I hope you all had a really lovely Christmas and New Years, and gave yourself a well deserved break! Now we’re all settled into 2019, and back into the routine of working – I believe that this is the perfect time reflect on what happened last year and communicate to you what you’ll be seeing from us in the next few months.

January was a relatively quiet month for us, but February we became accredited as a living wage employer! You can read more about our decision to become accredited here. In April, Rachel was nominated and won the Santander Thames Valley Venus Awards for Entrepreneur of the year!RE award with Sir John Sue Reynolds Miriam and Sabina

At Holy Brook, every year we work with a charity, doing our best to support them throughout the year. Last year, we had the pleasure of working with Aspire 2, our charity of the year. In October we joined them for their annual quiz, and were runners up! We had a few team meet ups this year, but one of the most memorable for us is the one that was located in the stunning location at Ufton Court. Not only is it a wedding and meeting venue, it is continuously used by Aspire 2 to provide children days out, which are the highlight of the year for many children – read more about our charity of the year here.ae28677a-8c35-42f8-80bf-09ebc110e01e

The summer months were our busiest period, with Holy Brook taking on new clients and employees – even an intern! We also hosted a ‘pricing your work’ seminar at The Tasting House, which was a success. In September we joined our office, Grow in their Coffee and Cake morning to support Macmillan, and our very own Sabina won Best Baker with her delicious cakes!

To celebrate Small Business Saturday, which was the 1st December, we hosted a free networking event on the last Friday in the month of November in partnership with Ibis Styles Reading. Although this is something we’ve never done before, we really enjoyed being able to give something back to the community and help other small businesses as a means of connecting. It was definitely a success!sbs

In December we finished the year on a high, with our last team meeting of the year, and a lovely Christmas dinner. We also launched a new website for the Finance Team, to better communicate to you what our finance team does.meeting

2018 has definitely had its ups and downs for Holy Brook, but a huge learning curve. When looking at 2017’s blog post the review, its apparent in 2018 that we still feel very privileged to continually work with an amazing team and clients.

Looking forward to next year, we have a few ideas lined up, such as hosting more workshops and seminars but most of all we are really excited for the future of Holy Brook, and working with our clients. Thank you to all for your continued support. Here’s to an amazing 2019!



If you want to know more about the role of a treasurer, Holy Brook Associates runs a course ‘Don’t panic – Role of a treasurer’. This course goes into more detail regarding: the financial responsibilities of trustees, gives a greater understanding of the requirements of small voluntary organisations, provides resources that will be of great help for a treasurer and goes through worked examples of resolving issues with record keeping etc.  For more information on this contact Rachel Eden.

What are the responsibilities of a trustee?  

All trustees are responsible for ensuring the charity is running well. The main duties include:

  • Ensuring the charity is carrying out its purposes for the public benefit
  • Complying with the charity’s governing document and the law
  • Acting with the charity’s best interests 
  • Managing the charities resources and responsibilities 
  • Acting with reasonable care and skill
  • Ensuring the charity is accountable 

What are the responsibilities of a charity treasurer?

The role of a treasurer does not have any additional powers as each trustee is equally responsible to make sure that the charity produces the necessary documents. 

However, the role of a treasurer is to oversee the financial affairs of the charity and monitor and report on the financial health. The treasurer is often the person the trustees look for when needing advice, guidance and reassurance on all aspects of the financial management and reporting. 

Duties may include: 

  • General financial oversight: ensure compliance with relevant legislation 
  • Fund-raising and sales: advising the organisation’s fund-raising strategy 
  • Financial reporting: present accounts at the AGM 
  • Control of fixed assets and stock: ensure proper records are kept 

So, why should I consider this role? 

  1. Giving back to your community 

If you are passionate about a charity and their causes, putting yourself forward for the role is the perfect opportunity to do something for your community and the charity.

  1. Gaining new skills 

You’ll help grow and develop skills of strategic thinking. Even if you already have experience in this skill, it can be stimulating to use it in a different context which may bring different challenges. 

  1. Networking 

This role allows you to meet people from your local community that maybe you’d never have the chance to meet unless under these circumstances. 

  1. Rewarding 

Putting your financial experience to use can really make a big difference to the charity. You can really help to be part of the decision making that will impact the community positively and share your knowledge. 

  1. Experience 

Being a charity treasurer is really a very different experience. It offers the opportunity for professional development and it can really help boost your CV. 

Where else can I find support?

The Honorary Treasurers forum offers support and networking for those who take the role of treasure on nonprofit boards. 

Are you a charity treasurer or trustee? We’d love to hear your experience, let us know why you took on this role.

PrintThis week its living wage week!

You may have heard the news this morning that the real living wage has risen to £9 per hour. At Holy Brook Associates,  we are really proud that we are a living wage employer and wanted to share our reasons why we want to promote and encourage more businesses to be a living wage employer too!

What do the UK wage rates mean?

In the UK, there is the minimum wage, national living wage and real living wage, but what is the difference between them?

The minimum and national living wage are statutory government minimums for under 25’s and over 25’s retrospectively. However, the real living wage is a rate based on what people need to earn to be able to live on and is completely voluntary.

You can find the new rates here.

Why pay Real Living Wage?

Paying the living wage benefits business as well as employees.

Improve the reputation of your business

  • We have always been a living wage employer but deciding to bet accredited for this was a way to demonstrate to outsiders how treat our employees
  • Being able to highlight the fact that you value the hard work of your employees gives key examples of how you treat your employees, gives reason to why other businesses should undertake work with you and an insight into your culture.

Increase motivation and retention rates for employees

  • Living wage is all about paying your employees an honest days work. We believed it was not reasonable for us to employ people who are not able to pay bills etc. so we aim to take the ease of money worries so they can enjoy working for us!

Differentiate yourself from others in your industry

  • Being a small business in a world full of many other businesses, it can be hard to promote and market your business. Give your clients another reason to keep working/ or start working with you.  We really love the fact that we work with other businesses that are living wage employers.

Improve relations between managers and staff

  • This is only one way out of many that you could do this, for example team-building days.

If you’re a living wage employer, we’d love to hear from you! Let us know why you decided to become a real living wage employer below.



We’re running a short series of interviews about our team members to help you get to know us better.  Here is more about Claire Brown

_MG_82441. What do you do?

I’m the Assistant Coordinator at Holybrook and provide organisational support to the team. I am currently working on composing a Staff Handbook and helping to advise on HR policies and procedures. I also work with some of our clients offering financial and administrative assistance and am currently undertaking a Diploma in Personal Performance Coaching to be in a position to also offer coaching to clients next year.

2. Why are you a Holybrook Associate?

Having worked within a range of HR & Operational roles for the past 12 years across the Charity, Health & Education sectors I am really keen to extend my skills to the Commercial Sector. Working with a team with such diverse skill sets creates a great environment for learning and development, which is something I’m really passionate about.

3. What do you like most about working/living in and around Reading?

Reading combines great vibrancy and access to London and other major cities whilst also offering some really stunning peaceful green spaces just a short journey away.

4. Who or what would be your ideal client or project?

My ideal client would be someone at the beginning of their journey; a business start-up or new charity brimming with energy and creativity looking to do something that will make a difference to others. I really value the opportunity to help grow and support clients through a range of strategic initiatives, helping to develop individuals and organisations.

5.  What are your favourite things to do outside working with Holybrook?

Alongside my work at Holybrook, I coach individuals privately and really enjoy working with clients to enable them to move forward from where they are now to where they want to be. I also enjoy swimming, Pilates, singing and being creative.

We’re running a short series of interviews about our team members to help you get to know us better.  Here is more about Nicky Gentle

_MG_83231. What do you do?

I am a bookkeeper and provide accounts support. I specialise in Quickbooks both online and desk top. I work with a number of limited companies and provide either a fullbookkeeping service or as a back office support, reconciling their accounts.

2. Why are you a Holy Brook Associate

I am a HB Associate because it provides a team environment, support, challenges and accountability. We have fun too!

3. What do you like most about working/living in and around Reading?

I love Reading. I was born and raised here and its my home. I am lucky enough to have been able to buy a home here and I am proud that my business is here. There’s a fantastic business community and  there’s always someone to support or refer someone who can help. Other parts of the country are easy to reach too from Reading for a getaway.

4. Who or what would be your ideal client or project?

Ideal project is a new company wanting to do things right from the start with bookkeeping, needing a little support and advice as well as bookkeeping. Someone looking to grow, someone who is organised and proactive with their accounts, and replies to emails

5.  What are your favourite things to do outside working with Holy Brook?

Away from HB I like the gym, dog walking and occasionally horse riding. I have a young nephew who I adore spending time with!


We’re running a short series of interviews about our team members to help you get to know us better.  Here is more about  Aminah Faisal

_MG_82991. What do you do?

I am an Assistant bookkeeper at Holy Brook Associates, with a long term goal of being a fully qualified chartered accountant.

2. Why are you a Holy Brook Associate?

As in any job, the people that you work with is very important. At Holy Brook, I value the fact that we have very high values and carry across this to the clients we work with. We also have a very diverse team in terms of technical backgrounds, being able to work with such people allows me to pick up knowledge in different areas.

3. What do you like most about working/living in and around Reading?

Living in Reading allows the contrast between being in almost a city environment, with everything that you need and being able to drive 15 minutes outside of the centre to the countryside.

4. Who or what would be your ideal client or project?

I really enjoy problem solving and coming across challenges.

5.  What are your favourite things to do outside working with Holy Brook?

In my spare time, I enjoy listening to music and watching movies. My hobby that I am passionate about is painting landscapes, I aspire in the future to open my own gallery. I also enjoy reading classic and contemporary literature



What does being an ethical business mean? In the modern day, the word ‘ethics’ is thrown around constantly. An ethical business can be defined as one that behaves with morals and acts in the best interests of its stakeholders. However, the question poses, does social corporate responsibility have to be compromised to maximise profits?

Business ethics is something that is very important to us. Here at HolyBrook, we consider ethics every day and make it part of who we are. We pride ourselves in upholding strong ethics and values. For example, when taking on a new client, we will research the client and their values and compare them with our own, if there is significant disparity between the two, we will consider declining an engagement. (you can read more about our values here)

To maximise profits, some believe that a business must cut costs and increase sales. Mathematically, reducing your outgoings and increasing your income will be correct, but this is a very short-term way of thinking. By only focusing on maximising your profits, this will have a ripple effect on all your stakeholders. Businesses trying to maximise profits may pay the minimum amount to employees, which benefits them financially, but by doing so, employees may not feel valued, so may not work as efficiently, and productivity will be lower. By prioritising profits, staff levels will be kept at a minimum, and those working may feel overwhelmed by the amount of work that they have, this can create a low morale and increase in sickness days, which can potentially cost the business more than extra staffing costs would. Monopolies often exploit suppliers by pressuring them into paying a very little amount for their products and then selling them in their stores at significantly higher mark-up prices by threatening to buy from another supplier. Although, it does decrease outgoings, it creates bad business relationships and can damage your reputation.

However, when businesses operate with a focus of corporate social responsibility they are focused on long-term goals opposed to short-term goals. Rather than being concerned about the sales and profits, they are more concerned about the happiness and welfare of their employees and such the impact upon the stakeholders. Taking this stance over profits will indeed be more expensive in the short-term but have long-term benefits, by taking on clients that share the same values will improve your reputation and have a positive impact on the way your company is run. As a manager, it is important to show this throughout your practice too, as a standard is set by you which follows down the chain of command.

Therefore, there is no trade-off between ethics and profits, it is only one that is perceived. When businesses trade in an ethical manner, the profits and the benefits of this soon follow.