- These CAs set up their own CA Discussion Group after meeting through CA ANZ’s first Practice Peer Support Program.
- With two located in Perth and one near Sydney, they share their ideas in monthly Zoom sessions.
- They face similar issues, share a passion for improving processes, and respect each other’s knowledge.
As told to John Burfitt
Photo Philip Gostelow
Ann Gordon FCA
Director, Easy Tax Solutions, Perth
It was in 2000 that I first started my business, Easy Tax Solutions, and I ran it along with doing contract work for many years (including when I moved from Sydney to Perth in 2012). Later, I went to work for the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) for 18 months and gave up all my clients. I soon realised the ATO was not my career path, so started up my business again from scratch.
At the same time, in November 2020, CA ANZ started its Practice Peer Support Program. It felt like a great opportunity to get a bit more serious about starting over.
Originally, there were five of us and we met weekly by Zoom. But after the six-month program had run, Scott, Robert and I had become the core of the group and decided to continue meeting as a CA Discussion Group.
What’s evolved is really more like peer mentoring. The three of us are in similar, smaller practices and face the same kind of client and tax issues.
Robert is very process-driven, has systems for everything and is also very organised, while I’m more of a fly-by-the-seat-of your-pants person. He’s inspired me to get my processes in line.
Scott is up to date on all the latest programs and technology and has advised me on what systems I need and how to best apply those. He’s always ready to try new things, like showing me how he does training for the people he works with.
I’m currently working on a new part of the business where I mentor and train BAS agents [who can complete Australian Business Activity Statements] to become tax agents. Scott and Robert look at what I’m doing and tell me if it’s good or not. It’s been so important that there’s someone I can talk to.
We’re still meeting monthly over Zoom, and it works with Robert and me in Perth and Scott in New South Wales – even though Robert and I have yet to meet in person! We balance each other and are really honest with each other. It’s good to know you’re not alone on your journey.
Pictured: Ann Gordon FCA and Robert Lopez CA
“It’s good to know you’re not alone on your journey.”
Robert Lopez CA
Robert Lopez Chartered Accountants, Perth
I set up my own practice in 1990 and sold it 12 years ago as I wanted to do other things, like developing practice management software for a paperless office. I started up the accounting business again in 2012, but it’s now based around my software.
I’d always been interested in online collaboration and peer mentoring; it’s valuable seeing how other accountants pursue things, especially if it’s in ways you do not.
What has made our CA ANZ group work is Ann, Scott and I are really interested in what each other is doing. We all have such respect for each other’s knowledge.
Scott uses lots of applications to solve different problems and is very good at looking at an app and working out how to leverage it most efficiently. I haven’t seen anyone else do that to the level he uses it.
Ann has a different way of thinking and is developing a coaching side to her business. It’s interesting to see how she’s doing that.
I’ve realised smaller accounting practitioners often have a wealth of information the bigger firms don’t. That’s because it’s harder for larger firms to change direction, while smaller companies can be flexible. You only see that through another practitioner who’s at the same level as you.
“Smaller accounting practitioners often have a wealth of information the bigger firms don’t.”
Collaborating is effective when you are with someone who’s willing to share knowledge. We really don’t mind sharing details – Scott is in NSW while Ann and I are in Perth, so we’re not a threat to each other’s business!
If you want to make this kind of collaboration work, you have to commit, make the time and do the things you say you will do.
Now we’re a CA Discussion Group, the three of us have increased our collaboration to a more specific level, where we will pick a subject, for example, a work paper. We each had our own, but once we combined them, we came up with one that is far better. That has been a big upgrade.
Scott Kay CA
Director, Integrity Plus Accounting, NSW Central Coast
Pictured: Scott Kay CA
I’ve always loved learning and helping people, and I see that what we do as accountants is really personal.
I started Integrity Plus almost six years ago and have been part of some networking groups before this. I know that the more you have regular contact with your peers there can be synergistic benefits, but I wanted to take that connection deeper.
The reason I joined CA ANZ’s Practice Peer Support Program was to see how other people ran their businesses, particularly those with larger clients. Most of mine are individuals and small businesses.
Robert has a lot of larger clients and we share a passion for streamlining processes. We have had discussions about how to get work done at the lowest possible charge-out rate to suit the client, and also have profitability and 100% accuracy.
With Ann having worked at the ATO, it was interesting to learn how the ATO views things from the other side; that’s an aspect I’d never known. It’s also been interesting hearing how she’s been looking into forensic accounting and training up bookkeepers.
The thing that has made our group work is we’re willing to show up and follow through. Ann, Robert and I share a passion for improvement that I find some other accountants don’t.
“The thing that has made our group work is we’re willing to show up and follow through.”
What’s essential is knowing that when you give away your secret tricks to other people, often they will do a similar thing for you. I’ve gained a huge amount of information by pushing beyond my hesitancy and giving something to someone else. Collaboration has benefits.
In the future, we’re planning to make our sessions more structured, with an agenda and a clear topic to discuss (along with the conversations that just come up). I need someone to push me in my work and that’s what our collaboration helps to do – that’s an amazing thing.
Connect with other CAs in practice
The next intake for the CA ANZ Practice Peer Support Program is in August.Find out more