Argosy Control Engineering, a family firm specialising in Aberdeen’s offshore oil industry, has been in business for almost 30 years. Here, Managing Director Karen Watt describes what it’s been like to work with AAB from both a business and personal perspective, especially during a particularly life-changing time.

My husband Peter and I had worked with a number of different accountancy firms over the years before we started working with AAB. As a rapidly growing business, we found that we needed different support at different times, but we’d got to know the guys and liked their gentlemanly approach – they weren’t offering the hard sell. So, when the time came to work with a bigger firm, we chose them.

Initially, we were looking for general accountancy support, but this developed when we needed to split the company up in to three different parts: AAB’s knowledge and experience in this area was second to none.

The success of this project prompted us to look at creating an exit strategy and that’s when wealth team got involved. This was something we’d been putting off for a while! You have to be in the right frame of mind to think about it because you have to think about Wills, pensions, trusts etc., but we knew it had to be done.

A life-changing moment

It was during this time that Peter was suddenly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was perfectly fit and healthy at the time, so it was an utter shock. But ever practical, just a week after he was diagnosed, he said we needed to meet with Amanda from AAB and it was at this point that we saw them as working with us not for us. For me it’s an important distinction.

The team were completely on our side. A week later, Amanda had pulled everything together including lawyers and a list of decisions that needed to be made regarding the exit. And these were all done and dusted in two meetings.

Without Amanda, Lisa and Ian, I couldn’t have got through the last 12 months as, sadly, Peter passed away last year. AAB has a tremendous work ethic that resonates throughout the whole team; the support they gave me was second to none.

Personal and business

There were so many things I needed help with, from a business and personal perspective.

For example, when it came down to the estate, AAB appointed two lawyers that were the perfect fit. Time is critical when you’re in my situation there’s not enough hours in the day. There’s no way I could have sorted that out myself.

That’s not to say you couldn’t sit down with Google and find the answers, but even then, how would you know to make the right decision? It’s about having a team on your side.

A reality check

The whole situation with losing Peter the way we did was a reality check. I thought he was going to be forever – but something like this changes your whole perspective on life and it’s then that you need good people who can help you and who you trust; there’s no substitute for that.

And they’re all so incredibly empathetic – you can tell these people your innermost secrets! To have so much support but also sensitivity was above and beyond.

But in addition to that is the wealth of knowledge they provide across the board, which is outstanding; no matter what the issue is, if it has a pound sign next to it, they can answer it! There was no distinction between the accountancy and wealth businesses – I saw them as one team. And they work in a similar to us in that if they don’t know the answer to a question there and then, they’ll find the answer from another member of the team.

Planning the future

My future is not what I wanted so I have to look at my own road map and decide what I want to do. This means there are lots of changes to be made yet, and just knowing that AAB can facilitate all of these problems gives me a great deal of comfort. Keeping it all under one roof, with one email, one phone number is great. They do the coordination from the inside, which makes things so simple.

People think accountants don’t have a sense of humour! But from being friendly and helpful to being kind, wonderfully empathetic and even humorous, AAB have it all.

I think they could be summed up by calling them ‘solutions architects’. If you have a problem that’s where you go – they’ll tell you ‘This is who we’re going to give you, and more importantly, this is what you need.’ This is so important because you don’t always know what your next step should be.

They’re very good at looking to the future for you because when you’ve been through a life-changing event, you can’t possibly do that. AAB are coaching me through the next 5-10 years, and I look forward to continuing to have the whole team by my side throughout.