Posted: 11/01/2024

Two members of a Blackburn networking group have launched a new accountancy firm after developing a strong professional relationship through their long-term membership of referral marketing organisation, BNI.

Southerns Accountancy has been launched exactly nine years to the month after Jackie Fisher and Neil Cronin first met as founder members of BNI Infinity, which currently meets every Friday at the Hampton by Hilton, Blackburn.

Neil is managing director & senior solicitor at Southerns Solicitors, one of Lancashire’s oldest established firms, providing legal services to the people and businesses of Lancashire since 1792. When they first met, Jackie was a partner at PM+M, a role from which she retired in 2022, later joining Southerns Solicitors as financial director before launching the new firm with Neil.

BNI is the world’s leading business referral organisation, with over 300,000 members in 77 countries. It provides weekly networking meetings for groups of businesses, who follow a structured meeting agenda that enables them to use their combined network of contacts to find business opportunities and referrals for one another.

Last year, its members in towns and cities across the UK & Ireland shared over half a billion pounds (£538m) of business between one-another. Its chapters in Lancashire generated over £12m in business for members in the same period.

Neil said: “The difference between BNI and standard networking is how it is based on the development of deep relationships with fellow strong-minded individuals, rather than the, perhaps, more shallow relationships that come from turning up occasionally at different events.

“It’s that commitment to turning up weekly that leads to the know, like and trust factor that is required to do serious business together. While that usually takes the form of members providing referrals for one-another to their own valued contacts and connections outside the room, our case has shown it can build up the level of trust required actually to launch a new business together.”

Jackie said: “After retiring from PM+M due to family commitments, it was only through my deep relationship with Neil – developed through all the early mornings at BNI – that I knew he was someone I could 100 percent work with to launch an entirely new accountancy offering.

“Southern Accountancy has over 35 years of experience working with SMEs in a wide range of professions and industries. Our ethos is built on an appreciation that every business is unique, and we take time to build relationships with our clients and understand their needs.

“Similar to the feeling you get from BNI, I’m proud that the firm Neil and I have launched has that ‘family feel.’ It’s about building relationships. We work best with clients who want to be listened to by a credible, reliable, and experienced advisor who can help them to achieve their goals.”

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