Accountancy services

If you’re looking for a typical accountant, you won’t find one here at Optimum. Because we’re not typical accountants; we’re accountants who listen to the issues you need help with in your business life, personal life and family life and we match our services to suit your needs. If you run a business, you may need help with developing and growing your enterprise or you may need support with bookkeeping and payroll. Perhaps you want to start a business, sell a business or buy a business. You may need help with self-assessment, tax planning or VAT. From our Swindon and Cheltenham offices, we help clients throughout the UK. For a chat about our accountancy services in Swindon and Cheltenham, and how we can help you, please get in touch.

Meet the accountancy team

Michael Blaken

Accounts Director

Michael is Accounts Director, looking after all our clients’ accountancy needs

Michael Blaken

Accounts Director

Michael is Accounts Director, looking after all our clients’ accountancy needs, overseeing the inhouse accountancy team, and Optimum’s own business development.

He began his accountancy career in Gloucestershire and is passionate about helping clients to improve and develop their businesses, with careful accounting.

His spare time is taken up with family activities, but he does get away to play for his local football club, rarely missing matches (he decided not to play on his wedding day and when his son was being born!)

Jon Lacey

Finance Director

Jon is Finance Director and Head of Finance and Administration, whose role invol

Jon Lacey

Finance Director

Jon is Finance Director and Head of Finance and Administration, whose role involves overseeing the ethical and quality standards of our group companies while maintaining a portfolio of corporate clients.

Jon’s career in finance has ranged from setting up a drop-in desk for small businesses to advising on multi-million pound contract negotiations. His passion is working with SMEs to help them achieve their goals.

In his spare time, Jon loves the mental and physical challenge of archery and he once assisted TV celebrity Noel Edmonds with a charity stunt.

Rob Stokes

Director

Rob is Head of Accounts & Audit, helping his clients to grow and meet their

Rob Stokes

Director

Rob is Head of Accounts & Audit, helping his clients to grow and meet their needs, whilst helping to nurture and develop Optimum and its staff.

He has worked in finance for more than 20 years, and provides advisory and compliance services to a range of clients, from sole traders to international businesses and Academy Trusts.

Away from the office, Rob is a rugby enthusiast and plays second row for the Old Cryptians RFC 2V and 3XV team. He is sometimes known as The Tardis given his ability, whilst being 6’ 5”, to appear unexpectedly at people’s sides without them knowing.

Tracey Heath

Practice Director

Tracey is Optimum’s Practice Director, who deals with everything from managing

Tracey Heath

Practice Director

Tracey is Optimum’s Practice Director, who deals with everything from managing our client database to making sure we don’t run out of tea and coffee.

She has worked for most of her career in secretarial and admin roles, although briefly ran a pub with her partner but (in her words) “saw sense” and returned to office work.

In her spare time, she enjoys socialising, cycling, going to the gym (she’s run Swindon Half Marathon more than once) and has recently taken up tap-dancing.

Hannah Matthews

Head of Assurance & Accounts

Hannah’s roles involve collaborating and communicating with audit clients and

Hannah Matthews

Head of Assurance & Accounts

Hannah’s roles involve collaborating and communicating with audit clients and audit staff to deliver the audit plan effectively and efficiently, alongside running a portfolio of clients and ensuring that the team deliver a proactive and timely service to all our clients.

After graduating, Hannah spent time in industry where she worked in revenue protection within a fast paced environment at some of the UK’s largest sporting events. She then transitioned to practice, where she trained as an auditor in a leading Cheltenham based firm.

Hannah loves animals and has ambitions to run a small holding, but for the moment is settling for a vegetable patch, ducks and a cat. She’s ridden motorbikes since she was 12, although these days tends to watch MOTO GP rather than ride. She can also unicycle, including riding a giraffe unicycle where she is 6 ft off the ground – very high up for someone who is only 5ft 1”.

Mandy Gibson

Tax Supervisor

Mandy is our Tax Supervisor, whose responsibility is dealing with our clients’

Mandy Gibson

Tax Supervisor

Mandy is our Tax Supervisor, whose responsibility is dealing with our clients’ personal tax compliance.

Mandy began her career 30 years ago with HMRC, then entered private practice and has worked with a number of local and national top ten firms in Swindon.

In her spare time she loves cooking and taking her Labrador for long walks, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. At Optimum, she sits next to Michelle Hasson (wills and probate) and they are cheerfully known as the death and taxes team!

Tracey Alexander

Accounts Senior

Tracey is Accounts Senior, and her role entails preparing annual accounts for ou

Tracey Alexander

Accounts Senior

Tracey is Accounts Senior, and her role entails preparing annual accounts for our clients, supporting the team, reviewing some of the team’s work and occasional bookkeeping and VAT.

Tracey has spent all her career in accounts, since starting as an office junior in 1997. She is AAT qualified and is working towards her ACCA qualification.

Away from the office, she loves spending time with her family, going to the gym with her son and socialising. Fun fact about Tracey: she was once Carnival Queen for Bodmin, Padstow and Redruth.

Matthew Littler

Accounts Senior

As Accounts Senior, Matthew helps prepare accounts for our clients, along with b

Matthew Littler

Accounts Senior

As Accounts Senior, Matthew helps prepare accounts for our clients, along with bookkeeping and VAT as needed.

He began his career as an accounts apprentice in 2006, is qualified to AAT level and is now working towards his ACCA.

In his spare time he’s tighthead prop for Sheffield Vulcans RUFC, a hobby that started as a way to get fit and shift a few pounds, but is now a real passion. He is also an avid record collector, and has an impressive set of vinyls.

Matthew once won a TV competition you send the answer in for – living proof that it can be done!

Claire Presdee

Bookkeeper

Claire is our Bookkeeper, who is responsible for liaising with clients and proce

Claire Presdee

Bookkeeper

Claire is our Bookkeeper, who is responsible for liaising with clients and processing their records on a monthly or quarterly basis in preparation for yearend accounts or VAT returns.

She has spent most of her career working in accounts, mainly in a private practice with a short spell in industry.

She loves going to the gym, socialising with friends and taking her dog for long walks. She hates planes but ironically is a roller coaster enthusiast.

Cassie Butcher

Bookkeeper

Cassie is responsible for processing client records on a monthly or quarterly ba

Cassie Butcher

Bookkeeper

Cassie is responsible for processing client records on a monthly or quarterly basis in preparation for completing VAT returns and year end accounts.

She began her working life as an engineer in the aerospace industry, but switched careers in 2015 to be closer to home. She had been doing accounts prep and bookkeeping before taking time out to have her two boys, and now works as a part-time bookkeeper for Optimum.

Cassie’s family are very outdoorsy, enjoying walking in the country and often travelling to the Welsh mountains for hiking holidays. They also enjoy geocaching, which provides the perfect excuse to explore places they might otherwise not have visited. Cassie loves puzzles and sewing, and often makes presents for her sons and her family.

Larisa Florea

Bookkeeper

As Bookkeeper, Larisa helps our clients understand their finances and manage the

Larisa Florea

Bookkeeper

As Bookkeeper, Larisa helps our clients understand their finances and manage their cash flow. She ensures financial transactions and financial records and statements are recoded, accurate and up-to-date by using specialised software, including accounting programs and spreadsheets.

Larisa’s first career was as a sales consultant, where she excelled at customer service and engaging with people. Six years ago she moved into finance, where she fell in love with numbers and now likes nothing more than sorting out complicated transactions.

In her spare time, Larisa loves to escape with a good book, or watch documentaries to expand her knowledge of the world.

Something you didn’t know about Larisa: when she was in high school, she used to visit a local television studio to be a part of the audience, looking for a spot where she’d get to be on camera. Funnily enough, she wouldn’t like to be on TV now!

Larissa Hall

Bookkeeper

Larissa helps to organise the day-to-day paperwork for our clients, implementing

Larissa Hall

Bookkeeper

Larissa helps to organise the day-to-day paperwork for our clients, implementing a system to keep their daily, monthly and quarterly accounts.

Larissa began her career in customer services, but quickly moved into finance and studied for her AAT accountancy qualifications. She’s worked in a number of sectors, including banking, law, private client, and construction.

In her spare time, Larissa loves sudoku (she can get lost in them for hours!) and enjoys walking and exploring the countryside around Cheltenham. She also loves catching up with friends and family.
Something you didn’t know about Larissa: when she was 21, she was in the paper with Howard from the Halifax adverts.

Yvette Mortimer-Jones

Bookkeeper

Yvette's role as bookkeeper is to categorise financial data, to enable clear rep

Yvette Mortimer-Jones

Bookkeeper

Yvette's role as bookkeeper is to categorise financial data, to enable clear reporting for our clients.

Yvette worked in administration and business before deciding to go into accountancy. She took an AAT apprenticeship through Swindon College, working in the accounts department in a food packaging business. Once qualified, she moved to accounts with a construction/fit-out company.

In her spare time, Yvette enjoys keeping fit, gardening, and trying to grow veg (so far, she's managed to grow about eight peas!) and she loves spending time with her pet cat and dog. Yvette hails from Saint Helena, the tiny South Atlantic island, where Napoleon was exiled.

Liz Grange

Payroll Manager

As Optimum’s Payroll Manager, Liz oversees all things payroll-related for our

Liz Grange

Payroll Manager

As Optimum’s Payroll Manager, Liz oversees all things payroll-related for our clients and their employees.

Liz joined the team following Optimum’s takeover of Chris Mattos Tax, where she had been since 2014, working closely with local clients on their bookkeeping, VAT, payroll and general record keeping. She has also worked at a tax software company and with a tax training consultant, all of which gives her a broad knowledge across the tax sector.

An avid runner, most days you can find Liz pounding the pavements near her home, pushing a running pram with her two little boys in tow. At weekends, she’s taken to adventuring through the mud and hills and one day hopes to train for an ultramarathon. A big Harry Potter fan, Liz even has a tattoo of Hogwarts Castle!

Carol Conway

Payroll Clerk

Carol is responsible for processing payroll and pensions on behalf of our client

Carol Conway

Payroll Clerk

Carol is responsible for processing payroll and pensions on behalf of our clients, and dealing with any
arising queries.

A part-qualified accountant, Carol has worked in practice for several years covering bookkeeping,
accounts, payroll and tax returns. She has recently returned to work after a two-year absence to
care for her husband.

In her spare time, Carol enjoys yoga and aromatherapy, and she is looking to train as an
aromatherapist. She is also a talented clarinettist, having played in large concerts in the past, but
much of her time it currently taken up with socialising a new puppy!

Sophia Keogh

Tax Administrator

Sophia is our Tax Administrator. Before joining Optimum, she was a Customer Cons

Sophia Keogh

Tax Administrator

Sophia is our Tax Administrator. Before joining Optimum, she was a Customer Consultant for Nationwide Building Society, working in the call centre and helping members manage their money and accounts. In this role, she was also fraud trained, helping customers ensure that their accounts were secure and safe.

Sophia is very outdoorsy – she loves walking her dogs – and enjoys travelling. She’s also a puzzle enthusiast, with random puzzles in every room of her house. Sophia has a pet bearded dragon named Bruno (she doesn’t walk him!) and is a massive Disney fan.

Callum Morton

Accounts and Audit Trainee

Callum has joined the Optimum team as Accounts and Audit Trainee, and is learnin

Callum Morton

Accounts and Audit Trainee

Callum has joined the Optimum team as Accounts and Audit Trainee, and is learning how to prepare and audit financial statements for our clients.

Before joining our team he worked in customer service and retail roles, but finds he much prefers an office environment.

In his spare time, Callum enjoys playing and watching football and he loves listening to music. He also records a podcast with his friends called ‘Okay, But’, where they like to talk about random and (as Callum admits) strange topics!

Zach Bunce

Accounts and Audit Trainee

Zach has joined the Optimum team as Accounts and Audit Trainee, and is learning

Zach Bunce

Accounts and Audit Trainee

Zach has joined the Optimum team as Accounts and Audit Trainee, and is learning how to prepare and audit financial statements for our clients.

Zach began his working life as a barista before moving into financial services and wealth management. He’d always wanted to get into accountancy, and was delighted to have the opportunity to train with Optimum.

Away from the office, Zach is a big football and rugby fan, and an ardent Swindon Town FC supporter. Fun fact you didn’t know about Zach: he can wiggle his eyebrows, nose and ears!

Clair Stenning

Office Manager

Clair is our super-efficient office manager, who helps run a tight ship for the

Clair Stenning

Office Manager

Clair is our super-efficient office manager, who helps run a tight ship for the Optimum team. Her career spans administration and office management, and she also has a background in quality management, ISO certification and compliance.

In her spare time, Clair teaches and coaches swimming, and sometimes gets in the water herself! She also enjoys crafting and gardening, but says the results of both can be a little hit and miss.

Tracey Cacchio

Receptionist

Tracey’s role is to offer a warm welcome to visitors to our Swindon office, an

Tracey Cacchio

Receptionist

Tracey’s role is to offer a warm welcome to visitors to our Swindon office, and answering and directing incoming calls.

Much of Tracey’s career has been in customer service, but her last two roles have been as a receptionist, which she thoroughly enjoys because she likes meeting new people.

In her spare time, Tracey likes nothing more than spending time with the family, eating out and taking holidays.

Tracey’s motto: life is a party to be had!

Debbie Carter

Receptionist

Debbie is one of our two receptionists, giving visitors to our Swindon office a

Debbie Carter

Receptionist

Debbie is one of our two receptionists, giving visitors to our Swindon office a warm welcome, as well as answering and directing incoming calls.

Debbie has a 30 year career as a secretary/PA in the oil and gas industry, but prior to joining Optimum worked in a family-run farm shop, which involved lots of chatting to customers!

In her spare time, Debbie loves gardening, which she finds very relaxing and rewarding (if the pests don’t ruin her hard work). She also enjoys cooking and socialising with friends.

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