Date posted: 1/12/2016 3 min read

Career progression via specialisation

Chartered accountant Alex Canale on the career advantages and client benefits of being a specialist

In brief

  • Valuations are a really interesting part of what we do. Accountants are well placed to work in that space because of their knowledge and understanding of financial statements and how the valuation of assets and liabilities affects the overall financial position of an entity
  • As for the major challenges in the business valuation sector, there are a lot of different types of consultants who do valuations, so finding a point of difference is essential
  • Canale adds that this has also opened up career progression opportunities for him as there is a limited number of people within his organisation with this specialisation

Korda Mentha Forensic Director Alex Canale CA has created a niche for himself — and a group of like-minded specialists — within the practice.

The auditor and forensic accountant has been recognised by Chartered Accountants ANZ as a business valuation (BV) specialist, which has enabled him to progress his career while delivering extra value to clients.

Canale’s valuation work covers both contested and non-contested valuations.

Contested valuation includes minority shareholder disputes, or post-acquisition disputes. If a company makes an acquisition, but has doubt about the amount paid, then that can lead to the amount being contested.

Non-contested valuations are also done in a variety of contexts. “We also do valuations for financial reporting purposes, for example impairment testing or purchase price allocations,” Canale says.

Canale, who has bachelor degrees in commerce and law alongside a masters in applied finance, says gaining a BV specialisation has added another string to his bow.

“Valuations are a really interesting part of what we do. Accountants are well placed to work in that space because of their knowledge and understanding of financial statements and how the valuation of assets and liabilities affects the overall financial position of an entity.

“It’s something that I find really interesting and being able to specialise in it has given me more credibility to get more work in both contested and non contested valuations.”

Extra work pays off

Canale gained his specialisation via extra study through Kaplan Professional.

“There were four [mandatory] subjects that I did and I wrapped that up as part of a masters of applied finance,” he says.

“So, as part of getting the masters, I was also able to pick up on valuation subjects that I needed to do and also I did demonstrate that I had done some work in this area.”

Canale says the drive towards specialisation is mainly fuelled by client appetite.

“Clients want people who are a specialist or an expert in a particular area. Having a specialisation from a body like Chartered Accountants ANZ, which is well respected in business and in the legal profession, is really helpful from our point of view.

It means that we can say [to clients], ‘I’m a chartered accountant and all that goes with that designation, but I’ve also done some further study to specialise in this particular area’.”

Canale says that many of KordaMentha’s clients in contested valuations are solicitors; for non-contested valuations the clients are mainly corporates needing valuations for financial statement purposes.

Related: Business Valuation and Forensic Accounting Conference 2018

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“Those clients feel more comfort from appointing someone who has that extra background both in experience and in the [academic] study,” he says.

“It is early days for the business valuation specialisation, so what we need to do is educate people about what it actually is and what it means.

Its existence means that we’re able to go to market and say ‘we’re chartered accountants but with this particular extra accreditation’ to work in this space.”

As for the major challenges in the business valuation sector, Canale explains that there are a lot of different types of consultants who do valuations, so finding a point of difference is essential.

“You are able to offer all the fundamental values or principles that a chartered accountant brings to all their work, aspects like integrity, objectivity, professional competence and due care.

“However, the business valuation specialisation gives you a further point of distinction. When it comes to the challenge of operating in a high-stakes area like business valuation, this makes all the difference,” he says.

Canale’s advice to other chartered accountants considering doing a specialisation is to find an area which interests them; then it is “absolutely a worthwhile experience”.

“I found the study side really interesting, but I also wanted the business I work for to seek more work in this area.

The specialisation has enabled me to have more credibility in my push within the firm to say, let’s get a group of like-minded people to get interested in valuations. We’ve got people who have expertise. We’ve got specialisation. Let’s go out and try and get some more work in this area.”

Canale adds that this has also opened up career progression opportunities for him as there is a limited number of people within his organisation with this specialisation.

This article was first published in the September 2016 issue of Acuity magazine.

Become a specialist

  • Types of training you need

    Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand offers three types of training that entitle members to promote themselves as a “specialist”.

    These are:

    1. Financial planning: charteredaccountantsanz.com/financial-planning
    2. Business valuation: charteredaccountantsanz.com/Become-a-CA-BV-Specialist
    3. Self-managed super funds (SMSF): charteredaccountantsanz.com/SMSF-Specialisation

    Members who undertake this training have the opportunity to enhance their client base and career development in those areas.

  • Become a CA financial planning specialist

    Chartered Accountants ANZ financial planning specialisation Members interested in financial planning can become a CA financial planning specialist and receive:

    • Information on the latest standards
    • A monthly newsletter
    • Access to conferences
    • Support through lobbying of government and regulatory bodies
    • Networking opportunities
  • The role of a Chartered Accountant SMSF specialist

    Chartered Accountants ANZ SMSF specialisation As a CA SMSF specialist you will:

    • Receive a certificate recognising your specialisation
    • Be able to demonstrate your skills, knowledge and experience to clients
    • Build on your existing CA skill set
    • Be included in the list of CA SMSF specialists on the organisation’s website
    • Be included in the “find a CA” list on the organisation’s website (if a CPP holder).
  • What a Chartered Accountant approved as a BV specialist can expect

    Chartered Accountants ANZ business valuation specialisation CAs approved as a BV specialist will:

    • Receive a certificate recognising their specialisation
    • Be included in the list of CA BV specialists on the organisation’s website
    • Be included in the “find a CA” list on the organisation’s website (if a CPP holder)
    • Receive a 30% discount to the Australian Valuation Handbook through a partnership with Thomson Reuters