This week catch up with Chris Panayi, Senior Partner at Hentons, a longtime MMF Associate Member.
Henton’s have a highly experienced team of industry specialists with great passion for what they do. They provide business management and accounting services to a wide spectrum of music, sports and entertainment businesses with focus on personalised service that is tailored to the individual needs of their clients.
My name is Chris Panayi and since October 1980, I have been operating my own accountancy firm that has always traded within the music and entertainment industry.
The business commenced at the time that I was fortunate to meet Barrie and Jenny Marshall of Marshall Arts through my very good friend Doris Porterfield. Barrie gave me the opportunity to look after his companies, Marshall Arts and Concert Sound. At the same time as meeting Barrie, I was also working with a bass player who was in a band called “Way of the West”. The band had just signed to Phonogram and suddenly, I had a signed band, international concert promoter and international PA hire company as clients. I grabbed the opportunity with both hands, and as the saying goes, and the rest is history.
I actually celebrated our 40th anniversary on 9th October.
In 2018, I decided that it was time to develop C. C. Panayi & Co in to a bigger and broader service organisation and we joined Hentons. Hentons is a traditional general practice in Leeds. We found that Hentons shared our values, ethos and client care ethic. The transition from CCP to Hentons has been extremely smooth, seamless and very successful. I have always considered our role as to be one that supports the client and that of the manager. We are a team that together with the manager and lawyer, augments the needs of the artist. This is something that has been developed over many years and enabled our firm to become very successful in its operation as business managers and accountants.
Britain is extremely fortunate to have some incredibly talented musicians and artistes and the music that is emanating from them is astonishing.
From our client point of view, Emeli Sande has been releasing some awesome music recently and she has a great song that came out on 22nd October, together with Nana Rogues and Stonebwoy, “More of You” that I seem to be listening to rather a lot.
Mabel has been with us for over 6 years and I just love her song writing and the tone of her voice. I am so excited by her music.
Katie Melua has just released a truly beautiful album that I have been playing a great deal.
Headie 1 is a great song writer and rapper. Headie is really is going to become even more successful than he already is. His number 1 album will stay in the top 5 for a long time. Although, “What Kinda Music” has been out for a while, Tom Misch is another artist whose music I love to listen to especially when I am relaxing at home.
Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” has been a favourite of mine for 49 years. I think that the Sentiment of the album is as relevant now as it was on the day of its release. Just goes to show that technology may have developed but we are still dealing with the same problems for over half a century!
I love to listen to all genres of music from pop to opera and in fact music is on in our home for most of each day.
I mentioned above that I have been running my business for 40 years and I can say without fear of contradiction that 2020 has been a year like no other.
We had been tracking the progress of Corona Virus from the beginning of the year and we became aware of the seriousness of the pandemic when it hit Italy and Spain. We had contingencies planned in the event that the virus hit our shores and the Hentons organisational machine kicked in extremely early. In 2019, we made a significant investment in IT which paid huge dividends from day one. All our systems were activate and fully operational from the first day of lockdown and all partners and staff from each of our offices in London, Leeds, Sheffield, Thirsk and York were able to start work from their respective homes as if they were in their offices.
The significant challenges to the London office, is that we are very much a relationship style of trading, in that we like seeing our clients and they like meeting with us. Zoom, Teams and all the other visual conference platforms have made our working lives easier but they still lack the soul of actual meeting in person with our clients.
The other challenges are that no one knows when this is going to end, when touring will resume and clients can return to previous financial normalities. Financial planning is very difficult which has created extreme hardship especially with crew and young artists. We also find that it is essential to keep staff motivated and we are pleased that we have been able to keep them engaged and enthused.
Like everyone else, we have had to adapt the way that we operate so that we can maintain the same high levels of efficiency and professionalism. We have been able to achieve that because technology and communications have been key factors to our operations. We were fortunate that we had been planning off-site working for some time before the pandemic made that compulsory and we were in an advance position to adapt very quickly to the new trading demands.
We have had some incredible gains of new business throughout the lock down period and we are looking to build on this especially as we have developed new relationships with influencers within the entertainment industry.
Thankfully, the Spinal Tap style of management is fast fading away. There are some incredible young managers who fully understand the power that can be achieved by teamwork and their artists have gained the benefits from that ethos.
By developing the right team of accountants/business managers, lawyers and PR companies around the artist, they can enhance and expedite the artist’s growth. I marvel at their sheer work rate, attention to detail, full understanding of technology, use of social media platforms and how all these factors can accelerate their artists careers and all done with calm professionalism.
Team work with managers, artists and other professionals has always been a major tool and factor in the successful development of C C Panayi and latterly, the transition in to Hentons. We recognise that we need to support each manager in their ambitions for their clients and be proactive in the provision of our services and advice. The long term associations we have with clients and their teams would suggest that we are heading in the right direction.
We are very fortunate to work with very talented managers who are truly doing brilliant work for their artists. It would be inappropriate to name names because we have a strong bond with our clients, their managers and professional advisers. We work hard to maintain and further develop those relationships.
Our country has previously faced difficult times, I agree that they were not as challenging as our current predicament, that have tested the financial core of our society and we have eventually come through them. People during adversity look towards entertainment to help them lift the spirits of our communities and as such, music has always been at the forefront of the spiritual recovery.
I hope that all divisions that make up the music industry have the appetite to start planning from now on how they will deal with the eventual opening of venues and festival sites. The public are desperate to embrace any type of normality and want to be entertained.
At Hentons, we have already started planning for when our society is allowed to open-up again. We are busy on improving our organisation and systems to adapt to the industry’s future requirements.
We are always happy to speak with managers and their artists about our organisation, how our Business Management division operates, how our International Tour Accounting department works across all countries, the functions of all areas of statutory accounting, domestic and international tax sections. We are proud of our history but we are planning and are ready for the new future.
Thank you Chris and Hentons for supporting the MMF and our membership through our Associates programme.
You can email Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org