Deloitte boss looks to set up Scottish digital hub
The head of Deloitte in Scotland wants to set up a digital hub to help the accountancy firm’s clients across the UK make better use of online technology.
Steve Williams, who started in the role in March this year, hopes to start work on the venture shortly and build up a team of software engineers and digital specialists over the next 18 months.
Deloitte already employs 850 across Scotland from its offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen with Mr Williams keen to grow that number.
Mr Williams moved from Leeds to Edinburgh in January, initially to head the accountancy firm’s financial services practice outside of London with a focus on challenger banks.
However, since coming to Scotland, he admitted he had been pleasantly surprised by the vibrant nature of the digital economy. Now, as managing partner, he is keen to add to Deloitte’s digital capabilities in Scotland.
He said: “I think will be absolutely fundamental to what we want to do. I probably wasn’t expecting to see such a vibrant digital technology market space in Scotland so that has been great.
“We are looking at how we organise our business a little bit in terms of perhaps using Scotland as a nearshore for the rest of the UK around digital.
“We do think there is a workforce here around that which is very skilful and we could use that for servicing a number of clients across the UK as a whole.”
Mr Williams indicated a similar scheme has started in Belfast but he is confident Scotland could act as a central base for a number of UK-wide functions.
He said: “It is around having teams who actually help clients develop their own proposition.
“That is about building websites, talking with clients and working with them on how to use digital channels better.
“Things like how to use analytics around that and how to scrape the various data that comes through.
“You don’t have to be in London to do that. We could have a lot of that based in Scotland.”
As well as his plans to boost the firm’s digital ability in Scotland Mr Williams is keen to increase the number of women in senior positions.
He believes a range of areas could by improved in order to retain females at all levels.
He said: “There are more things we could to facilitate more women to stay and move through to leadership positions.
“It is the right thing to do but also about having a better mix of views around the table.
“I want to make sure our partnership reflects and represents what our clients look like. That is about having international experience and a greater gender diversity in terms of our senior leadership team.”
Along with those ambitions Mr Williams is in the early stages of adding a dedicated food and drink practice to the firm’s existing offerings in areas such as financial services, oil and gas, the public sector and private client offerings.
He indicated he has one partner already lined up to lead the food and drink team and said: “We are just thinking about how we can put a proposition together.
“We cover through people who have expertise but we think we might be able to turn it into more of an industry group.
“My expectation is that will be a growth area for the Scottish economy around high quality food and drink.”
Alongside that Mr Williams is keen to grow the firm’s private client practice which looks after a number of privately owned businesses of varying sizes in Scotland.
He pointed to its work with the likes of travel search engine Skyscanner and fantasy sports game maker FanDuel as examples of working with businesses with high growth potential from a relatively early stage.
Mr Williams said: “There are different services we can provide at different stages of incubation.
“We do have a number of smaller audit clients but they are normally clients where, quite frankly, we expect them to be growing very fast and think they will need help as they change and develop.
“We have clients that are smaller than in the taxation and other advisory areas. That can work in what types of value can we add.”