What Value are you getting from your Accountant

Interview with
Andrew More
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What Value are you getting from your Accountant

In this episode, Craig speaks with Andrew More, Owner and Managing Director of More CA, a chartered accountancy firm.  Andrew has set out to add value to his services by not just helping his clients with compliance but also offering them real world advice, assistance, and guidance. 

When asked about the kinds of problems Andrew helps his clients with, he explains that his practice puts an emphasis on the ethos of collaboration.  This involves brainstorming with his clients to solve issues and problems they are faced with.  They work with technology to facilitate processes and ensure accuracy in the figures, along with other specialists to help improve their clients’ businesses.

Unlike the run-of-the-mill accounting firms most business people see once or twice a year, Andrew is more hands on.  He engages with his clients on a more regular basis and encourages them to ask questions no matter how simple they may seem.

 Andrew has had to differentiate More CA from the rest of the traditional accounting firms by adding more value to his clients.  One way More CA has done that was by educating the practice’s clients on what they must expect from their accountants.  As he starts to work with his clients, he asks four basic questions such as

  • What is your structure?
  • What are your issues?
  • How do we contact you?
  • What are your goals?”

 More CA’s purpose in asking the clients what their goals are is to determine whether their personal goals and business goals are in alignment.  Once they understand what their client’s goals are, they can advise them on the manner of which will be relevant to helping them achieve their goals.

When asked about what he enjoys about being in business, Andrew mentioned that he enjoyed working with his clients.  In his previous job, he knew he could offer them more than what the same old accountancy model offered.

 Andrew feels that he has succeeded in what he has achieved.  However, he says his goals are constantly changing.  These goals push you to be better and not content with who you are.  He reviews his goals about once a year.   His assistant, Claire, holds him accountable for his goals.   Sometimes, his friends and family do the same.  Most of the time, he engages in introspection and what he calls “self-review.”  Bouncing ideas around with a trusted friend or colleague. From these discussions, he is able to get clarity and allows him to identify what to prioritize and what not to prioritize.  It comes back to the Paretos Principle, also known by other monikers such as the Law of the Vital Few, the 80-20 Rule, and the Principle of Factor Sparsity.  Basically, it states that approximately 80% of the effect comes from 20% of the causes.

The one thing Andrew has been able to uphold in his professional demeanour and personality has been developing his empathy.  It’s about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and trying to understand where they are coming from in terms of their matters, issues, accidents, and failures.  This hit home for Andrew because it made him realize that nobody comes into work to do a bad job.  In the same manner, none of the clients are out there to harm you as well.  You cannot be judgmental.  Things need to be taken from their intentions that were made.

Turning his clients into aspirational go getters takes a lot of work as well.  The clients need to understand what their preferences, their approach to risk, whether conservative or moderate, and what they want to achieve.

Andrew’s advice for small business owners in New Zealand is that if your accountant hasn’t asked you what they’re trying to achieve or what your goals are, then you’re not getting your money’s worth and you probably have to look around.  He advises small business owners to work closely with their accountants and allow them to help the business owners achieve their goals.

When asked what the difference was between bookkeepers and accountants, Andrew says it really comes down to the price.  Accountants are now sharing a lot of their business with bookkeepers.  Chartered accountants, however, have more to offer in terms of knowledge, educational background, and experience.  Offering value added services to the clients sets More CA apart from the rest.  When the client needs advice, wants to do anything important, wants to grow, has plans to grow and succeed the business, and the like, he or she would need a chartered accountant.

Mistakes that are regularly made by business owners include budgeting for tax.  Many people don’t do that.  Some businesses have gone under because of their failure to budget for taxes.  Second, business owners need to have goals or connect to something.  These goals need to be written and shared.  This starts that collaborative movement in your business and in life.  It also allows you to achieve or realize something that was totally unreachable.

One way to do this is to collaborate.  Andrew considers that as the key.  With the help of specialists, business owners will be able to focus on what matters to them.

 

www.moreca.co.nz

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TRANSCRIPT

 

ANDREW MORE INTERVIEW

 

WHAT WE NEED TO BE ASKING OUR ACCOUNTANTS

 

Craig Oliver: Welcome everybody!  Craig here from the Project Guys once again. Today, I’m talking to Andrew More, who’s the owner and managing director of More CA. More CA is an accountancy firm. Andrew set out the business and the frustration with the traditional accountancy firm model. He really wanted to be able to partner with his clients and offer a bit of value for their money. So, rather than just doing compliance for his clients, he wanted to be able to offer real world advices, assistance and guidance their financial health to help achieve their goals. So, I’m really excited to have Andrew here as a philosophy on what we should be asking for our accountants and what have them move forward with us with things. So, welcome, Andrew!

Andrew More: Thanks, Craig. Thanks for having me along.

Craig: So, let’s start off. Tell us a little bit of your background, how you got to where you are now… obviously, you’ve got a funny accent, how did that all come from? (laughter) I mean, why did you decide to go into business? Elaborate on that a little bit more.

Andrew: So, I’m not from around here. I’m from Edinburgh, Scotland but I grew up in the family business and my best friend, they were in a family business as well. So, yes..I was influenced by that in an early stage. My education, I attended towards  math and physics and ultimately accountancy.  I tended to have a natural flair for those sorts of things and hey, I love autonomy. I love doing this my own way. So, I think a natural progression to business was where  I was gonna go and when we’re expecting our first child, I decided it was time to risk everything and go out  on my own.  Maybe not best for the partner but it gave me enough time with the family and it let me do things the way I wanted to. So, it was a pretty good move.

Craig: Cool. So, tell us more about your business. What is it you do? What problems are you solving for your clients?

Andrew: Okay, so my firm, More CA,  is substantially a chartered accountancy practice and a small one at that but we have an emphasis on an ethos of collaboration. Now, by collaboration, I simply mean people getting their heads together and solving the issues and problems which are facing the business people. So, we do this and we collaborate with technology to make things easier, make things more accurate, re-collaborate with specialists such as accountants, lawyers, business advisors and all of these sorts of things and we involve ourselves, as specialists in our own wee way and also obviously the business owners because they do a lot of the work and they make their business the best.

We do all the basic compliances.  You’ve mentioned earlier, the kind of financial reporting, the tax returns but our main emphasis, as I said is, collaboration.  So, the problems that we tend to find are quite varied. So for instance, yesterday, I was dealing with a restaurateur, guy owns a quite successful wee restaurant and what he’s come to know is that he’s made such a success of himself. He doesn’t have any time.

Craig: Roger.

Andrew: So, he’s asked us to take all his admin work off him. So, we freed up a lot of his time to progress other projects by helping him out by putting out flexi-time payroll.  He’s doing all this rostering and we’re helping him do that. We’re putting in a lot of add-on apps for zero in order to take care of the necessary paperwork and then we’re doing the book keeping and we packaged it all up into a nice monthly bill that he’s happy with. So, he’s now focusing on what he wants to do. Other areas, other problems, we routinely get around growth.  We help people kind of, work out their plans towards growth, set targets, those sorts of things and work towards them. Some people have succession issues and we try to help them out. Succession is always best dealt with early on.

Craig: Yeah.

Andrew:  You set out what the goals are and work towards that plan.

Craig: So, you’re really getting involved with these businesses. So like, collaboration, partnership…you’re not just an accountant you might see once or twice a year.  It takes time. It’s sort of, understanding your business and working with them to help them achieve what they’re trying to achieve and their little personal goals.  Isn’t it? Like you said.

Andrew: That’s correct.

Craig: It’s a real hand on type philosophy.

Andrew: It’s very much hands on. It’s very much based around engaging with our clients regularly, giving them the confidence to be able to ask those question which they might feel that are silly. So, we’re making them comfortable within themselves and yeah, we appeal to people who have that sort of idea.

Craig: Cool. So obviously, that a different way of thinking about accountancy services, no doubt when you were started off, you  came out of wide-eyed and bushy-tailed and gung-ho about it all. Tell us a bit about of some of the challenges and learnings you’ve had on from the early years right through now, the different challenges, different things that you have learned.

Andrew: Okay, so I think that the major challenge or the major hurdle which I had to overcome as being an outsider in provincial New Zealand and this might sound a bit strange but professional service operators such as  accountants, lawyers tend to be passed on down the family chain like heirlooms.

Craig: Yeah.

Andrew: So, really just getting my foothold in this province and actually appealing to people that I’ve actually got the skills and services that they require has been a challenge. Nowadays, it’s getting people to understand that as a charted accountant, I offer more than the traditional accountants you store from.

Craig: Yes.

Andrew: So when I say traditional accountants, I mean, maybe the big, big firms when they’re dealing with small business have tended to just give their clients a set of accounts, a tax return, a letter and a bill once a year.

Craig: Yup, yup and we’ve been guilty of that.

Andrew: Yeah and that’s not very enjoyable for anyone and there’s very little added value and so we’re trying to step away from that and teach our clients that, that’s not all we do.  That’s very much the first stepping stone of the first foundation stone in regards to actually being involved in helping them get ahead, achieve goals.

Craig: Yeah.

Andrew: We’ve never had that conversation because charted accountants are never offered. They’ve dictated terms and nobody came to step ahead and show that we would have a lot to offer.

Craig: So, I dare say some of the challenges would have been around perhaps,  educating the market place, educating the clients to almost expect  more  and teaching them “This is what you can expect and these are the sort of things you should be asking for or demanding” type of thing, rather than going to an accountant or your lawyer towards a scary time, going down to the dentist at a scary time. It’s actually someone who can help you progress your business

Andrew:   Yeah, so we’ll probably ask her routinely and we have our contact chief that we fill in with our clients and it goes through a whole various kind of,  “What’s your structure?”, “What’s your issues?”, “How do we contact you?” All of these things.

Craig: Cool.

Andrew:  And the major point of it is our goals section. We ask our clients what they’re goals are. If we don’t know their goals, we can’t advise them appropriately. So, if we understand our goals or if they don’t have goals, we’ll help find their goals.

Craig: Yup.

Andrew:   They might not be goals based on business, they might be personal.

Craig: Yup. I’ve always had to look out for that. You got your business and your personal, yeah.

Andrew:   Yeah, at some point they’ve gotta converge. You can’t have personal goals which are tangential from your business goals because then you’re gonna be at a constant state of hating yourself for being in business.

Craig: So, often the business funds the personals

Andrew:   Correct.

Craig: Yeah.

Andrew:   So, everyone’s got goals.  It’s just the case of documenting them and if we can understand their goals then we can advise them on the manner of which will be relevant towards to actually achieving these goals.

Craig: Yeah, cool.  Awesome. So, what do you actually enjoy about being in business? What is it like to expand your wills? What do you enjoy about your business or your industry? What do you base your success at?

Andrew:   Okay, so, what do I enjoy about my business?

Craig: Yeah.

Andrew:   I like doing business my own way.

(laughter)

Andrew:   One of the main things with getting at and going out to business by myself is that I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing for our clients and the firm that I was working for.  We were just giving that same old accountancy model of no added value and I knew we could do so much more. So that’s why I went to business by myself and that’s why I like to plow my own lawn thoroughly as they have warned me against and I’m not trying to be a disruptor. I think I’m naturally disruptive and the fact that I am offering a bit more .Key to my success, I could say that my success is moderate so far.

Craig: C’mon!

Andrew:   And I guess if you, if I still look at where I am now compared to when I’ve first started out, I’d say yes, I’ve succeeded in what I have achieved.  But the thing about goals are, we are constantly changing them.

Craig:  Yup.

Andrew:   So, you look back in it now and you look at yourself now and you probably think, “Oh, I’m only a moderate success because I’ve reassessed my goals.” And I think that’s probably one of the keys, you’ve gotta have goals. If you don’t have goals, you’re probably just gonna plod along, doing things that you may just be content with who you are. Nothing wrong with that.

Craig: No.

Andrew:   But I’m fairly aspirational. So, I set goals and I review them.

Craig: So, how far would you review your goals?

 

Andrew:   I would review them at least once a year and well, I’d reassess myself on it once a year. I think it really comes down to what your goals are and how quickly you need to respond to maybe adverse events. That’s how quickly and how often you review them.  If you got projects and you’ve got a short time scale. You’ve obviously need to review your actual milestones regularly but my goals have been pretty much annually based on two-year, three-year, or  five-year goals. I’ve got milestones placed along the way to six months annually.

Craig: Do you review them yourself or do you bring advisor parties to help you play devil’s advocate or a third party influence or external…do you know what I’m saying? Like, with your clients, do you bring in your professional…

Andrew:   It’s always nice to be held accountable. (laughter) Sometime though, I don’t personally do that. I have done with my assistant, Claire, she knows what my goals are and certainly used some people to bounced ideas off. So, I do use that devil’s advocacy and that could be friends, family and those sorts of things.

Craig: Yup. Yup.

Andrew:   But a lot of the time, I’ve done self-review. I’m searching for doing this for others like I can do it for myself. I write loads of business plans.

Craig: Okay.

Andrew:   I write loads of them with these great ideas I conjure up over Christmas time. (laughter)

Craig: Over Hanukkah

Andrew:   And I review them on the second day and I go “Oh, that’s rubbish.”

Craig: [incomprehensible] One day, there’s going to be a great idea in there and you could be the next great Mark Zuckerberg.

(laughter)

Andrew:   Yeah, you understand it right? You need tough collaborators and for small business people, it’s pretty hard to find collaborators.

Craig: Yes.

Andrew:   So even if it’s your partner, your colleagues, your friends, share your ideas. And hey, if one of them is happy to be a devil’s advocate and maybe just to help you ask those questions that justify your own ideas, hypotheses, your philosophies, just have them justify it.

Craig: And sometimes, it’s just like and all in fairness as well, you have so many ideas in your head, so many businesses plans the clarity as to which you should follow and which ones you should bin.

Andrew:   Yeah, just like your goals.

Craig: Yeah. Yeah.  And I just went through the process myself, last week, I had lots of little projects on the go, not quite sure if  they were gonna amount to anything. So, I had a meeting with someone I trust on Friday,  bounce my ideas around. This was a big mess of brains from this section down, got massive clarity out of it, know which ones to prioritize and which ones are not.  Yeah.

Andrew:   It comes back to that whole paretos principle of that 80-20.

Craig: Yeah.

Andrew:   So, what are you trying to achieve? Figure out your goals? If this project doesn’t actually fit in with your goals, what you’re actually trying to achieve? There’s probably no point of taking it on.

Craig: No.

Andrew:   If you’re wanting to have a lifestyle balance and you take on a project which is gonna consume a hundred hours a week and you’re not gonna do it.

Craig: No.

Andrew:   You’re not gonna achieve it. So, you need someone to go, “Hey, Craig. That’s a massive project, you’re not gonna do this as well as you actually want to.”

Craig: So, work out your genius. Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. So later you might not think yourself as a leader but as a leader in at sort of industry or community, what have you learned personally and professionally, perhaps of yourself in the last few years, being in business for yourself rather than working in the cooperate?

Andrew:   Okay, well.  I guess even working in the corporate world or doing any sort of thing, you know in a business leader, you gotta  have certain things. You gotta have a sort of, systematic process driven. You gotta have some sort of discipline, those sort of things that are pretty much standard. Probably the main thing, I’ve learned, which I’ve tried to uphold in my professional demeanor and personality is empathy.

Craig: Yes.

Andrew:   And really by that I mean, putting yourself in that predicament of the other person and trying to look at matters and issues, accidents and failures from their perspective.  This kind of hit home to me was dealing with the staff in my previous and realizing that nobody comes into work to do a  bad job.

Craig: Yup.

Andrew:   Likewise, none of your clients are out to harm you, none

Craig: None.

(laughter)

Andrew:   Would you say that your clients are the few you deal with that set out] to harm you?

Craig: Yes.

Andrew:   And so, when things do go awry and things do fail and accidents happen, just step into their shoes and understand what their intentions were and more often than not, you’ll find that they’re well-intended and they’re good people. It just wasn’t the right call.  So, I hold hese beliefs and I hold myself to them in a professional manner. Personally, unfortunately, as I take to the football field, my fight club fever comes around and I become a horrible, mouthy center forward. But I… (laughter)

Craig:  There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s where you take your aggression out. So long as you don’t do it with a client.

Andrew:   Yeah, so empathy would be the main thing there.

Craig: Yeah, now that’s a good thing to have there, empathy. Like you said, it’s  often…people having a bad day but it’s been a build-up of all sorts of things. It’s like the straw that breaks the camel’s back in the morning.  It’s totally irrelevant with what you’re doing with them.  But you just, felt it rough for the day.

Andrew:   Yeah. So, when have people have issues as well.

Craig: Yeah.

Andrew:   A lot of people have far greater issues  or hang ups than you will ever have.

Craig: Yes.

Andrew:   So, you’ve gotta  just take time. Don’t be judgmental.

Craig: Yeah. Cool.

Andrew:   Take everything from their intentions that was made.

Craig: Cool. Cool.  So, the majority of the  listeners, listening to this will be small to medium business owners in New Zealand and Australia. In your opinion, what sort of things us, as business owners been asking in and or demand you from our accountant?

Andrew:   Well, I’m guessing that all accountants will be offering the same thing. So…

Craig: Yes, let’s assume that.

Andrew:   …pretty much the traditional model that I was talking about.

 Craig: But that’s the bare minimum though, there’s the expense and the expectation.

Andrew:   That would be the bare minimum but really , it comes down to what you’re trying to achieve. So, if you’re happy and content with what you’re doing and that’s probably all you’ll ever need. And so, maybe you’ll differentiate between providers and price. If you’re looking for something or if you’re aspirational or goal-driven or you have ideas of who you want to be then what you’re really wanting is somebody to be interested ,to show interest, to maybe document with what your interests are, to know what your goals are and ask these questions.

If they haven’t asked you that, then how can they possibly try and give you professional advice which is gonna ba appropriate for you if you don’t know what you want to achieve. So, I’d say if for a small business owner in New Zealand , if your accountant hasn’t asked you what you’re trying to achieve or what your goals are then you’re probably lacking and you probably need to look around.

Craig: Good. Good. That’s good. I haven’t thought of it that way. I thought it was the other way around with the push-demand stuff but like you say, often you don’t know what you don’t know.  At least, they’re asking you their questions and you’re willing to share them as well and then you know you’re on the right track, don’t ya? Yeah.

Andrew: Well, the thing with accountants is that if one character came and had this great amount of knowledge and experience and education. But we’ve tended to use our dispense the advice purely for the bigger corporates, the really big clients who pay huge fees.

Craig: Yes.

Andrew:   And it’s never actually filtered down to small businesses. So, the small business person comes in and they dictated what they’re getting.

Craig: Yes.

Andrew:   The thing that I can’t say is that tax returns, they don’t really get the opportunity to sit down and say, “Hey, Mr. Jack the accountant. You got all this knowledge. Can you get me the benefit of it?” and when the client is sitting right across the table from this old school chartered accountants, dictating terms. They don’t feel comfortable enough to ask those questions. They don’t feel comfortable enough to ask what the previsions is, “What’s provisional tax?”,  “Why are you sending me these bills?”

Craig: It’s an intimidation factor, isn’t it?

Andrew:   It’s an intimidation factor. So, if they could have broken that down over the years and actually given some real value to their clients, we wouldn’t be having this issue that we’re currently having.

Craig: Yeah. Cool. Awesome. So, how often should we be reviewing our accountant’s offerings? Let’s face it, men today, we just walk around, new financial year, is it too late to ask my accountant these question or do I have to wait next year? What should I be doing? Does it matter? 

Andrew: It really doesn’t matter. I would say that with anything, you should review the value in it.  The problem being that a lot the cases we take on or a lot of the clients we take on do have goals or issues. They’re not issues and goals that can be fixed in a silver bullet.  There are some things that might take a year or two to gain the understanding, embed the knowledge, empower the individual to make decisions, understand their goals and to progress.  Let’s say if you’re reviewing once every one or two years then that would be fine.  However, it comes back to the fact that, “Has your accountant ever asked you these questions?” , “What are your goals?”, “What are you trying to  achieve?”, “How can we help you?”

Craig: “Why are they in that business?”

Andrew: If they haven’t asked you that then they aren’t putting the right amount of  effort in. They’re not interested and why would you have a business adviser that wasn’t specifically interested in  what you’re trying to achieve?

Crag: I guess also, it’s very well that they could ask where in your goals you’re at because it’s sort of a new way of thinking. But this is actually following through with taking interest in those goals. It’s easier to say, “Oh, what are your goals in your business?” and then they go “ Oh! I’ve never been asked by that. I don’t really know what I wanna share with you today, Mr. Accountant.” But they need to follow through that. They need to say, “Oh, well. Tell me more about that. How can I help you achieve those?” or “What do you need from me?”  

Andrew: You ask what their goals are, you ask them how they could be most of help so you can follow up and ask people right there who are stuck in that mindset of traditional accounting. 

 Crag: Yup.

Andrew: They still come to us, on price or efficiency or convenience and we  get from that basic compliance but are happy with that  and we wouldn’t change that if that’s what… we’d want to make them some aspirational goal-getter when they don’t want to be so understanding that, understanding what their preferences are, understanding their approach to risk, whether they are really private  or whether they are gambling-oriented, whether they want to take risks or whether they really came to shine retiring. If you know all this, then you can  better meet  their demands, meet their requests and fulfill or satisfy the clients

Crag: Yeah. Cool. Lovin’ that, lovin’ that.  So, maybe we can identify say, maybe  our current accountant is not doing as much as they could be possibly doing but like changing banks, changing lawyers, changing dentists, it’s a pain in the bum. How to change your accountant? I don’t know. That’s perception would be, wouldn’t it? It’s almost as if breaking up with a boyfriend or a girlfriend, ain’t that though?

Andrew: Yeah, man.

Crag: It’s a big move.

Andrew: Unfortunately, text messaging doesn’t work.

(laughter)

Crag: No. No

Andrew: Or not calling her back

Crag: Facebook messenger

Andrew: And you still get the bill for their blah

Crag: Yeah. Yeah.

Andrew: So, it’s always been an issue that we’ve come against as well. We had previously told our clients, “Hey, just give your accountant a call and tell them that you’re moving on” and that courtesy that was shown was never, very rarely, reciprocated by the accountants.

Crag: Yes.

Andrew: Our position nowadays is to leave it to us and provisions within our ethical guide which require new engagements to ratified or disputed and for information to pass within seven days.

Crag: Okay.

Andrew: Most accountants will adhere to that and that’s all that’s required. We do find people, especially in provincial New Zealand have deep seated relationships with their accountant and has  been passed on to them. They’ve had a long standing agreement and they may find that changing and having that conversation’s really kind of awkward, really uncomfortable.

Crag: Yes.

Andrew: So, if they don’t want to do it then that’s where we step in, doing it in a professional manner. If they do still want to do it then they’re perfectly allowed to do so. But they are under not required to justify their decision and it really comes down to “But the accountant was such a good friend.” Then friendships are reciprocal. So, you’re paying them a fee to do a certain service for you and you’ve asked for extra help and they’ve taken their fee on their in their arm, giving you that extra help. What kind of friendship’s that?

Crag: Yes.

Andrew: It’s not your issue, it’s the accountant’s issue and they probably deserved to lose you.

Crag: Yes.

Andrew: We see the same way with our services. We don’t tie people up because we want them to be comfortable enough to say, “Andrew, you’re not doing a good enough job. Stand up and give us our service or we’re gonna cut of our monthly installment of our fee.” 

Crag: Yes.

Andrew: And that will give me moving. Unfortunately, we don’t have that.

Craig: And the consumerist of the client saying, “Oh, I don’t see… I’m struggling to understand the value of what I’m receiving from you.”  And then as the supplier, they  need to justify that or lift the game or or whatever

Andrew: Absolutely, just life their game. As we talked about earlier, transitioning to an accountant, dictating terms…the power is now moving to the consumer.

Crag: Yeah.

Andrew: The subscription-based packaging, the ability to shift between different packaging, different accountants. That’s how it should be.

Crag: Yeah.

Andrew: That should be the flexibility that a small-business owner should demand. So, we are offering it, there’s other people in the market that are offering it and moving between accountants should not be difficult and it doesn’t need to be.

Crag: Yes.

Andrew: We can do that all for you.

Crag: Awesome. So, on the more personal note, now that you’re a big advocate of good work and life balance which is why I guess is one of the reasons why you went into business for yourself.

Andrew: Uh-humm.

Crag: Since you’ve been in the business, you’ve become a father to two.

Andrew: Yes.

Crag: You’re also a husband and now a business man, obviously.

Andrew: Yeah.

Crag: So, how do you manage? How’s your work-life balance going? What’s the tip? What’s the golden nugget about that?

Andrew: Well, I had so many diminished. (laughter) Having no business in the first year was great

Crag: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Andrew: I couldn’t pay the bills then.

 

 

 

Craig: But great for the golf swing.

Andrew: Got two holes in one.

Craig: There you go.!

(laughter)

Andrew: Yeah. Sometimes you gotta fill up some holes in. It is becoming more difficult, my business is growing. I’m very happy with it.

Craig: Yep.

Andrew: What’s demanded is our systematic and process-driven approach and if you invest upfront in these sorts of things then you can actually still achieve it. Technology, we’ve put out on stuff like receipt bank. We’ve got zero-running. We’re doing all these sorts of stuff. We’ve got different portals in our website where our clients can engage with us routinely. They can set up their own meetings and they do everything. We use Skype so our clients don’t have to suffer traffic or parking things. We’re able to get across the country. So, we are working on work-life balance for both us and our clients.

Although our own work-life balance may have diminished since the early days, I still play sports and I still drop my kids of at daycare, I pack them up most days. I’m normally home to make dinner. So, I’ve still achieved it. It’s really just about having a plan, understanding what you’re requirements are ,understanding what your resources are required and working towards your goal.  You can achieve it.

Craig: And I guess, it comes back to reminding yourself as to why you did it in the first place, isn’t it?

Andrew: That’s true.

Craig: I’ve seen too many people start off with having this idea of a good work-life balance but then the work is 60-70 hours a week, forget why you’ve ever done it. Then once again, work in a job. Back to the first job.

Andrew: Correct.

Craig: Obviously, you’ve embraced technology. How has technology changed the industry since you walked out of the University so many years ago.

Andrew: I walked out of University at ’99.

Craig: Oh, there you go.

Andrew: So, it’s been a while…

Craig: 18 years ago.

Andrew: I was looking at this recently, it took me back to my first job. I was working as an auditor at Edinburgh, Scotland and in 2001 and 2002, I was senior auditor on a job in Edinburgh, it was one of our bigger clients. They were manufacturing in home sale, you know one of those paper products, lever arch files, different kinds.

Craig: Yup. Yup.

Andrew: It’s a huge turn over though, but they’re full accounting system was purely manual and I mean hand written. Like, volumes upon volumes, libraries of books, day records and ledgers, trial balances, the works. So, they employed our financial director who’s a chartered accountant on a ridiculous salary and he was doing what we regarded these days as, menial tasks… 

Craig: Right.

Andrew: And taking days over them because that was what was required.

Craig: Yes.

Andrew: So, what you were spending days over can now be done automatically through inventions such as zero…

Craig: Yes.

Andrew: Fantastic new invention and to produce a trail balance report is a click of a button. To balance, to reconcile your bank is probably 20 minutes work in a week.

Craig: Yep.

Andrew: So, we’ve moved from days of work done by a skilled individual to minutes of work done by a layman or somebody in business who has probably never done accountancy papers.

Craig: And has got no interest in it whatsoever.

Andrew: So, we’ve seen a massive shift in technological movement of huge disruption and that has men that are  time-involved has reduced massively and the accuracy of the work that has been prepared or the reported that have been prepared are far more accurate than what was done previously. So that has given, I think this has probably been the basis whereby governments kind of deregulated those.

Craig: Right.

Andrew: Allowing people to do it a lot more  themselves, allowing more bookkeepers in the market at the expense of chartered accountants. So, that’s a real problem for our industry and as chartered accountants but we’re our own worst enemies. We never gave out enough information away, we never engaged enough with small business when they needed it. The traditional accountants just profit those for years.

Craig: So, obviously, technology we know has taken over the world, so to speak. It’s not going away. So what do you think the industry is going the next five to ten years?

Andrew: I personally think it’s probably a bleak future. It will probably take a backwards step for a point, for a certain time.

Craig: Yeah.

Andrew: But in the short term, it would be very beneficial for the consumer because there’s currently  a price war. When you look at the services of a traditional accountant gave compared to what bookkeepers today giving, they are substitutable.

Craig: Yes.

Andrew: So, for their easily substitutable services, because financial statements by one is roughly the same as financial statements of another. You’re just pressing button to create them and it comes down to price. So, people are going towards the cheaper one and the bookkeepers are charging a third or a fifth of the price of a chartered accountant.

Craig: Yes.

Andrew: And they’re just small business people. After all, you have to be very savy when it comes to cost. So that’s what’s happening in the big firms, sharing a lot of business with the bookkeepers.

Craig: Right.

Andrew: The problem with that is, the chartered accountants do have enormous educational backgrounds, huge experience. They have wealth of knowledge which bookkeepers just do not have.

Craig: No.

Andrew: Bookkeepers are very good bookkeepers which I think is a very good business advisers. The problem when it comes to  small businesses is that they’ve never given advice and are probably blah with small business. So, now they’re losing out because they’re substitutable products and book keepers are getting in. So, come to tipping point where people are realizing, “Hey, I could do a lot more for my clients.” like we are.

Craig: Yes.

Andrew: And we’re telling people, “Hey, we’ll give you this advice and we’ll patch it up with the same sort of price as a bookkeeper.”

Craig: Yeah,

Andrew: “And we’ll give it routinely for you.” We’ll engage or we’re going to avenge the end up by the dumbing down of our profession and I think, more likely, we’ll get the dumbing down of the profession first of all be fore anyone can take a stand to exchange things.

Craig: Yes.

Andrew: It tends to be a compromise of convenience, price and quality. Probably, the most evident one of recent time is journalism.

Craig: Right.

Andrew: When was the last time you bought a newspaper? For me, probably a couple of years, maybe more and that’s because I can log into my iPad and I can read the news in the morning and get a gist of what’s going on in the world and never have to go to news and I’m quite happy with what it is.? The photographs are awful, they’re better from an iPhone. There’s no artistic merit. The grammatical and spelling errors are deplorable. These people struggled to get through school and they’ve chosen a profession where they’re writing English. So, we’re seeing them dumbing down as people go for convenience, quality and price. 

Craig: Yup.

Andrew: Over here, we got technology that’s running these reports and could be creating what the accountants used to do and they are accurate and they are, 90% is good, maybe? Maybe just as good in some cases then are easily substitutable. So, it’s easy to see why the consumers are going down that way.

Craig: I guess it comes back down to educating the market place. There’s a bookkeeper who can do your work, your account in just a push of a button. But now we’re gonna educate, you actually need more than that and here are some service providers who offered the value and this is sort of something the account has shifted from being a compliance to adding value to your business. As a key partner to your business, isn’t it?

Andrew: Okay.

Craig: Like you said, transition and re-educating to market place.

Andrew: Bookkeepers are great bookkeepers. If you’re wanting advice, you’re wanting to do anything important, you’re wanting to grow. You want to have plans on how you want to grow and succeed your business and how you sell it and how you value it whether the business you’re buying is actually making sense. You’re going to need a chartered accountant.

Craig: Yes.

Andrew: If you can get that information and you can get that sort of engagement, and that interest from someone then you should take every time because otherwise you’ll be with a bookkeeper and hey, if you’re content just kind of pottering along and doing the things that you want to do, you’ve got a lifestyle that you’re very happy with then a bookkeeper is the way to go.

Craig: Yup.

 

[33:40]

Andrew:  . If you want something more important or you want someone to advise you and collaborate with you and you really need someone who is going to give you that. But not off track the

Craig: There’s gonna be no

Andrew: There’s gonna be a few of those. Try not to get some bad ones. We see ourselves as more of collaborative.

Craig: I guess also, in a way, it’s good that a small business like yourselves and there are other people with the same size as you that can change in a whim. But the corporates can’t have that flexibility. They can’t change overnight, they can’t adapt overnight, can they?

Andrew: We’ve invested the last 6-7 months getting our review of our business up and running. Getting it done, understanding what we’re trying to achieve and reconfiguring our mindset around, “What does our client base want?” and we’ve invested our time and quite significant resource in getting our website up. So, we engaged a portal where people can ask questions, drop information, set up appointments. Engage over us with media and over Skype and all of these sorts of things. So, it’s not so much of a web…but I do agree that bigger firms have, if they wanted to undertake this, they would have a huge made up of systems and process to set up, maybe some staff to lose, maybe staff to be brought on, huge up scaling coming a lot longer.

Craig: Yeah, you got the flexibility to make change and we can see what you’ve just been through yourself in the last 6-7 months. It’s that sort of thing that could potentially help your clients to do the same thing. Nothing happens overnight but you can help walk through that procedure, that exercise because you’ve done it yourself.

Andrew: Yeah, absolutely.

Craig: And if I had a big pocket full of money there to implement these sort of things,  you’d realize that it takes time to implement things, it takes time to redesign our website because that costs money. It doesn’t happen overnight.

Andrew: We’re very happy sharing our thoughts and these things because really, that’s what we do. We give advice and when people are saying , “What portal should we use?” We’ll say, “Well have a look at   blah. It’s been great for us. ”

Craig: “Better stay away from this one because this was a nightmare for us.”

Andrew: Yeah. You’re going to have to pass on this knowledge because that was what we really suppose, we are collaborators. Similarly too, I started my business myself, I started it worth nothing, like 3 climbs(?). I’ve had to build my own business myself. So, if you’re starting a business, why would you go to someone who is fourth generation inheriting a chartered accountancy firm, who’s never started a business? 

Craig: Never been but yeah

Andrew: How can they advise you?

{36:00}

Craig: How could they know the pain of not being able to or pay the groceries that week?  

Andrew: How could they not know what the hurdles are?

Craig: Yes.

Andrew: They might know from a theoretical standpoint but are never gonna know from a practical standpoint because they’ve never done it.

Craig: No. Exactly. Exactly. So, from your experience, what are some of the mistakes that you see business owners are making? And what advice would you give both established and start up small businesses?

Andrew: I guess when we look at the mistakes which are regularly made which was really made to put into effort to emphasize when taking on clients. First one is, budgeting for tax. You’d be surprise how many people don’t. We had businesses go under simply because they don’t budget for tax. But it’s very easy to actually get your mindset the right way that you could actually put money aside and never have that problem.  The other one is you’ve gotta write down goals or connect to something.  Write it down, it’s far more powerful than just keeping it in your head.    

Craig: Do you think that you could share those goals?

Andrew: Absolutely. Sharing your goals, sharing your knowledge, sharing your dreams.

Craig: So, writing them down and sharing them.

Andrew: It’s very important because as I said earlier, it starts that collaborative movement. You feel that you are being held to account by even if you tell your partner. She’ll go, “Oh, how are your goals going?”

Craig: Yes.

Andrew: “How are you actually achieve these?” “When are  you going to achieve this?” Or your friends, share them.  We see it with startup businesses and startup landwith who is next door.

Craig: Yup.

Andrew: And they had a lot of people putting up different ideas and sharing all their knowledge and by doing so, they’re actually moved their businesses forward to their business ideas. If you keep your dreams to yourself then you’ll probably never realize it. If you share them then you might find that  there’s a movement. You might find somebody and they go, “Hey, that was a great idea. Let’s push this forward. I can help you here. I can get someone else to fill the void here and then we’ll move forward. ”

Andrew: So, very true there.

Craig: What’s a good advice would give them about these sorts of things?

Andrew: I would say, write them down. Have a plan. Be mindful that your plan might change. Be mindful that if you set a goal now, in three years’ time you might have achieved it or you might have realized that it was totally unreachable. So that would change your path too.

Craig: ..to a moving target sometimes. Yeah.

Andrew: And let’s say, “Yeah, we’re very essential to this and we emphasize this.” Collaboration is key.

Craig: Cool.

Andrew: Use specialists. We do. There’s no point in trying to reinvent the wheel and trying to create your own resource where are resources out there which are free.  Even look at the tools of business on the IRD website. Very useful, it’s like, given in layman’s terms and answers all of the question that you have about your accountant. IRD gives you free GST classics. So, sign up for them.

Craig: Yeah.

Andrew: Otherwise, you’ll pay for your accountant, $600-700 to teach you the same thing that you’ll get for free. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Use the people who are meant to give you these stuff.

Craig: Awesome. Awesome. Hey, that’s been awesome, Andrew. Thanks very much for your time. I got some really cool tips from that and especially around the need to collaborate either friends, family, other business advisers, other business people, networking…just find some people. That’s great stuff. Seek advice. Expect more from our accountants. Ask what value are they providing you apart from just compliance. Big one, obviously is set your goals. Write them down and show them to some key people that you can keep in touch. Like what Andrew said, “ You share your goals with them and they’ll share your goals with you”  and you can review them for each other with a beer or something and keep in touch with your accountant.

So, if someone wants to talk about the products and services that you provide, how do we get a hold of you, where could we find you?

Andrew: So, we’re at www.moreca.co.nz  so that will give you direction as to how to engage with us.

Craig: So, that’s more with one o or with two?

Andrew: One. m-o-r-e-c-a.com That’s our platform. That’s our new website. There’s a lot of free resource on there.

Craig: Awesome.

Andrew: It’s pretty basic. It’s meant to start a conversation or to help you understand where you’re at. If you need more specific or particular advice…contact us through the portals. There’s plenty of them there. We offer a free consultation. Go by skype meeting if you’re outside the province or you can pop into the office but you can book that online as well.

Craig: Awesome.

Andrew: So, really, really became a helpful tool there to start the process and we’ll try to expand our blog in time. If you have any particular questions that are coming up, send them in. We might add them to the blog and add some feedback.

Craig: Throw in an email if you need help.

Andrew: Absolutely.

Craig: Awesome. Now, we really appreciate it, Andrew. Thanks very much for your time.

Andrew: Thank you, Craig.

 

 www.moreca.co.nz

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