- Lisa Mead CA first incorporated social change into her accounting career while working for KPMG and Kendons.
- She identified mentoring as a key solution for creating positive outcomes for at-risk kids.
- Charities provide her with impact reporting so she can gauge the effectiveness of her donations.
As told to Helen Corrigan
Lisa Mead’s son was 10 weeks old when she decided to raise him alone. That decision, made halfway through studying for an accounting qualification, upended Mead’s life, work and financial situation. But the experience of parenting solo also made her determined to find a way to help vulnerable children of single parent families.
A decade later, in 2018, she started her own accounting practice, Social Currency Investments, and embedded sustainable social change front and centre in the organisation’s business model.
Christchurch-based Mead delivers accounting and advisory services to a spectrum of business clients. And since its incorporation, her limited liability company has paid out more than NZ$16,000, or 10% of its revenue, to four partner charities.
The charities work to build resilience in vulnerable Kiwi children by providing them with mentors and role models. The focus is on helping to even the playing field between disadvantaged kids and others.
Mead answered a few questions for Acuity.
Lisa Mead CA.
Was becoming an accountant always your plan?
I was good at maths at school, but sociology and psychology were my first loves. Leaving school, though, I didn’t think I had enough life experience to work in psychology. I also realised my analytical skills fitted accounting. As it turns out, I’ve ended up utilising all three interests. Understanding at-risk kids includes understanding the value of cognitive behavioural therapy; for instance, how emotional regulation impacts on how they act, and why they’re unlikely to succeed when older without early positive support.
When did you first incorporate social change into your accounting career?
During my seven years at KPMG in Christchurch [2009-2016], including as corporate social responsibility manager, my awareness grew. After that, in 2017, while at Kendons, I talked the directors into donating 10% of my client base commission to my company, which was then donated to my partner charities.
How do you decide which causes to support?
I spent hours researching articles, papers, websites, statistics, government documents and the like before identifying mentoring as a key solution for creating stability and positive outcomes for at-risk kids.
Of the four partner charities I chose, three – the Graeme Dingle Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the Youth Alive Trust – are mentoring organisations. The other, Cholmondeley Children’s Centre, offers respite care for vulnerable kids.
I require the charities to provide me with evaluation reports and impact reporting, so I can gauge the effectiveness of how they use donations.
“I require the charities to provide me with evaluation reports and impact reporting…”
How do you ensure your business is efficient enough to give away 10%?
I keep regular goals and reporting. I also track cash flow, forecast business operations 12 months ahead, and know my variable and fixed costs. I understand what it takes to reach the revenue required to donate 10%, while providing for my family as I would in a corporate role.
Has the charitable commitment been good for business?
I believe so. But the expectation is still that the accounting work is done to the highest quality. At the end of the day this is a business; we provide clients with services. It’s just that I choose to donate 10% of revenue rather than putting it in shareholder pockets.
What feedback do you receive from clients?
I think many clients like the idea of dealing with an accounting and consulting service trying to generate a different kind of profit – lasting social impact.