Accountancy & Banking

Published: March 1, 2022 | Updated: March 2, 2022

High-profile independent business, Inspire, is acquired by UK top ten accountancy firm, Azets

(Left to right) Adam Wilson, Regional Managing Partner, Azets; Warren Munson, Managing Partner; Andrew Singleton, Partner and Chris Downing, Partner. Picture: SKC Photography.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

One of Dorset’s most high-profile businesses – Inspire Accountants – has been acquired by Azets, the UK Top Ten accountancy firm.

Poole-based Inspire – named ‘Medium Firm of the Year’ at the 2020 Accounting Excellence Awards – is now one of 86 offices in Azets’ UK regional network.

Warren Munson, Inspire’s Founder and Managing Director, becomes Managing Partner of Azets’ Poole office while colleagues Chris Downing and Andrew Singleton are Partners.

All 30 staff at Inspire’s Commercial Road office have transferred over to Azets which has 6,500 employees.

Inspire, which is rebranded as Azets, was established in 2004 and has around 1,000 clients across Bournemouth, Poole and the wider Solent region.

It also provides an on-call Financial Director service, known as FD on Demand, which provides clients with the experience and expertise of a full-time FD for the times when they need it.

Warren, 48, said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for Inspire and our clients.

“The acquisition demonstrates our commitment to the continued growth of our business, as we enter the next phase of our long and successful journey as part of the UK’s newest Top 10 accounting firm.

“Azets is a business which shares our clear focus on people and clients – it is the perfect fit both strategically and culturally.

“Inspire has a hard-earned reputation for delivering service excellence to businesses across Bournemouth, Poole and the wider Solent region.

“As part of Azets, our existing and new SME clients will benefit from an even broader set of specialist expertise, as they continue to drive forward the UK’s economic recovery.”

No commercial details have been revealed about the deal and Warren declined to say whether the acquisition followed an approach to Azets by Inspire or vice-versa.

But the reaction of clients, notified in advance of today’s announcement, had “blown me away”, he said.

Warren, pictured, added: “I’ve not had one negative comment or contact.

“Our clients are everything to me, many have been with me for most of the 18 years.

“To see the level of support and trust in me, and Inspire, is unbelievable.”

Warren, who worked for Grant Thornton as a Senior Manager before founding Inspire, said he felt “really excited” about the future.

Clients would benefit from access to more specialist advisory services such as banking and finance, data analytics, cyber security, forensics and restructuring, he said.

As for whether he would miss being MD of his own independent firm, Warren said that a constant feature of the last 18 years had been a sense of the risk and responsibility “and the things that keep you awake at night.”

He added: “I’m looking forward to doing what I do best which is focusing on the team and our clients.”

In 2018, Warren established Evolve to better support business owners and leaders through coaching, training and development.

Warren said Evolve remained as a separate, independent business and he would continue to be heavily involved with a “significant” contract due to be announced shortly.

Inspire is the second acquisition by Azets in three months as it continues its ambitious growth plans across the UK.

The firm was established in August 2016 and backed by Hg, one of the UK’s leading private equity investors.  

It now has 120,000 clients and more than 160 offices in the UK and internationally.

Azets officially launched its Bournemouth office, headed by Heather Williams, in November 2020.

Adam Wilson, Azet’s Regional Managing Partner, Solent Region, pictured left, said: “We’re excited to welcome Inspire to the Azets family; this firm has a reputation for high-quality people providing high-quality client service.

“The acquisition is another significant step on our growth journey to increase revenue by 50 per cent in the next five years.

“Azets offers trusted, business critical advice, compliance and outsourcing services to ambitious companies and business owners.

“Inspire is a logical and valuable addition to Azets, as we work to provide our clients with more advice that will improve their businesses and their lives.”