- In New Zealand I was doing mostly compliance work. In Fiji there was a lot of investment happening and my work was more advisory.
- Human resourcing new businesses is not particularly difficult. When COVID hit we actually increased our staff levels by about 20%. While many businesses were closed we were providing audit outsourcing for HLB Australia firms. We were about the only firm to expand during this period.
- I have been a member of CA ANZ for 40 years and proud of it.
Photo Krishneel Chand
You’ve lived in Fiji for more than 30 years. How did you end up there?
It was an opportunity to go somewhere different. I’m originally from the UK but moved to New Zealand in my early 20s in 1977. I developed my own accounting firm in Auckland, however an opportunity came up in Fiji and my wife and I thought, ‘That sounds rather appealing and a bit of a challenge.’ We moved to Fiji in March 1991 with our two children who were aged three and one at the time. I now have three adult children. The original planned opportunity didn’t eventuate but another option came up as the owner wanted to retire back to New Zealand. So, I bought the business and haven’t looked back since.
What were the stark differences you noticed compared to New Zealand?
In New Zealand I was doing mostly compliance work. In Fiji there was a lot of investment happening and my work was more advisory, helping people set up their business and making sure they deal correctly with the investment protocols and continue on the straight and narrow. I found it way more interesting. Investors have different challenges and that was the appeal to me given the services I provided.
In the early days it was very difficult doing business in Fiji and it was quite frustrating, both for the client and for us to try and get things done. The attitude in government departments was not really very helpful. Move forward to these days and the situation has changed for the better. It is a positive place to invest. The government is very open and departments are more helpful. Government ministers, heads of departments: they willingly provide their phone numbers and email addresses to openly assist people to get into Fiji, invest and, hopefully, succeed.
How is the tourism industry faring now?
Well, Fijians are resilient. Early in the pandemic everybody went back to their homes and their villages and living off their land just to survive and support each other. There was no ‘furlough’ safety net for them. Even we were affected because half our clients were tourism related. We all realised the need to diversify. People in Fiji want to work: they want to get ahead and earn money for their families. Human resourcing new businesses is not particularly difficult. When COVID hit we actually increased our staff levels by about 20%.
While many businesses were closed we were providing audit outsourcing for HLB Australia firms. We were about the only firm to expand during this period.
Pictured: William Crosbie CA left New Zealand for a job opportunity in Fiji and carved out a life on the island paradise.
It sounds like there’s a strong sense of community?
Workwise, HLB has an annual Community Day. We get involved in a variety of campaigns: cleaning up roadsides, beaches, planting mangroves. The last campaign was a food drop. We compiled boxes of groceries and went deep into the villages and donated them. Another project was to rebuild a house for a family which lost theirs in a cyclone a few years ago. Giving back to the community is rewarding. Outside of work, on the weekends we entertain. I enjoy golf and swimming.
Are you proud of being a CA?
Being part of HLB, quality, standards and ethics are probably what I aspire to most and that to me is key to our profession. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in a small island country or in the UK, Australia or New Zealand, we all strive for quality. It is important that we continuously uphold these principles and maintain professionalism. I have been a member of CA ANZ for 40 years and proud of it.