Johnston Carmichael – A Sharp Mind



From humble beginnings in Elgin in 1936, Johnston Carmichael has gone on to become the largest independent chartered accountancy in Scotland today with 11 offices throughout the country. The company only expanded into the central belt in the last 15 years and Corporate Finance Director Lyn Calder is based in the Glasgow office, which opened in 2003. Before joining Johnston Carmichael in 2012, Chartered Accountant (CA) Lyn had a varied career.

Despite being from a background with no clear links to the finance world, Lyn was drawn to corporate finance early on in life. After obtaining a first class honours degree in Economics from the University of Strathclyde, Lyn studied with the Institute of Chartered Accountants Scotland (ICAS) to become a qualified CA – despite never having studied accounts before starting her training contract.

“I was always interested in working with numbers, and also in studying business growth. The psychology behind the decisions people and businesses make to grow has always fascinated me, and still does to this day.”

On leaving university, Lyn was offered a rare opportunity with Arthur Andersen. “CA trainees normally have to select tax or audit when undertaking their 3 years training, but I was fortunate in that I had the chance to work in corporate finance for most of this time. This gave me a great grounding in the industry.”

Lyn moved into the world of banking in 2003, where her role involved helping clients to fund acquisitions rather than advising on them, putting her on the opposite side of the table from where she finds herself now. Though she has fond memories of her time there, a move into middle management and people leadership took her away from regular interaction with customers. “Latterly, I had a couple of leaderships roles in commercial banking which took me away from regular customer interaction, and I really feed off interacting with lots of different people on a daily basis.”

During her time in banking, Lyn started a family and that influenced the way she thought about life and her career. “Having a family has helped to drive my work and vice versa. I’ve always been passionate about corporate finance and helping clients to realise their goals, so I’ve never had problems motivating myself. But since having my children I’ve been pushed on to do as well as possible in my career to not only provide for them but to be the best role model I can be for them too.”

Following maternity leave, Lyn returned to work four days a week. “Even though I’m only in the office Tuesday to Friday, I’m always available for clients. It comes with the territory for my role.”

Since Lyn joined Johnston Carmichael, the team has gone from strength to strength. This was capped off last year when they were named Corporate Finance Team of the Year at the British Accountancy Awards. The award was a pleasant surprise, though Lyn believes it was testament to the abilities of her colleagues and was a real team effort.

“Winning that award was really quite something as we were in esteemed company with the other accountancy firms nominated. The prize was a satisfying way to sign off on a year in which the team was involved in 47 deals with a total value greater than £460m.”

“From a bigger perspective, the mix of experiences I’ve had has really helped both me, and hopefully Johnston Carmichael’s clients too. With my banking background, the people I work beside can come to me for advice when their dealing with banks. Having worked for both a bank and in accountancy, I hope I bring a unique view to things.”

The idea that Lyn is a trusted adviser amongst her colleagues and clients personifies the values of Johnston Carmichael. As well as helping over 13,000 businesses with their accounting, the company, prides itself on providing a personal service and offering sound guidance to clients.

Lyn said: “Client interaction is one of the most enjoyable aspects of my job. I thrive on regularly being in touch with people and I do a lot of networking as a result of this. Getting out and meeting people is also important in developing our business and it’s one of the ways we’ve raised the visibility of our corporate finance team.”

“I’ve never shirked from a challenge or looked to take the easy route in my life. From going into chartered accounting from economics and moving between banking and corporate finance, I’ve always been willing to take a risk and throw myself into the unknown. I think it’s important that people aren’t afraid to take chances with their careers, and that most people respect anyone bold enough to do it.”

” I’ve always been passionate about corporate finance and helping clients to realise their goals, so I’ve never had problems motivating myself.”