Andrew MacDonell is an Associate with BDO New Zealand’s Business Advisory team in Wellington. He details a day in the life of a busy accountant with BDO.
Day starts at 6:25am
My eyes open at 6.25am, five minutes before my alarm. I have a breakfast meeting from 7.30am in town, a board meeting which kicks off from 5.00pm, a ton of reminders to catch up on, a staff meeting, and somehow a personal training session to fit in. There goes my alarm, time to move.
My first client plays in a niche IT services space. I reviewed last quarter’s KPIs yesterday afternoon — revenue growth gets a tick, but profit is not where it should be. Looking further, his team are working harder for each additional dollar. They love to please their clients, which means they rarely say no. They now have a situation where they have more work than they can currently service. Good for growth, but if we don’t manage it right, it’s a case of more headaches without more profit.
I get to the café and my client is already there and working off his phone. He just landed another key client, and after catching up on family and the Wellington Phoenix, we dig in. We work through the actual vs budget KPIs from CrunchBoards (this tool lets us forecast out to a year end position so we know his 31 March (year-end) tax position in December). We link the profit issue back to a few causes including use of fixed rate contractors on ad-hoc jobs and senior staff on junior roles due to scheduling constraints.
My client now has an actionable list of key areas to address. I leave knowing I’ve added value. It will be interesting to see how things have progressed when we catch up in two months’ time.
At the BDO office
It’s 9.45 am now, time to get to the office and review my schedule. My phone rings, it’s one of my construction clients who has just taken the business over from their parents. They are doing a great job of the steering the ship. Their customer base is very well managed and they love putting their energy into planning and delivering on their pipeline of work. Accounting, however, is something they love having someone else manage for them. Part of the deal is free phone calls. It’s too important to get continual communication at this stage to have them thinking twice over accounting fees for phone calls.
We discuss cash flow and when and how they can pull some cash out of the business. This is easy over the phone with the Xero dashboard. Stoked to know they are getting the concept of ‘lock up’ — the time from job completion through to paying suppliers, staff, getting paid by the customer to finally getting the rewards of profits paid out in cash.
Next up is a staff meeting. Brainstorming on internal processes as we on-board a bunch of our clients to Trustworks, which is software product that facilitates trust compliance, management and collaboration of parties. Our team have come up with some stellar suggestions on how to improve this. Great to see our graduates getting their heads around family Trusts, the importance of Trust roles and regular Trustee duties. Even better to see more of our records being digitised and accessible in the cloud.
The afternoon brings board meeting and more clients
After a gym session and some lunch it’s time to prep for my advisory board meeting this evening for a professional services client. One of my team has already prepared the KPIs and forecast reports for me to review. This is a great example of a well-run business. Continual growth, very well managed with two owners setting an outstanding culture in their company. They are tracking well against what has been a pretty aggressive budget. There’s too much cash being held in the business, I have a chat with my team member and we draft up some paperwork to declare a dividend to the shareholders.
Reviewing last meeting’s agenda, this client was looking at acquiring a smaller competitor. I haven’t heard any developments so I will follow-up on any progress here. The owners are also very well connected, I want to get their take on the Wellington business environment as they’ve clearly capitalised on the growth.
Next I catch up with a potential business referral. One of our clients has been kind enough to introduce me to a contact of his. Excellent session and I love the passion in this prospect. Husband and wife duo that have built up a business from their home and now have some commercial space, six staff and are thinking about the next step. They need advice on how to plan and get their house in order to take advantage and minimise the risks of growth. Always rewarding to be able to engage at this stage of the journey. We exchange cards and I need to get a proposal out to them, ideally this week.
The day doesn’t end at 5pm
The board meeting goes well. We address their operational issues, discuss the impact of current health & safety legislation and review their pipeline of work. They need to find some extra opportunities three months out to keep in line with budget. But otherwise, they are doing excellent in what they confirm is the best market they have seen since pre-GFC.
It’s about 7.00pm by the time we finish and we are invited out to dinner. We catch up on family and travel plans and that first beer goes down a treat. I find out one of their sons is in two minds around a property and needs some advice around the bright line test rules — an email and subsequent coffee I will need to sort tomorrow. The conversation now flows to best dining experiences abroad, our new Wellington Mayor and what Uber will look like in five years’ time as a very decent bottle of Hawke’s Bay Chard is opened…
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