The new Yorkshire senior practice manager for professional services giant Deloitte has pledged to grow its market share in the region and hinted at further hires into its Leeds office.
Stuart Cottee, a Deloitte veteran of 25 years and a former partner at its Leeds office, said he had ambitious plans to grow the business in Yorkshire and develop beyond its current areas of expertise.
In his first media interview since assuming the role, Mr Cottee, who replaced Martin Jenkins in January, said he was targeting more transactions and deals from the Yorkshire team and wanted to see Deloitte become more woven into the fabric of Yorkshire’s business community.
Mr Cottee said: “We have a fabulous business and a lot of what do here with partners is to talk about making more of the brand we have.
“I have really big plans to grow the business.
“The partners have all signed up. I have come with a growth number which is as bold as I have been in terms of how I have grown other businesses, but in the context of Deloitte it is pretty bold.
“It is undoubtedly the best tax business in the city. We have 10 tax partners in the business here and I think we can grow markedly from what it is now. Other areas of our business definitely have more scope for growth.”
Mr Cottee, who grew up in the North East and has worked for Deloitte all over the country, said the firm’s current national strategy lay beyond the capital and that he wanted Yorkshire to play a key role in this.
“We can’t keep growing our footprint in London,” he said.
“We need to build our regional platforms. We have got very strong, successful regional offices and I would say of all the Big Four, our regional business would probably be the strongest, and I am very proud of that.
“We have shifted quite a lot of work out of London. It is not about making this a service centre, that is not what I want.
“This is about giving our people fabulous experience and then applying it to the local market.
“There is talk of us hiring 40 people or more into the transactions team outside of London and I want a decent chunk of them to be here. I want us to transact more.
“We have great skills here but we have tended to be sector-based. There are things that we are very good at, and I want to continue that. But equally I want us to do the deals that happen in this market and all the guys are up for that.
“I am very enthusiastic about what we can achieve growth-wise.
“Every business I have ever been involved in has been a growth leader.”
When quizzed on the avenues he saw for growth, Mr Cottee said there would be elements of new business and expanding upon what it does currently.
“We have got to take market share,” he said.
“I think there is loads for us to go on.
“We absolutely should play to our strengths which are healthcare, FS, the retail side of things –those are the three natural areas, and we are pretty good in manufacturing too.
“There are new spaces and new sectors I would like to do more of. But it has been fascinating for me. In London, every time I won a new client it tended to be in that tech and digital space.”
He added: “I do want us to make a bigger conversation within the region. Most of the Manchester partners are involved within a LEP or charities, or other initiatives.
“And our partners are brilliant at serving their clients, and our clients tell other clients that we are brilliant at serving them.
“But I think we need to think a bit broader than that. I want to make sure we do leave a people legacy in the region. I care about the region and want it to be successful.”
Mr Cottee was particularly enthused by the team he has and said he is relishing taking control of the Yorkshire practice.
“I am really enjoying it. It is a fantastic role and it is great to be back.”
He added: “I am from a rough part of the North East, most people did not go on to do A Levels at my school and now I am the practice senior partner for Deloitte in the Yorkshire and the North East.
“You pinch yourself and ask ‘how did that happen?’. And it happened because every time I have ever been comfortable the firm has given me something else challenging to do.”
Mr Cottee was adamant he did not want the direction the firm took under his leadership to be all about him but the wider team, and said he had made a number of cultural changes to assist with this.
“This is not going to be the Stuart Cottee show,” he said.
“Our partner means are different now. They are not in working hours, they are at dinners. It is as much about the social as it is the business side of things.
“How do your clients know what we can do if we don’t know what we can do?
“This is going to sound very colloquial but I want Deloitte in Yorkshire to get more than its fair share.”