Date posted: 19/07/2017 5 min read

1+1 Partnerships

Martin Bailey FCA and Cameron McGregor FCA have worked together for more than four decades. They tell us how they make it work. By Alexandra Johnson.

In brief

  • Bailey and McGregor of McGregor Bailey Chartered Accountants, Auckland, first worked together in 1976.
  • They recognise and leverage their complementary strengths.
  • Being part of different peer groups can be an advantage that enables access to a larger client group.

How did you meet and come to the decision to work together?

Martin: My initial partner was Cameron’s dad Ron. I first met Cameron when he was 11 years old – when he came in after school to raid the office biscuit tin.

Cameron: My father started McGregor Bailey in 1948 on his return from the Kiwis’ tour of England in 1947-48. Martin started working for Ron in 1966 and after some years working for him became his partner. I joined McGregor Bailey in 1976 part time while still at university, to get some experience. Once qualified, I left NZ to play rugby league in Leeds, UK. After nine months away I came home and was asked to re-join the firm. I became a partner in 1982.


What different strengths do you have that have contributed to the success of your relationship and business? 

Martin: We have complementary strengths in that we both focus on building our practices and are both heavily involved in community organisations – Cameron in rugby league, golf and Rotary and myself in Rotary, The Sargeson Writer’s Trust, masters swimming and yachting.
Our ten-year age gap meant we were involved in different “peer” groups, but this was also an advantage enabling us to cover a larger potential client group.

Cameron: Martin is ten years older than me so after Ron retired Martin became the senior partner. It never felt like that though. Martin was just another partner most of the time and he is a very relaxed character. We attended many institute [the former New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants] conferences together that allowed us to really get to know each other well and Martin was always very happy to talk through any issues or problems. We also had a ritual of attending the gym together at lunchtimes so this was very therapeutic in talking to one another. Martin became very involved in institute affairs and encouraged me to do the same. It made us very aware of what was happening in our profession.

What are the advantages of working with someone for so long?

Martin: In 1990 we dissolved the then partnership and all of us began practising on our own account. We operate our own client bases, debtors, staff and expenses, paying a “serviced office” rental to operate reception and backup needs. It has proved very successful and we have added another four Principals to McGregor Bailey – all bringing in and developing their own client bases. Our total turnover has more than trebled as a result.

Cameron: The obvious advantages are that we are very relaxed with the operations of the firm and as Martin has indicated, we share costs not profit. A huge strength is the support we provide each other. If ever anyone has an accounting problem you can bet someone in the organisation will have an answer.

Do you have common interests?

Martin: We tend to keep our private lives separate, mainly because of our differing interests – but always enjoy each other’s company over a drink.

Cameron: The obvious one is the gym and we are all keen on a variety of sports. Apart from that, we spend more time together than we do with our wives so different interests means there is always something different to talk about.

What advice would you give to CAs who are starting out to make their partnership work?

Martin: Always keep a sense of humour, be totally supportive of clients and enjoy developing a diverse base of clients – always use simple language.

Cameron: We are a family business and the culture is based on family values. I think this is extremely important and you need the leaders of any firm to act and believe in whatever culture they establish. Those values are ultimately what attract staff and clients to your business. I appreciate Martin’s humour and honesty and know that should anything happen we would always have one another’s backs and full support.