Date posted: 05/07/2017 3 min read

The voice of experience: Murray Loewenthal

In this Q&A Acuity chats with Murray Loewenthal, retired FCA, about his many positive experiences during his decades in the chartered accounting sector.

In brief

  • Murray Loewenthal received a Queens Service Medal from New Zealand’s Governor General for his contribution to the community.
  • He completed his CA qualification by correspondence and after only a year of employment was offered a partnership.
  • With clients all over New Zealand, he grew a successful chartered accounting practice in Otorohanga, close to the Waitomo caves in the North Island.

Banner picture credit: Stoked for Saturday.

What is your current position and what are your key tasks? 

In March 2000, at the young age of 58, I retired from the chartered accounting practice of Loewenthal Wiseley Flett (now McKenzie Strawbridge) in Otorohanga to concentrate on directorships and community works where I could give back.

My current role is to assist with governance matters for companies and a wide variety of local, regional and national organisations.

How did your CA qualification help get you there?

I studied at Victoria University part-time while I worked for a big Wellington firm. After two years I was offered a job back in my hometown of Dannevirke, with Webley & Ruby.

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I completed the CA qualification through correspondence school. Later I applied for a job in Otorohanga at Goodley & Challis and after one year of employment was offered a partnership.

Without the CA qualification I would never have been able to enter public practice and build up a one partner and five staff firm - to 35 years later - a three partner and 15 staff firm. We had clients all over New Zealand, but more importantly, I would never have gained the knowledge to assist clients without the CA qualification. The ability to help solve problems for clients was magical for me.

How does your CA qualification help your ongoing career?

Being a CA has its advantages and disadvantages. Often on a board I am expected to be able to do the figures. However, it is my belief that I bring a lot more to the board table due to the experience that I have gained in more than 50 years of membership of the Institute [CA ANZ and its predecessor the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants].

All the good things that I have done were made possible through my learning and membership with Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.

Dealing with clients, even in a small country practice, was a delight and I got all sorts of problems thrown at me. Some were accounting or law based and I was able to solve these, albeit sometimes with careful research.

With other challenges I would often lead the client to make their own decision by asking the right questions. Through experience I realised that mostly the owner of the problem could answer their own questions.

However, they were often concerned because they were not sure that they had covered all of the options. It was my job to ensure that they had comprehensively thought through all aspects of the problem and potential solutions.

Would you recommend the CA qualification to others?

Yes, the qualification opened doors for me that I never imagined possible. The CA qualification can do the same for others.

More importantly it has enabled me to make a real contribution to society and enjoy the great pleasure of helping those in need. This has led me to meet some great people and to be able to enjoy the company of people I respect.

On 25 May 2017 I received a Queens Service Medal from the Governor General for my contribution to the community. All the good things that I have done were made possible through my learning and membership with Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and its predecessors.

What advice would you give others about the CA qualification?

You too can have a great life facilitated by the CA qualification. In my case lots of other things contributed, including a supportive wife and family, some great partners (and staff) in my practice, a fantastic small community that wanted to be better than just average. Also, some people in the cities who realised that not all of those who could contribute came from the city. Would I do it again? Yes I would. Would I suggest others do it? Yes I sure would.