Chris Wheatley founder of Scope Accounting

Chris Wheatley founder of Scope Accounting

Highlights of my conversation with Chris Wheatley

  • Naming a new business
  • How to get your add-on in front of an accountant
  • The relationship between the accountant and bookkeeper
  • Finding your first client at a bucks party

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Heather:        Welcome, Chris.

Chris:             Thank you, Heather.

Heather:        How are you doing today, Chris?

Chris:             I’m doing well, lots of work to do which is very encouraging when you’ve just started out and taken a big leap to go on your own in our great industry.

Heather:        Sensational, that sounds fantastic. Now, I’ve got to start with the very important question up front.

Chris, who is your favourite superhero and why?

Chris:             I’m a Batman man.

Heather:        Batman.

Chris:             I don’t know where he came from but if you could see my office, and he’s followed me around for those who’ve worked with me previously, I’ve got a Batman which I think I got from like a Happy Meal or maybe from, you know, just from like a Happy Meal type thing, not that I buy Happy Meals. He looks over me from my office.

Heather:        So you stole it from some poor child who had a Happy Meal if you’re not buying the Happy Meal?

Chris:             I bought the Happy Meal. You know how Seinfeld always had a Superman reference?

Heather:        Yes.

Chris:             Chris Wheatley, Scope Accounting, always has a Batman reference, and I remember seeing the first Batman, the Michael Keaton one …

Heather:        Yes.

Chris:             As a kid and I fell asleep. I think that kind of moment when I was six has kind of stayed in the back of my mind.

Heather:        Yes.

Chris:             And obviously Christian Bates is awesome as Batman.

Heather:        Did you like the cartoon-y like Batman shows?

Chris:             Yeah, I definitely liked the mid-90s one, the one that has the voice who is the same voice as the Batman ride that was down at Movie World.

Heather:        Okay, for listeners from overseas, we have a Movie World down on the Gold Coast.

Chris:             Like Universal Studios.

Heather:        Yeah, exactly, like Universal Studios. It’s called Movie World and it has a Batman ride as well as many other rides.

Chris, you’ve just recently started Scope Accounting. Why did you start your own accounting practice?

Chris:             It’s a logical progression for your school set, for your client interactions, and the industry lends itself to it. In this day and age, I guess that’s why we’re here. The barriers for entry are just so low compared to what they used to be even five or ten years ago.

Heather:        But not everyone goes off and starts their own business. Many people are happy to stay as an employee in practice, as a partner in practice for years and years and years.

What inspired you to start your own practice? Was it the low barriers to entry?

Chris:             No barriers to entry meant I still slept at night while preparing for it because obviously when you’re building anything, with a fresh baby around and you’re doing anything that is a major financial move, the ease of start-up is obviously a great concern. What made me do it as opposed to those other career options, as an extrovert in an introverted industry, why the hell not?

Heather:        You mentioned your baby. Maybe we can share with our listeners, maybe if you’re willing, maybe share your age and your baby’s age.

Chris:             I’m 32 which you could have worked out by saying that I was six when I saw the first Batman movie in 1988. My little man is nine months old.

Heather:        Interesting. You’re starting out a new accounting practice at 32 years of age with a young family on hand. That’s kind of a very busy period in someone’s life with a young family on hand.

You’ve only recently started the business. What challenges have you faced?

Chris:             Knowing that if you don’t work, you don’t get paid which is a common self-employed … each year that I raise with clients back in my previous role, no one is paying them the penalty rates for the public holidays, for the bank holidays. No one’s paying for their annual leave. If there’s no money coming in from you not doing the work, there’s no money coming in.

Heather:        Yeah, absolutely.

Chris:             We did have a bit of a buffer and a business credit card that gave us a bit of breathing space at the start of it but obviously that was a great concern that it might be awhile until revenues start flowing in. Yesterday was a public holiday where I live. I knew I had to work and that was fine because I’ve got the work to do and I’m sure clients appreciate you working when they know that you don’t have to.

Heather:        Yeah, it’s a bit of a shock to the system that you can be working on holidays and public holidays when you are running your own business. I had the conversation with my husband this morning. We both got the flu shots and get them every year because if we don’t work, that’s it, we don’t have the income coming in. We need to go out and spend that twenty minutes to get that flu shot.

Chris:             Yeah, definitely. You need to invest in yourself.

Heather:        Yes.

Chris:             Make sure you’ve got the time.

Heather:        Yes.

Where did the name Scope Accounting come from?

Chris:             This is something that my sister, who is my graphic designer, and I guess my marketing team for lack of a better term, said that I should have a canned response to. I’m still working on that canned response.

I wanted a word, I didn’t want a semi … well, it’s a new age name that you see … like Accounting Legal 2.0 name that you see a lot of people have these days. I won’t go into specifics for obvious reasons but there are a lot of names out there of new firms and even people who are changing from the ‘Wheatley & Associates’ to another name. They go to a name that’s just too … like they’re trying to be something which they’re not. They’re still an old fashioned accounting firm. They’re still old-fashioned lawyers but they turn into a funky new name.

Heather:        They’re chasing a trend.

Chris:             Yeah, they’re chasing a trend. What happens in a couple of years’ time when the feature wall isn’t fashionable anymore? You paint over it if you’re doing a renovation.

Heather:        Yeah.

Chris:             But it’s your business name. You’ve got so much good will and intellectual property, intellectual value tied to that …

Heather:        Yes.

Chris:             In a good name. That was at the back of my mind and also knowing that we’re in a small business but I guess as an accounting business services, you’re in a bit of the base for small business. Would I be doing something in my forties, in my fifties? What’s a name that I could transplant across to other industries?

Heather:        Without restricting yourself.

Chris:             Without restricting myself, yes. Scope Accounting, what specifically focused in on that? Well, what do you do? You’ve got a scope of work. I can help you with this scope of work. If it’s on my Skype, if it’s on my radar, we can do it.

Also, it is a reference to, when we were doing the brainstorming, a kaleidoscope. You can see a bit of a kaleidoscope in my main logo that my sister did as a precursor to deciding the name Scope. I’m just a big advocate of staying dynamic in the business, being always changing, always adapting, and I guess cloud computing lends itself to that. Knowing that a kaleidoscope always changes, it’s never the same it’s kind of like a snowflake, all snowflakes are unique. I’m not too sure what they say that …

Heather:        They do.

Chris:             I’m an accountant. But a kaleidoscope is the same, they’re always changing. You just turn it a little bit and you get a different view. Just turn it a little bit and you get a different view. That is where we were going with Scope and that is probably where my marketing and I guess branding really ramps up. I’ll be sloganing, positioning myself.

Heather:        Yes, so did you opt not to call yourself Kaleidoscope because it’s too difficult to spell?

Chris:             Yes, and I don’t really wear that many tie-dyed shirts. I thought it might attract the wrong type of client

Heather:        Yes, it might do.

So Chris, what cloud solutions do you use in your own practice?

Chris:             I use Xero and associated suites. So that’s Workflow Manager … what’s the name?

Heather:        WorkflowMax I think it is.

Chris:             WorkflowMax, yeah. XeroPracticeManager and WorkflowMax. I am starting to use the Sharesight which is the …

Heather:        The stocks.

Chris:             Yes, the stocks management one. That was a good. I had a live client that I could … he was a mate that needed a solution. I said, “Look, here’s one.”

Heather:        Chris, you’ve mentioned three products there. You talked about Sharesight. Sharesight, for the people listening in, is a share portfolio management solution and that plugs into Xero the main accounting solution but it also plugs into Xero the cash book solutions, which individuals may use just for their own personal budgeting. So it plugs into both personal Xero solutions and business Xero solutions. That sounded a bit advertorial but I just wanted to summarise and explain that for people who are listening in. From my perspective, I just hear glowing reports about Sharesight all the time which is what you’re sharing as well.

Can I take a step back? I know a lot of people listening in will actually have an appreciation of Xero but why do you like Xero? Can you sum that up in one or two sentences?

Chris:             It’s really easy to teach someone, whether they’ve got a debit/credit background or not. There’s not handholding. It’s a digital introduction. It’s a short orientation process whether as a client, as another professional, or as a staff member.

Heather:        Yes.

Chris:             And you’re good to go. As long as you know how to use a mouse and you get basic webpage logic about clicking and double-clicking, typing and all that.

Heather:        Yeah.

Chris:             As opposed to a standalone program where key to put shortcuts mean so much.

Heather:        Absolutely. Yes, it is interesting because I know that I trained Xero, and I find a lot of the hurdles are actually around people using a browser and that they keep going, “Xero is shutting down.” I mean its like, “No, you’re shutting your browser down,” and they would repeatedly shut their browser down five or ten times. It’s good for people who are like us, like advisers and accountants who are introducing people to Xero, to be aware that they may need to talk to the people that they’re introducing to it about browser techniques.

Chris:             Yeah, Google Chrome over Windows Explorer. That’s a basic thing that I don’t think … as soon as you get told that IT web people prefer Google software, Google docs over Microsoft and that, then you realise, “Right, therefore they’re going to write stuff …” I’m not a software guy so don’t hunt me down.

Heather:        For recommending a browser. No, you’ve just opened up a huge can of worms and people are going to … the Safari people are going to now come in and attack you in their droves, and the Firefox people … your life is basically over, Chris.

Chris:             I’m a Samsung man.

Heather:        Yeah, people are very passionate about their browsers, definitely.

Chris:             As soon as you realise that the people behind it built it using one particular format, one particular viewing medium, use that viewing medium. It just makes like a hell of a lot easier.

Heather:        Absolutely. It sounds like your recommend viewing your online solutions via Google Chrome and that’s my default choice for my browser as well.

Chris:             It wasn’t a year ago but nowadays … I’m just noticing Facebook works, LinkedIn works, even the new web-based outlook, the old Hotmail works a lot better in Google Chrome.

Heather:        Yes, can I also now ask you to … you mentioned that you’re using WorkflowMax in your business as well.

Can I also ask you to explain what work Workflow Max is? I know of this product but what is it? How do you use it in your business?

Chris:             I think simply, in a term that would adapt over to other industries would be, it’s the CRM engine for your accounting firm. Xero doesn’t have the full tax offering at the moment. Because it doesn’t have everything, you still need other standalone tax lodgement programs, Asic lodgement, etc., etc.

Heather:        Yes.

Chris:             WorkflowMax is … I’m still building it because obviously it’s eight weeks into my enterprise. I’m still getting all the information right but it’s essentially that one point, CRM, do your billing out of it, and it feeds Xero as well so that you have the one database, I guess.

Heather:        Yes, and my understanding of the product is while it’s very focused on the accounting industry, it can actually be used across many different other industries. I know people, say working in public relations, who are also using the product.

Chris:             Yeah, I think it was originally like an engineering or a software engineering program that Xero acquired, and obviously, Xero can correct me there. I think the concept is any professional service that has a time sheet.

Heather:        Yeah.

Chris:             Not that I do timesheets but I think that’s the … if you have job.

Heather:        Job costing.

Chris:             Yeah, if you have a job and you have a job costing that is time dependent as opposed to manufacturing cost accounting

Heather:        Time dependent job costing.

Chris:             Yeah, job costing, it’s there for your … as probably one of the first things to examine.

Heather:        Thank you for sharing that information about those three different products there Chris.

There are a growing number of new solutions in the Xero add-on eco space. What tips do you have for those solutions to get in front of accountants? How do I get in front of Chris Wheatley and how can they get accountants to know about those solutions and recommend them?

Chris:             Granted, other than Sharesight, I haven’t looked into anything with a serious intention of buying as a firm at the moment.

So how should someone get in front of you? How did Sharesight get in front of you?

Chris:             I’ve got an interest in the field technically.

Heather:        Yes, so did you explore it or did they …?

Chris:             I think it was there. They were at a road show.

Heather:        Yes.

Chris:             You’re just walking around with your free cake and coffee, “Look at this. You do tax reporting for shares on the Australian and international stock market.” “Yes, I like that for clients. Let’s talk.” That was it.

Heather:        Okay.

Chris:             I don’t know how they would know … we all need that stuff. We all need to see the capital gains tax reporting with Share …

So anyone who’s in shares, it’s of benefit to them, that particular solution?

Chris:             Yeah, and I don’t know of any other … I’m sure they’re out there but I don’t know of any other similar type products.

Heather:        Okay, that’s interesting. I think the space and the number of solutions has definitely grown dramatically in the last few years. For myself, I normally go to … say I meet you, Chris, at an event and I’ll say, “Chris, what solutions are you using at the moment and what would you recommend that I need to know about?” I will go and that will be my question that I will ask people.

I recall … I think it was actually a New Zealand bookkeeper and she was like, “Yes, you’ve got to know Sharesight. You’ve got to use that solution.” It sounds like we’re doing an advertorial for Sharesight but it’s from someone actually …

Chris:             This is not an advertorial but if they want to half my monthly subscription, feel free.

Heather:        But it was a person, a user’s recommendation in terms of that. That’s what pushes me to actually have a look at it and have that confidence to then go and recommend it to another client. But I do agree, it’s very difficult out there.

Chris:             That’s actually a good point. As you know, I have a couple of coffee-shop clients and they’ve all start off with one POS system which they run off their iPad. It would be better if it ran off of Google … off of a Samsung 10.1 but that’s all right. We can leave that till later. It’s one of the main POS systems butt none of them really love it. If I have another client that says, “We’re doing this. We want this,” ra ra ra, “We want a POS solution.”

Heather:        Yes.

Chris:             Because these other clients are using it. They’re young guys so they’ve done their own research and they’re just using it because it might have been up the top of the list.

Heather:        Yes.

Chris:             But because they are happy with it, it’s still my first recommendation. I suppose making sure that the program does what they say they can do.

Heather:        Yes, and it’s always difficult because there are parameters that you don’t consider when you’re investigating and researching a solution. You don’t consider, “What do I need to do if I need to refund someone?” It’s not sort of something that you perhaps contemplate. It’s difficult to sort of gather all of those questions together and then ask them to do it like how are they pushing the information across to Xero? Are they pushing it across individually or are they going to batch the information? Does that suit what you need it to do?

I know I just went into a business and they had it all set up. They had this whiz bang kid who came in and said, “That’s done.” But I was like, “You’ve been operating a week and you’ve already got ten thousand invoices.” This is not ten thousand but it was like it was going to grow very quickly to ten thousand. I’m like, “You’re going to hit the soft API limits on that. You need to contemplate that.”

It is very difficult to research these products and know that they meet all of your requirements. Also, they’re evolving very quickly as well. While they didn’t meet it last week, they may meet it this week.

Chris:             Yeah.

Moving on from that, Chris,

What is your relationship as an accountant working with bookkeepers?

Chris:             I had a coffee with one of my bookkeepers yesterday. That was a good last minute, “What are you doing? I’m over your side of town, let’s have a coffee.” That was good. If you don’t like tax, you don’t want to be a back-office board or whatever, bookkeeping or some type of managerial accounting, like a basic bookkeeper or otherwise level.

Heather:        Yes.

Chris:             Makes sense. You leave the tax stuff up to people who don’t mind being called … I like think us tax guys compared to the bookkeepers, you know that make of the ute, that make of the pick-up truck?

Heather:        Yes.

Chris:             Who you think, “All right, I’ve got to do a dump run. I’m going to ask that guy to drive me to help me move, to go to the dump for me.”

Heather:        Yes.

Chris:             Being a tax accountant versus a bookkeeper and management accountant is the whole, “Oh, you’re a tax accountant. You can do my tax return.” I can but I don’t want to. I digress. You’re talking about …

So you have a positive relationship with bookkeepers? Is that what I’m getting from that? And you work with them.

Chris:             Yeah, both on commercial referrals, it swings both ways, but also from a … just from like a grain or a pig, it’s the same industry but it’s from a different …

Heather:        Perspective?

Chris:             Different perspective, yeah. Different part of the small business services advisory.

Heather:        It sort of compliments the small business, that’s what they need.

Chris:             Yeah, especially if they’re a business that needs it and they’re a bookkeeper that’s been around for a while. They’re on the front line of it. They’re on the front line of what small businesses complain about because most accountants probably don’t even go to their client’s premises once a year.

Heather:        Yeah.

Chris:             But a small business that’s big enough that they need a bookkeeper, the bookkeeper’s at least going in once a quarter.

Heather:        Yeah, absolutely. I, for one, think that accountants should work to build a strong relationship from both ends. There should be a strong communication/relationship there and a strong respect for the people there.

Chris:             Yeah.

Heather:        Because people are doing complimentary roles. At the end of the day, most people I know who work in the management accounting or bookkeeping space, they want the best for the small business owner, and the tax accountants want the best for the small business owner. Sometimes, they don’t communicate that well enough.

Chris:             Yeah, that’s a common … the communication, even when it is a … don’t hate me out there haters but the bookkeeper to tax accountant role is, and don’t hate me people, it’s a doctor’s to nurse’s kind of role?

Heather:        Yes.

Chris:             I come from a family of nurses and my brother’s a doctor so don’t …

Heather:        It is a specialist role and the nurse is extremely important and the doctor is extremely important. For our listeners, they will have listened … our earlier guest was Gayle Buchanan and she calls herself the ‘Number Nurse’. But they both have very important roles and they are both necessary for the operation of the small business relationship. I think it’s important that there’s a respect there.

Chris:             If they’re not working well together, the patient loses.

Heather:        Suffers, yeah.

Chris:             Yeah, and again, you can expand that to if your accountant isn’t working well with your financial planner or if you have mortgage broker or if you have a lawyer, because they’re a little bit territorial about certain aspects of it, you as a client aren’t getting the best result. Use the analogy of your doctor not talking to a specialist.

Heather:        Nurse, yes. Absolutely, yeah.

Chris:             Physio, your orthopaedic surgeon looking after your new hip. If they’re not talking together, if they’re not working together, it’s pointless. You’re probably paying …

Heather:        You’re paying more, absolutely. Absolutely, you’re paying for more if they’re not talking and they’re not working well together. If they are working well together, it’s really wonderful.

Chris:             Yeah.

Heather:        Let me go on. You might have already … no, maybe not. Maybe you’ve answered this, maybe not.

What kinds of cloud solutions do you recommend to your clients? Maybe you don’t have many there because you said you don’t recommend that many of the add-ons, maybe you’re just recommending Xero.

Chris:             Yeah, if someone has always done their own bookkeeping internally, and whether that’s the reluctant wife of the tradie or otherwise, Xero just makes sense if they don’t like any of the others or if they don’t naturally speak debits and credits. I wouldn’t say I don’t recommend any others. I just haven’t come across …

Heather:        Yeah.

Chris:             I just really haven’t gotten into that space yet and that’s just through lack of time more than anything else. But my business is using Xero and as more and more live data gets into it, I’m going to, you know, use myself as the case study for fathom reportings of the world, for those reporting programs.

Heather:        Solutions.

Chris:             Solutions, yeah, and the budgeting and the cash flow stuff, just the basic financial management tools. If I know someone that has business that I’m involved in from a client point of view, go in there, actually go, “You’ve got a bit of an inventory management issue here.”

Heather:        Yeah.

Chris:             “Let’s use this. Let’s try this.”

Heather:        Yeah.

Chris:             I think it’s more about we’re not ready. I know people say you’re never going to be ready, you might as well just jump into it right now.

Heather:        It’s timing.

Chris:             It’s not that I’m ready, it’s all about timing. I’ve got to pay the mortgage first.

Heather:        Yeah, absolutely. It’s nice when the client comes to you and they’ve sort of perhaps done their own research and they say, “I’m using Stitch Labs, can you come and have a look at how this works?” You need to go in and you have the opportunity to go and learn it then. But no, you are in the early days of starting the business, so it’s something about getting in front of people and identifying those needs.

Chris:             Yeah, needs analysis.

Heather:        Yeah, needs analysis, exactly.

What would you say to the business owner are the benefits of using an accountant who utilizing cloud tools? The business owner who’s out there listening to you, what are the benefits to him of using an accountant who is leveraging off the cloud?

Chris:             Not that price is everything but you could be or you potentially are using the same database, the same numbers. You’re putting the numbers into the same system that the accountant is using. Maybe a lot of small business owners don’t realise that, the typical accountant in Australia at least, gets the clients …

Heather:        Data

Chris:             Source data. Whether that’s an accounting solution like Xero, or any of the industry-specific reporting programs.

Heather:        Yes.

Chris:             We’ve got a few in manufacturing and plumbing and all that. We get your data, we get your profit and loss, we get your balance sheet, we get your general ledger accounts, and traditionally we re-type that in into our reporting software.

Heather:        Yeah.

Chris:             Then we go and do what we need to do. Well, if it’s a cloud and if the financial reporting balance sheet profit and loss and that is sufficient enough, and your client data is good whether you’ve done the bookkeeping yourself or a bookkeeper has come in and done it and where the accountant is using it as their end of reporting tool, wow like that’s just … for a decent sized client, that’s just eight hours off the bill.

Heather:        Absolutely, yeah. I know my accountant for my very small business, he publishes the fixed asset depreciation which works within Xero, he publishes that, he checks it against his own system and if it’s like three cents off and we do this every year, and he goes, “We can cope with three cents.” He then pushes a button, exports the data and imports it into his system and it works seamlessly. He says it stops about four hours work and that’s just on a small business. As you’re saying, on a large business, you’re saying eight hours work and that’s eight hours that they’re going to bill you for. So there is a massive cost saving there.

Chris:             If my old world compatriots don’t realise that, wow like I look forward to servicing their clients in the near future.

Heather:        Definitely, well this leads onto another good question. This leads on to my next question. I won’t say it’s my good question. This leads on to my next question.

You took the leap. You started a new business, Chris. Where did you find your very first client?

Chris:             At a buck’s night, at a stag night for those North America listeners here.

Heather:        Okay, do I want to know anymore? That’s sensational that you found your first client at a stag night, sensational.

Chris:             You talk about stuff and you’re with … I suppose this is a generational thing as well. There aren’t many … I hate the term again, I hate lots of terms, Gen Y business services accountants but when you get talking, and there are a lot of small businesses out there that are run by young guys and guys in their forties even, they don’t want their dad’s accountant who’s about to retire. They want their own accountant who’s going to retire after them or who’s going to go through the same, not maybe business issues, but the same personal issues as them.

Heather:        This is actually one of the things I recommend to people when they say to me, “What should I look for in an accountant?” I say look for someone who’s a similar age as you because they will grow with your business. As you said, if you’re thirty and your accountant is fifty and while he may be very vibrant, etc., he’s going to be retiring in ten years perhaps, and then you’re going to have to refind, recommit and get in a new relationship because it is a lifetime relationship.

I know my own father who operated as a solicitor, he had his clients for years, like thirty years, and that’s what you want. When you have that relationship with that accountant, you want to be in that relationship with them for decades. Finding someone who is of the same age as you is a good thing.

Chris:             It’s fundamental to it.

Heather:        Yeah, I think it’s a smart decision to make and that’s a niche market for you, Chris, people the same age as you. So moving on.

Maybe you’ve already answered this but what advice would you have for someone looking to start their own accounting practice?

Chris:             If you think you can, why not? A few peers were saying this, “What’s the worst thing that happens?” If you’re at that level where you’ve got some client gravity, and even though you know that you don’t know it all, you know how to fill in those gaps of knowledge whether it’s from basic accounting or from any other field.

Heather:        Yes.

Chris:             You’ve got the network already established which I did. If you know that you can deliver to the client, if you know … there’s no ifs or buts, if you know you can deliver to the client, why not? The worse that happens is after six months, after twelve months or whatever, your exit strategy is you merge yourself in with someone else.

You might not be bringing hundreds of thousands of dollars of clients but you’re at least more attractive for that senior manager role at a small suburban firm than the guy next to you who is not bringing any clients. That’s the difference between a $100,000 and a $130,000 a year: bringing in clients.

Heather:        Yeah, absolutely. Starting your own business is such a huge learning curve. Maybe you’ve come across it as well, I know that I sometimes speak to these people who are in the big four accounting firms. They’re management consultants and they’re charging themselves out at very high amounts, and then they go off and they start their own business. Eight weeks later where you are now, they’re like, “Oh my goodness, I was going in and giving advice and I actually knew nothing, I’ve actually gained so much knowledge just in this process,” which is what you’ve done.

You have so much more of an appreciation of what that small business is going through, is missing out on, needs to be reminded about and just the number of hats that they’re juggling. If you say this to them, you perhaps need to say it to them several times over because it’s just turned into white noise because they’re worried about a shipping container coming in from China, they’re trying to get their kids to school, they’ve got insurance worries and stuff. It is a massive learning experience.

Chris:             Yeah, and if you think that all you’re going to deliver to your clients is what’s in the textbook … you don’t preach to them out of a book, it’s the application, it’s the feedback, it’s getting them in the right headspace before, keeping them in the right headspace after, giving them that after-sales service which a lot of people might not associate with professional services. But you’re just not selling them the wise words of wisdom.

Heather:        No, some people say that … I know when I was talking to Gayle, I’ve mentioned to her just before, she sometimes feels like she’s a marriage counsellor as well as a bookkeeper because you end up dealing with so many different aspects of people’s lives.

Chris:             Yeah, definitely. I just got off the phone with someone who was calling up … it’s her business but she was calling up because her husband wants to buy a motorbike. I could tell that she did not want the motorbike for the safety reasons and yeah, you have to put that disclaimer there. “I’m not appropriately qualified to have the conversation which I think you want to have about whether or not your partner should go off and get a motorbike but I can tell you that there’s no tax benefits in it.”

Heather:        Yes.

Chris:             So I guess I’m on the negative about him getting a motor bike.

Heather:        Yes, sorry, no definitely, those multiple conversations. Chris, you’ve been in business now for eight weeks.

Chris:             Yes.

What goals have you set for yourself for the next three months?

Chris:             Next three months?

Heather:        Next three months.

Chris:             Involves staff members. I thought that staff members will be a 12 month plan but things are progressing very nicely. I believe three months is a staff member. I know that that staff members won’t just be an extra overhead that won’t add value, it’s all about getting the work done sooner.

Heather:        Yes.

Chris:             What’s that? That makes it a volume based business from a consumer goods point of view.

Heather:        Yes.

Chris:             The more work you do, the more work you get through and the happier clients are because the work’s done.

Heather:        Yes.

Chris:             I know that staff members are a very nice thing. Where I am now, I am borrowing office space from a good friend of mine who is also in small business, He does computer stuff.

Heather:        Yes.

Chris:             I don’t know if when I get a staff member that means I have to go out and find somewhere myself. That could also be an add-on to … there you go, add-on, no pun intended, to getting an extra staff member to get through the work quicker. They’re the two goals.

Heather:        So possibly office space and a new staff member.

Chris:             Yeah.

Heather:        Excellent, okay. Maybe we can revisit you again and speak with you again in about three months’ time and see how you’re at with that and see how the business is evolving.

Chris:             Definitely.

Heather:        Chris, I’ve got one more question for you.

What would you say to a 17 year old about to leave school who wants to be the next Chris Wheatley, to found an accounting practice and live the dream? What would you say he should do?

Chris:             What colour hair does he have? Is he a red head?

Heather:        He may be.

Chris:             All right, well, there you go, that’s one tick in the right box.

Heather:        Okay.

Chris:             If you don’t speak the language of accounting and I know accounting people think the bean counter but we need a different term for the greater industry because it’s business advisory, business services. I don’t know, we need a better term for it. But if you don’t speak the language, you’re not going to do it.

I know a few … I want to say heaps, I want to say hundreds but that’s not right. I’ve come across, in all my jobs, either bookkeepers, clients who entrusted themselves to this role or other accountants, that just don’t get it. They wouldn’t get it if they were audited. They wouldn’t get it if they are in solvency. They wouldn’t get it if they were financial reporting roles in a listed company.

Heather:        They need to fill in the gaps, is that what you’re telling me?

Chris:             Yeah, it’s a language. It kind of runs parallel to economics and banking and finance. If you don’t get the language, what are you doing? If you think you’re good at math, there’s no math in it, computers do it all for you. If you think you’re good at math and you’re good with numbers and you’re smart, go and do engineering, you’ll earn more. But if you speak the language and you enjoy the interaction with people who want to pay to listen to you, right, like there’s applied business science, accounting, economic advisory kind of stuff, if you don’t …

Heather:        So you need to fill in your gut and look towards doing it that way if that’s the way you feel but don’t just do it because you’re good at numbers.

Chris:             Yeah, because it is a logical game and if you don’t get that logic you’re going to have a massive HECS debt for nothing. You’re going to have a massive student loan for nothing.

[HECS is Higher Education Contribution Scheme – it is a government loan to students to help them pay their education]

Heather:        Sensational. Thank you very much, Chris, for talking with us today.

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