I always enjoy looking back at the end of a year to see how far we’ve come in 12 short months. This year there’s an enormous amount to look back on, with new business ventures launched, new milestones reached and growth on all sides. It’s so important to keep track of your progress - not just as a measure of success, but also to help you stay true to the goals and dreams you had starting out.

2018 was a big year for RIFT in so many ways. One of our proudest achievements, though, has to be reaching Silver status in the Armed Forces Covenant. We’ve worked really hard for this, and it’s something we genuinely believe in. We work with so many people who’ve literally put their lives on the line to defend ours – and we’re doing all we can to honour their sacrifices, both in the services we provide them and by championing their cause in business and society. Our new Military Engagement events are in full swing now, reaching out to and forging stronger links with the military community. Meanwhile, our partnership with ABF the Soldiers’ Charity is pushing even harder to support former and serving Armed Forces personnel and their families in need.

Our Refer a Friend scheme is reaching new heights, with happy customers helping to put around £6 million back in the pockets of friends, family and workmates. Over £159,000 in referral awards have been given out through the scheme, which is now the number 1 way that people first hear about RIFT. With 87% of those people discovering that they’re owed tax refunds, that makes 3,082 people who’ve received an unexpected tax rebate because their friends or families were looking out for them in 2018. Our top referrer alone made himself a stunning £3,250 in Refer a Friend awards this year – putting his workmates in line for £80,000 in refund cash. On top of that, our Refer a Friend prize draws have handed over £10,000 in prizes – and we’re just getting started!

One of 2018’s major highlights has to be the launch of RIFT Social Enterprises, our new not-for-profit business that’s putting former offenders on the path to sustainable employment. Through workshops, practical guidance and good, old-fashioned tax refunds, we’re working to break the cycle of re-offending that traps so many people in a destructive downward spiral and keeps them locked out of real work opportunities. This is something we’re extremely passionate about at RIFT, so the strong start and intense interest RSE has seen has been incredibly gratifying. Damian Green’s visit to the RIFT offices was extremely encouraging, and helped to underline the importance of what we’re working to accomplish.

With over £33,000 in tax refunded through RIFT to date over 10 years, Mark Pearce is one of our very longest-standing customers. A real expert in the building trade, it was a great pleasure for us to hear directly from Mark when our representative Ian Moss visited him on-site in October. Mark fully understands the importance of expertise, and it’s a privilege to continue to tackle the taxman on his behalf.

As a long-time supporter of the Kent Excellence in Business Awards, it was a great honour for RIFT MD Bradley Post to act as a judge for their 2018 presentations. Over the years, RIFT has attended the KEiBAs as award-winner, sponsor and now judge, and it’s always inspirational to see the business community of Kent continue to flourish and grow.

Speaking of growth, RIFT Accounting has seen a tremendous year, attracting more and bigger clients than ever before. As a comprehensive accounting service, RIFT Accounting was built from the ground up to help fledgling businesses take flight. As it develops, we’re keeping a tight focus on that initial vision - ensuring that however much we grow, we’ll still offer the same in-depth, personal service we always have.

Overall, RIFT has maintained a superb customer satisfaction score, keeping pace with household names renowned for exceptional customer service such as John Lewis and the mighty Amazon. We’re going to keep pushing forward with the same energy and dedication to outstanding service, to delight our customers even more in future.

Speaking of the future, 2019 will mark the 20th birthday of RIFT! We’re already looking ahead to the celebrations, but for now allow me simply to wish you the very merriest of Christmases - and an extremely prosperous New Year!