Date posted: 30/01/2018 8 min read

CA brothers score runs in cricket and business

For New Zealanders Ross and Donald Jackson, playing cricket has been a family obsession through the generations which has opened doors to grow their NZ firm.

In Brief

  • Brothers and CAs Ross and Donald Jackson combine their love of the game with growing their accounting business.
  • A former president of NZICA, Ross played in the last two World Masters cricket tournaments in South Africa and West Indies.
  • Skills developed in cricket such as teamwork and leadership are proving helpful in Donald’s accounting career.

Famous sporting dynasties such as the Hadlees and Crowes are central to New Zealand’s competitive place in world cricket.

Yet it’s often the lesser-known cricket siblings such as chartered accountants Ross and Donald Jackson who continue to be the heartbeat of the grand old game in a country more famed for its rugby-playing men in black. “We’d like to think we were ‘averagely’ good at cricket,” says Ross modestly.

More bowler than batsman, sporting fanatic Ross, a past president of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA), played cricket until May this year, including the last two World Masters tournaments in Cape Town and Barbados. He is also secretary of the Southland Amateur Sports Trust. And batsman Donald, past president of the Queenstown Cricket Club, played in Leeds in the UK. 

But that’s not all. Sporting pedigrees aside, cricket is proving to be also good for business for these two CAs. Ross and Don Jackson are senior partners at McCulloch & Partners, which has a history tracing back to 1874, three years before the birth of international cricket. The firm has offices in Invercargill and Queenstown and employs a staff of 60. 

Cricket lessons for accountants

Cricket is the best team sport in the world, according to Donald, who sees a high correlation between hitting, bowling and catching a red ball and managing an accounting practice. “I strive to create a strong team culture,” he says. “The partner might be the captain, but you need everyone to do their bit to provide the service our clients need. On a Friday night, I double up well as the twelfth man for staff drinks.” 

(Pictured: Donald Jackson)

On the flipside, Ross believes his chartered accounting expertise has assisted associations and groups with which he has collaborated over the last 20 years. “Administratively, I have given back to the Southland Cricket Association and served as a representative of the New Zealand district panel. So, some of your business acumen helps when you're running a sport,” he says. 

Love of the game

There is a belief that New Zealand’s sporting obsession with rugby union is mauling other sports such as cricket. “Cricket is not dying in New Zealand, and there has been strong growth in junior playing numbers following the 2015 World Cup co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia,” says Donald Jackson. “There is a real desire by NZ cricket to invest in its grassroots, which has been neglected for some years.”

Ross Jackson is adamant that cricket will continue to have a place in New Zealand’s sporting landscape. “Now kids have got so much more choice, and there's obviously competition in each sport for numbers.”  

(Pictured: Ross Jackson)

Invercargill-based Ross Jackson (54) is a Fellow of Chartered Accountants ANZ and has held several roles, including chairing the Practice Review Board and membership of the Executive Board, culminating in his election in 2011 as President of NZICA. Ross is actively involved with many groups and associations.  

Donald Jackson (48) is a partner based at McCulloch’s practice in Queenstown. He is an independent board member of the Otago Country Cricket Association, a past junior representative coach. “We certainly never reached the giddy heights of international cricket, and my cricket career can be described as decidedly average,” says Donald. Ross chips in: “We played cricket, enjoyed it, enjoyed the teammates, and enjoyed the competition.” 

A batsman, Donald’s cricket highlights include two years for his school’s First XI and then some lower grade games during a stint in Leeds in the UK. “I got told off by an umpire once for my reaction to a leg before wicket (LBW) decision that went against me after I had scored a few runs. I did score one century for our club Southland, which is one more than Ross ever did.”

Older brother Ross returns serve: “I can bat, and I still hold the ninth wicket batting record for the Metropolitan Club in Southland.” A highlight of Ross’s cricketing journey was a match on the iconic test cricket ground, Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados. In a New Zealand context, playing cricket at Kensington Oval is analogous to kicking a rugby ball on Eden Park, or for Australians, participating in AFL on the Melbourne Cricket Ground. “I thought I was predominately a fast bowler, but Donald will say I was never fast,” says Ross, who has recently shelved his cricket participation due to neck and spinal deterioration. The cricketer CA went under the knife in December. “In 12 months, I might be able to swing a golf club or cricket bat,” he says hopefully.

I like to give back wherever I can, to encourage the future of our profession
Ross Jackson Secretary of the Southland Amateur Sports Trust

The Jacksons’ father Basil was also actively involved in the Southland Cricket Association. “Southland Cricket Association’s Queens Park in Invercargill was a bit like a second home in the summer,” recalls Donald. 

“We would man the scoreboard along with (third brother) Stephen and some friends for representative games. This experience is something I remember fondly and might have encouraged my appreciation for numbers.” Donald and Ross agree that brother Stephen, a schoolteacher, is the best cricketer in the family.

Whether its cricket or accounting, the Jacksons are advocates for giving back to their communities. “Ever since my son Bradley started playing cricket, I’ve tried to give back and help the young kids come through, and it's the same with the accounting profession,” says Ross. “I like to give back wherever I can, to encourage the future of our profession.”

As for the next Jackson generation, Bradley is passionate about cricket, but badminton is proving to be his sport of choice, according to Ross Jackson. Meanwhile, his daughter Brittany follows in the family vocational tradition by working in a prized role as an accountant for the Auckland Blues Super Rugby franchise, home to cross-code sporting superstar Sonny Bill Williams.  

Apart from having a bright cricketing future, Donald also hopes that youngest son Cameron (17) will bowl into his footmarks and study accounting. Cameron recently played for Otago at the New Zealand national Under 19s tournament and will captain Otago at the national Under 17s tournament. “For the past two years, Cameron has taken accounting at school, and he asked me some questions in the first few weeks of his studies. But nothing since, and he has passed his exams comfortably.”

Cameron has a knack for numbers so a career in finance beckons, believes Donald. “He is still thinking about what he wants to do, but it will involve cricket for a while yet. However, he appreciates the need to have a career for the future.”

Community service

The Jacksons are not the only members of McCulloch Partners involved in community relations activities. Fellow partner Mark Bain, for example, is a member of CA ANZ’s Public Practice Advisory Board. 

“Community service is something we encourage all our staff to get involved in, whether it's culture, the arts, social services or sport,” says Ross Jackson. “In a professional setting, you need a broad, network and to become involved in the community if you want to achieve in your career. You need a well-balanced outlook.”

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