Showcasing the Best of Welsh Business


Emma Meets – Rhian Owen – Audit Partner – Grant Thornton UK


Emma Peterson, Director FinTech Awards Wales & Finance Awards Wales Meets:

Rhian Owen,

Audit Partner,

Grant Thornton UK

Tell me about your business?

We’re a business adviser that helps companies and organisation achieve growth by supporting the development and delivery of strategic plans to best effect. Our team supports a diverse range of clients from small owner managed businesses through to listed entities, along with public sector and not-for-profit organisations.

In the UK we’re led by 190 partners and over 4,500 people. We can also call on a global network of some 50,000 people in over 135 countries.

Why did you choose to sponsor the Finance Awards Wales 2020?

To recognise, celebrate and promote the talented finance professionals working in Wales. We understand the need to produce future leaders from graduates and school leavers who will be fit to support businesses for the economy for today and the future. People who are going to be adding to the businesses that we have across this region, and the businesses that invest in their people and technologies allow innovation to happen.

What impact do you feel the Awards have made in the Finance sector in Wales?

Regulatory change, pressure on cost management, the need to grow, and increased investment in technology and data are dominating the financial services industry. It is the people, the finance professionals, the UK bankers, insurers and asset managers which are the key drivers for the industry, and even when inevitably faced with this long period of disruption have sought out the opportunities amongst the challenges. As we plan for the future, these awards will help harness the power of finance workforces to transform and grow at scale and speed, while meeting the expectations of the businesses in the sector. It’s important to recognise the agile team of industry experts who bring sector knowledge and practical advice.

How has your business been affected by Covid-19 and how have you been able to respond to this? Which areas have we seen the most growth and why?

Words like ‘unprecedented’, ‘pivot’ and ‘upheaval’ have become part of the everyday language of business since March 2020.  We’ve been exceptionally busy helping companies adjust to the new realties and pick the right way forward. It follows that we have been speaking positively about growth within the firm, especially given the firm’s results for the past year.

The momentum had really started building through Q3 and Q4 last year. This has continued strongly into this current financial year and currently shows little sign of slowing. All parts of the business are trending well and ahead of last year – but the one part of the business that is really flying is Deals and Business Consulting (D&BC).

D&BC was impacted by the slowdown in Q2 2020, but we have seen strong growth since due to strong global liquidity, certain sectors faring particularly well during the pandemic and many businesses embracing a change to ways of working and operating models.

A key strength of our firm is the diversity of our service offering and the cyclical and counter-cyclical nature of our D&BC business, which has really paid dividends over recent months.

Last year, tax planning was relegated down the agenda for many businesses, but clients are again engaging in all areas of Tax. The audit market remains in a state of flux, which presents an opportunity for us to strengthen our client base, refocus on channel choice and reap the benefits of increased demand. Parts of the large corporate market – and especially Financial Services – are also growing strongly with digital transformation, governance and risk at the forefront of demand.

Government intervention has been significant over the last 12 months. With this now beginning to taper off, we expect the restructuring market to be more active later this year and into 2022. We are already seeing signs across our market-leading Forensics, Insolvency and asset recovery businesses that market conditions will continue to hot up throughout 2021 and beyond.

How do you feel the Welsh economy will fare over the next 12 months?

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The economy is a complicated machine with many moving parts.  As we move away – hopefully forever – from a period of dramatic lockdowns there may still be a few bumps on the road.  Confidence does help fuel growth and it’s important people don’t talk down the economy and indulge in doom mongering.  We’ve seen massive state intervention during the pandemic and help from state is an important party of the economic recovery too. Any recovery will have to be investment-led – both in terms of technology and a way in which people can work and still innovate. And obviously through access to finance as well.

Across the country, there are also a lot of transport and infrastructure projects that will need to be completed and improved, if we are to continue as a trading nation going forward. If you look at the last financial crisis, local and national infrastructure projects were key to the recovery. If we are to start paying back the inevitable deficit because of government investment over the last few months, we need to get these projects moving.

While some areas of the market are booming and headline growth forecasts for the UK economy are strong, some clients in certain sectors are still operating conservatively due to continued economic uncertainty.

What plans do you have for your business in 2021?

Our plans nationally and locally are to continue achieving sustainable growth.

In terms of what will impact where we get to this year, that will be impacted by access to talent, the wider economy and our ability to keep winning work.

Our people are key to us, and we are ensuring that they prioritise their wellbeing after such a difficult period for us all. We have significantly increased our recruitment efforts to bring new colleagues into the business. We are currently recruiting for nearly 400 new roles, significantly ahead of pre-pandemic levels, and we have invested in that team to set them up for success.