Date posted: 6/04/2017 2 min read

Tips for mentoring future business leaders

Claire Mackay CA offers her first-hand account of mentoring the next generation of young CAs.

In brief

  • Do not sugar coat the truth for a mentee. Instead, be diplomatic and provide strong guidance.
  • Mentoring skills are easily transferred to daily tasks and negotiations with clients.
  • Being a good listener can lead to making better financial decisions.

Last year I was selected to take part in the CA Mentor Exchange programme. I now have the privilege of mentoring a young CA who is developing in her professional career.  

I initially put my name down for the formal mentoring programme because I’ve had some fabulous CA mentors (both formal and informal) throughout my career and as I’ve progressed through different roles.  

My mentors have been incredibly generous with their time and knowledge. With patience and wit, they’ve challenged me to look at things differently, provided guidance on professional, business and personal opportunities as they arose, and helped me to look at things differently. And they continue to do all of these things.  

Mentoring clients

For CAs the concept of mentoring goes well beyond the development of the next generation. Mentoring is a core service that many of us provide day in and day out to our clients.  

In my role as a financial planner my clients rely on me as a sounding board for their ideas, to help clarify their goals and seek advice on how to structure their finances and investments.   

My role is not to sugarcoat things but to be honest and provide patient guidance on where they are, where they need to get to and how to get there.  

Set clear boundaries

I set clear rules early with my clients and I question and challenge how they structure their financial life. I am committed to keeping my clients accountable for how they are tracking relative to their goals in order to help them fully realise their potential financially, and to ultimately achieve financial security as they define it.  

These are all similar roles that I believe an experienced mentor should provide to their mentee. As CAs it is both our challenge and our opportunity to take on the role of mentors in our profession.  

If we look back in history, in the 1970s the reputation of accountants was truly at the bottom of the harbour. Likewise, in recent years the actions of some in financial planning has damaged the profession’s reputation. The journey to true professionalism takes many steps to raise ethical and professional standards and educational standards.  

Good mentors are crucial to professionalism in developing the next generation of CAs. We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us and we have a responsibility to assist those who come after us to be better than we were.  

We can lift the profession when we have experienced CA mentors providing guidance to the next generation.  

Top six mentoring tips

  • Set early ground rules and expectations in your mentor-mentee relationship.
  • Find common ground and rapport.
  • We have two ears and one mouth, use them in that ratio.
  • Share stories with humility – the good, the bad and the ugly.
  • Question and challenge; shout the positives but whisper the areas for improvement.
  • Celebrate progress and wins along the way.

More information on CA ANZ’s Mentor Exchange program can be found on the CA ANZ website.