Despite coming from a long line of independent, entrepreneurial women, it took a global pandemic, lock down and an inflexible employer to propel Anne Collins MICB PM.Dip and Lisa Pirie MICB to set up their own bookkeeping business Acey Bookkeeping. But you should hear what happened when they did.

Mother (Anne) and daughter (Lisa) worked together for some time in the hospitality industry. Lisa became a dependable finance assistant to Anne’s Financial Controller in a series of large London hotelsWhen covid struck, the hospitality industry was hit harder than most. But they retreated to their family farmhouse in Kent, and within three weeks had switched the entire finance and payroll function from paper to digital. The duo managed to keep the entire hotel operating during those long months of lock down – often working seven days a week.  

It was after the world returned to ‘normal’ that both Anne and Lisa realised how much flexible working at home had made a difference to their lives. When their requests for hybrid working were turned down, they started to look for another way of doing things.  

Anne takes up the story: 

We knew we had so much to giveBeing in hospitality, you’re very caring about everyone. When I first found ICB I thought WOW a dedicated place just for bookkeepers!Anthony from the ICB team was so helpful - no question was too much for himHe was reassuring and welcoming - he gave us the service that we like giving to our customers. We knew immediately that we wanted to be part of an organisation like that. I didn’t want to join a large association where you’re just one of many. We wanted to be somewhere we mattered. 

Becoming ICB members via exemption 

Both Lisa and Anne were able to become ICB members via the exemptions route. It is a rigorous process requiring background checks, documented experience, references and passing an entrance exam. It isdesigned to recognise previous work and qualifications, and to ensure experience matches the high standards of the ICB syllabus.  

Having both attained membership, they applied for a Practice Licence and Acey Bookkeeping was born. Having worked alongside each other before, Anne and Lisa knew they could trust each other. And they both have different strengths that complement each other. “My background is forensic fraud investigations – so I'm used to unravelling complex accounts. I tend to sort out the issues then hand them over to Lisa who is the expert in customer service."

Find out more about joining ICB via the exemptions route: https://www.bookkeepers.org.uk/Membership/Exemption-Route

Service comes first 

Starting from fresh, they were very clearabout one thing – service came first. Lisa manages most of the relationships. “Our background in hospitality permeates everything we do – and we’re really focussed on looking after our clients. We're part of their team and they know they can pick up the phone and ask us anything.” 

The practice grew relatively quickly, with new clients coming on board largely due to Lisa’s natural flare for networking. 

“We tend to get local businesses that don’t know how to manage their finances or just don't want to – they all want the reassurance that everything is being done properly. From solo buisiness through to £3.7m turnover companies we offer daily, weekly and monthly bookkeeping dependent on their individual needs.” 

More than your average bookkeeper 

The Acey team certainly go above and beyond standard bookkeeping. When delivering Accounts, Anne records videos via Loom which explains the work, what the numbers mean and suggesting actions. It’s a functional way of delivering advisory services. This is really appreciated by their clients. “We’re really part of their business. One said 'I sleep easier now I know you’re working with my business'”. 

Now their pricing models is catching up to their value-added services. “We’re moving away from price per hour to monthly pricing to incorporate the additional level of service we give our customers.” 

Part of the ICB Family 

Both Anne and Lisa appreciate being part of ICB. “We feel very supported. And use all the resources. The VAT team in particular are lovely and so knowledgeable. We know ICB has our back.  

The ICB Practice Licence has pride of place in their office – alongside their membership certificates. It’s a daily reminder: We did it. No one else paid for it or helps us. It speaks volumes that we are recognised by an official body and gives people confidence in our services."  


Family First 

Running their own practice has enabled Anne and Lisa to put their family first. Lisa can work around her young children rather than wasting time commuting, and they are both able to provide support for other family members who live close by. Entrepreneurism is obviously in the family, Anne’s other daughter runs a beauty business along as do cousins and Uncles. All providing inspiration – and a steady stream of business. 


Acey Bookkeeping was awarded ‘New Practice of the Year’ at the 2023 ICB LUCA Awards.