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Firm established by soldiers returning from the Great War now employs more than 200 people

PUBLISHED: 10:43 15 February 2019 | UPDATED: 10:43 15 February 2019

Bland Fielden senior staff circa 1970. Back row: Tommy Parr (insurance manager), Leslie Baker (general accounts manager), Alan Martin (audit manager), Bob Fisher (building society manager), Ben Herbert (senior exec), Ernest Purser (manager – worked for Bland Fielden for 61 years), Gerald Bird (tax dept), Dick Phillips (partner, general accounts), Tom Lachohee (senior exec), Charlie Bareham (tax dept manager), Frank Eldred (audit senior exec), Laurie Loxley (audit manager). Front row: Charles Lissimore (audit manager), Yvonne Whyman (receptionist), Geoffrey Lockhart (partner), Christine Pittock (manager, general accounts), Russell Wray (partner), C Lupton Fielden (partner), Eric Bland (partner), George Digby (partner and former Colchester United player), Yvonne Ling (audit manager), Clifford Robins (partner).

Bland Fielden senior staff circa 1970. Back row: Tommy Parr (insurance manager), Leslie Baker (general accounts manager), Alan Martin (audit manager), Bob Fisher (building society manager), Ben Herbert (senior exec), Ernest Purser (manager - worked for Bland Fielden for 61 years), Gerald Bird (tax dept), Dick Phillips (partner, general accounts), Tom Lachohee (senior exec), Charlie Bareham (tax dept manager), Frank Eldred (audit senior exec), Laurie Loxley (audit manager). Front row: Charles Lissimore (audit manager), Yvonne Whyman (receptionist), Geoffrey Lockhart (partner), Christine Pittock (manager, general accounts), Russell Wray (partner), C Lupton Fielden (partner), Eric Bland (partner), George Digby (partner and former Colchester United player), Yvonne Ling (audit manager), Clifford Robins (partner).

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A company with its roots in Ipswich and Colchester is celebrating 100 years in business this month.

When Alfred Scrutton and Francis Goodchild opened their accountancy firm in Ipswich in 1919, it is unlikely that they would have imagined that the business would still exist today, let alone having offices in four counties and employing more than 200 people.

Scrutton Bland as the firm is now known, is the product of several historical mergers and acquisitions between local accountancy and insurance businesses. Of these unions, the most impactful was the joining together of Suffolk-based Scrutton and Goodchild and Colchester insurance brokers Bland Fielden, both of whom were established in 1919 meaning that Scrutton Bland celebrates a double centenary this year.

“Our founding firms were established by soldiers returning from the Great War,” said current managing partner Jason Fayers. “They recognised the need for financial advice and insurance that the years of war had created and set up a service for both business and individuals to meet those needs. It is hard to imagine how life was back then, but one thing remains the same today, which is that people still need sound professional advice when it comes to their finances.”

In 1990 the firm rebranded as the Scrutton Bland Group, and in 2004 expanded its operations into Norfolk with the acquisition of Merrick Hill insurance brokers.

The Black Bell Inn before being converted to Scrutton and Goodchild offices. Picture: Scrutton BrandThe Black Bell Inn before being converted to Scrutton and Goodchild offices. Picture: Scrutton Brand

By the mid 2000s, the success of the Group meant that Scrutton Bland had outgrown both its Colchester and Ipswich offices, and in 2007 the firm expanded into a new building on Colchester Business Park and moved into a three-story office on Ipswich’s Crown Street in 2014.

In 2017 the firm expanded once again, this time northwards, increasing the size of its site in Diss and crossing over the border to open a new office in Cambridge later that year.

With such a long history in the region, some of the firm’s relationships with clients today go back three or four generations.

Tim Mulley, senior partner, believes there is a similarity between the business approach today and that of 100 years ago.

The Bland Fielden offices at Sir Isaac’s Walk, around the time it was purchased in 1926.
Picture: Scrutton BrandThe Bland Fielden offices at Sir Isaac’s Walk, around the time it was purchased in 1926. Picture: Scrutton Brand

“Our business is based on trust,” he said. “Looking after people’s livelihoods, whether that is in business or their personal finances is a huge responsibility and one which we take very seriously.

“In my view where so many businesses fail is that they view their clients merely as ‘commodities’, numbers on a spreadsheet – we’ve never operated that way. We see ourselves very much as part of the community within which our clients live and work, and that means we genuinely want to achieve the best for them. If we hadn’t maintained that integrity in our approach, I don’t think we would still be here 100 years on.”

Despite its long history, the modern day Scrutton Bland is keen to embrace new technology.

The firm claims to have been one of the first adopters of cloud-based accounting in the region, and recently secured exclusive partnership arrangements with online apps and software providers to ensure that it remains well positioned to adapt to its clients’ needs as both business and personal finances become increasingly digitalised.

The original certificate of insurance dates the foundation of Bland & Son to June 1919. Picture: Scrutton BlandThe original certificate of insurance dates the foundation of Bland & Son to June 1919. Picture: Scrutton Bland

Simon Pinion, a business advisory partner who is responsible for developing the firm’s digital strategies, identifies this as probably one the most dramatic changes to affect the firm in its history: “Advisory services are changing. Technology is increasingly replacing much of the work which traditionally would have been carried out by hand by an accountant or tax adviser.

“In fact, in a few years almost all the day-to-day tasks which our founders would have undertaken for clients will be automated.”

But, far from being a disaster, Simon sees this as the very thing that could secure the future of the firm for decades to come. “You don’t get to celebrate 100 years in business without having adapted to the market around you and ensuring that you are offering your clients what they need. Whilst the digital age sees an unprecedented rate of change, we are responding by developing and adapting the type of services we offer and the way in which we deliver them to our clients.”

To mark the centenary milestone the marketing team at Scrutton Bland would love to hear about any memories and stories about the firm over the years. If you have any recollections, please contact the team at 100years@scruttonbland.co.uk

Scrutton and Goodchild’s new Art Deco inspired offices in 1938. Picture: Scrutton BlandScrutton and Goodchild’s new Art Deco inspired offices in 1938. Picture: Scrutton Bland

The Bland Fielden offices at Sir Isaac’s Walk, converted to Scrutton Bland offices, in around 2005.The Bland Fielden offices at Sir Isaac’s Walk, converted to Scrutton Bland offices, in around 2005.

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