading independent renewable energy developer, where I oversaw compliance with landowner leases for several hundred power stations, including wind farms, hydro and landfill sites. I realised that landowners were under-represented in the industry, and needed a louder voice and greater transparency. Therefore, I co-founded AfE to be able to work exclusively on behalf of landowners, acting as a trusted adviser to promote greater transparency and accountability.
Ok give us your Elevator Pitch – why should people trust and choose you?
We are specialists at reviewing landowner payments from wind farms, hydro and landfill sites. We have completed hundreds of reviews and we are already trusted advisers to many of the UK’s largest landowners. We understand that landowners have built a partnership with their site developer, which we aim to maintain and further develop during our review. We leave no stone unturned during our reviews; we identify underpayments in 75% of reviews and have a 98% recovery success rate. All reviews are overseen by a chartered accountant and qualified auditor, and we are a member firm of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, ensuring the highest standards.
Employee vs. business owner – what are the pros and cons for you?
I am incredibly grateful for having the opportunity to own and develop a business. It has provided greater freedom, flexibility and variety of work, particularly during the earlier days where one has to do the job of an entire team. It also teaches you to work around your strengths and weaknesses, and allows full control over your work-life balance. However, it can often be a lonely road, and the ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ are far more pronounced! Nevertheless, it has been an incredibly worthwhile journey!
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Check out part 2 of our Meet the Founders series where we hear from Co-Founder Freccia Benn.
“I hope to leave a more transparent and level playing field in this sector than the one which we started with."
Best thing about working with your spouse?
Many people imagine it would be very difficult to work alongside their spouse. However, it has been an experience second to none, and I have found that a journey shared is indeed a journey halved. Among other things, working together has promoted singleness of purpose and vision, while enabling us to use time more effectively.
However, I think it’s crucial to recognise each other’s strengths, and to relinquish control over areas you know you’re not good at!
What’s your vision for Accounting for Energy?
My vision is that AfE will become the leading firm and a household name for renewable energy royalty audits. I hope to leave a more transparent and level playing field than the one which we started with.
City or Country?
Country! I was born and spend my first eight years in Guyana, the only English speaking country in South America, and home of the world’s tallest waterfall and the Amazon rainforest.
My late granddad was a pig and cattle farmer, and many of my best childhood memories include the school holidays spent on the farms. Although I currently live in London, I relish every opportunity to visit the countryside, and I particularly enjoy walking (even if only along the River Thames).
To find out more …
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