After building his Fife firm for four decades, James Hair thought about his retirement. Selling up and walking away was something he’d never do.
After striking out on his own in 1980, James Hair & Co has grown steadily and now has 21 staff.
The Cupar accountants added a St Andrews office six years ago. Meanwhile its financial advice arm has almost £100 million under management.
The organic growth of the firm has been based on the ethos of always doing what’s right for the client.
And Mr Hair put that principle to the front of his mind when thinking of his retirement.
Exit strategy planned for 10 years
“The owners of firms like ours will often sell up and retire,” he said.
“But a lot of my clients are based in North East Fife and I see these people socially.
“I’d never want someone to tackle me a year after I’d retired and ask ‘what have you done to me?’
“I preach continuously about the important of succession within family businesses. I decided on my exit strategy more than 10 years ago.”
Over the years Mr Hair has selected four directors to take the business forward.
They are long-standing directors Raymond Hutt, Barbara Acheson and David Arthur as well as Sheena Gibson, who joined last year to focus on agricultural clients. Mr Hair will keep an equity stake.
“If I can wind down and eventually clients don’t even notice I’ve gone that would be perfect,” he laughed.
“It’s all about making it a smooth transition and keeping the clients comfortable and happy.
“Selfishly it also suits me as it’s not the case that I’m working one day and stop the next.
“I will also keep an equity stake in the business to give input on its future direction.”
James Hair striking out on his own aged 25
Mr Hair has reduced his hours to three days a week, allowing him to spend a bit more time on the golf course.
He is a member of the R&A and a committee member at Ladybank Golf Course, where he recently completed a two year spell as captain.
Aged 25, Mr Hair decided to set up his own practice in Cupar.
The business has developed to serve four key service lines – traditional accounting, tax, business consultancy and financial planning/investment.
He said: “We offer a comprehensive and integrated suite of financial services.
“The profession has changed a lot over the years. The adoption of technology has caused a fundamental change.
“The three words we have used over the years are service, support and solutions.
“I’ve been very fortunate all my working life. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve done but I can’t go on forever.”
Mr Hair said the firm remained ambitious.
“The plan is not to stand still. We want to continue growing,” he added.