Two Prosperity Advisers listed among Australia’s Top 50 Financial Advisers in The Australian’s Deal Magazine

Prosperity Directors John Manuel and Gary Dean have both been listed among Australia’s top 50 financial advisers in the inaugural list of Australia’s top advisers by The Deal, the monthly business magazine in The Australian in conjunction with Barron’s, a US based financial publication.

John Manuel a Director and partner of Prosperity Advisers was ranked in 13th position, while Gary Dean Director and partner based in the Sydney office of Prosperity Advisers came in at 40th position. In speaking about the recognition, John Manuel says, “Our clients are dynamic. They are attracted to us due to our willingness to understand their financial needs intimately and to deliver tailored, strategic and ongoing advice.”

Gavin Fernando, Director Financial Services at Prosperity Advisers says, “This list celebrates the leaders in the financial advice sector and we are very proud to have two of our advisers listed among a pool of very high calibre personal financial experts. Both John and Gary are the best of the best and this recognition builds on the feedback we regularly receive from their clients about the positive experience of working with each of them.”

The purpose in undertaking to rank Australia’s top financial advisers is twofold, to provide the market with a selection of quality advisers and to establish a benchmark for a high stand of client care that all advisers can emulate.

About undertaking the survey, the organisers of the list, Barron’s says, “It is to cast a positive spotlight on the advisory business in Australia broadly, by highlighting a group of leading advisers as examples of the tremendous skill, passion, and acumen represented within the industry. Our goal will be to recognise excellence in wealth advisory and educate the investing public on the value of a talented adviser.”

The survey comprised 73 questions covering everything from the financial performance of the advisers’ practices to their credentials, education and charitable philanthropic work.

“At Prosperity we firmly believe that reaching your financial goals may not always mean making more money, but rather making smart decisions with what you have”, says Fernando.

The partners and staff at Prosperity congratulate John and Gary for achieving this remarkable recognition!

Find out more about the Barron’s survey and Australia’s Top 50 Advisers listing here.

Gavin Fernando is an Authorised Representative of Prosperity Wealth Advisers Pty Ltd (ABN 32 141 396 376) is part of the Prosperity Advisers Group and an Authorised representative of Hillross Financial Services Limited, Australian Financial Services Licensee 232705. This article contains information that is general in nature. It does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. Readers need to consider their own financial situation and needs before making any decisions based on this information.

Prosperity creates opportunities for professionals to thrive

Prosperity is delighted to be a finalist in this year’s Australian Accounting Awards across two categories.

It follows recent awards for excellence among our team – Hillross Adviser of the Year for Gary Dean and 2016 Rising Star of the Year for Alex Hardy. Siobhan Sellick has been announced as finalist for Partner of the Year while Prosperity’s Professional Development Program is also shortlisted for recognition at this year’s Australian Accounting Awards.

Staff feedback surveys tell us that what sets Prosperity Advisers Group apart from other firms is our collaboration, professionalism, learning culture and team ethos – especially the lengths that we go to make a difference for our clients and to support each other.

This recognition builds on firm and individual successes awarded in 2016. We have been recognised again for the contribution our people make in helping to create stronger financial futures for our clients.

In becoming a finalist for Partner of the Year, Siobhan Sellick consolidates her 20 years of business advisory, accounting and tax experience working closely with individual, family and business clients.

Siobhan says: “I like to spend time with my clients getting to know them well. I meet with a client’s team, partners, children and people who influence or rely upon them. Prosperity gives me the freedom to work with other teams and the time to get close to clients and their families. I am not restrained in my approach so that I can provide holistic solutions and not just piece meal advice.

Mentoring my team to go beyond traditional compliance accounting has reaped rewards for individuals who have stretched themselves and discovered new skills and knowledge. It’s a very satisfying part of being a Partner.”

The Professional Development Program award recognises achievement for innovation in program development, implementation and outcomes achieved. Prosperity’s Learning Organisation approach underpins how we engage with each other and how we work with clients. For us to be recognised as the Firm of the Future we are embracing technology, changing how and when we advise and engage with clients and reshaping how we build enduring client relationships.

HR Director, Tanya Craft said “Personal and career development is an important consideration when people join Prosperity and our program aims to address the balance between technical, personal and professional growth.”

Category winners will be announced on 26 May at a gala dinner in Sydney.

Senior appointments cap Prosperity’s Bumper New Year

Award winning financial advisory firm, Prosperity Advisers, welcomes new talent in Brisbane & Sydney.

Senior leadership additions in both Brisbane and Sydney heralds continued growth for the firm and new opportunities for Prosperity’s clients. Joining the firm’s director team is Michael Mahabeer, specialist internal auditor and risk adviser and Michael Bode, business and personal taxation specialist.

Speaking about the additions to Prosperity’s talent line up, Chief Executive and Founder Allan McKeown says “The calibre of our directors is testament to the quality of work we undertake for our varied clients. Without quality clients and exciting and challenging work we would not be able to get the attention of candidates like our two newest directors. I’m excited to see the impact that our new starters will have on our clients and team.”

Michael Mahabeer boasts an impressive track record in senior leadership positions across internal audit and risk management. He led the transformation of the internal audit function at a large government owned corporation in Queensland and has held previous senior roles with Suncorp and PwC. Michael is an internal audit expert with specific knowledge and technical competency of the public and finance sectors. 

Michael Bode specialises in providing advice on Australia’s complex tax system for corporates, businesses and individuals. Having previously been director for many years in the tax consulting division of a global accounting firm, Michael has considerable experience advising on all aspects of taxation for international inbound corporate entities and high wealth private client groups, including mid-cap and family owned businesses. Michael is known for his straight-forward approach and skill at translating complex matters into every-day language.

These appointments capped an outstanding year for Prosperity. The firm picked up three industry awards; moved into fresh new workplaces in Sydney and Brisbane; and launched our Future Thinkers Program and Business Advisory Academy to ensure our people are ‘future fit’ for a fast changing professional environment.

Prosperity Wealth’s Gary Dean recognised as ‘Most Trusted Adviser’, securing Adviser of the Year Award from Hillross Financial Services

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“To me this is the most important aspect of a financial adviser – someone who can take all the stress of managing the money on my behalf and at the same time be able to convey to me the knowledge and confidence to rest easy about the decisions I make.” Client, 2016

Prosperity Wealth Advisers is delighted to confirm that Gary Dean, Associate Director, has secured the prestigious Hillross Financial Services award for Adviser of the Year. Highly sought after, this award recognises not only the expertise which Gary brings to his dealings with clients and the industry, but the depth and meaning with which his clients view their relationship with Gary.

Allan McKeown, CEO and Founder of Prosperity Advisers Group says, “In helping our clients to create stronger financial futures, Gary has secured a position with his clients which is based on trust, mutual respect, genuine care, and of course, excellence. We are very proud to have Gary Dean as part of the Prosperity Wealth family and are delighted that his hard work, knowledge, abilities and passion for his clients has been publicly recognised.”

Independent client research through the Beddoes Institute was instrumental in deciding the award winner as was demonstrating a commitment to ongoing excellence in providing personal financial advice, robust and high quality advice processes and a clear and demonstrable passion for clients.

At the ceremony Prosperity Wealth Advisers was also recognised for a further year as a leading advice practice securing its status as member of the Elite Strategist Group among Hillross licensed financial advice firms.

Speaking about the award Gary Dean says, “To me it’s simple, I get to know my clients as individuals. Providing financial advice is personal and that’s the approach I take. Working with my clients gives me incredible satisfaction, I highly value my interaction with them and the trust they place in me and Prosperity. I am very grateful and humbled that my clients provided such great feedback which contributed to winning this award.”

For more information, please contact: Anne Adams (02) 8262 8718

SMEs: Who are the winners this year?

(First published in Business First Magazine – December 16)

Christmas is almost upon us and business owners will be shifting their focus to planning for 2017.  Let’s take a look at the highlights for 2016 and how they lead into key themes for 2017.

The budget of uncertainty

The Turnbull government’s May 2016 budget was widely flagged as a step in the right direction for small business. However, the proceeding lag time in policy implementation and uncertainty around superannuation policy has seen many SMEs simply “tune out” to how these changes affect them or their business.

Business owners should keep these in mind:

  • Reduction to the small business company tax rate down to 27.5% from 1 July 2016 – applicable to business with up to $10M turnover.
  • Other tax benefits opened to many businesses within the $2 and $10 million turnover band including simplified depreciation and trading stock rules
  • Tax offset of up to $1,000 for individuals carrying on business via a trust, partnership or sole trading.
  • No change to eligibility threshold for small business CGT concessions.
  • Small business restructure tax concessions made available to family groups

The bad news for SMEs was to be at the personal retirement level with super flagged for retrospective policy, restricted thresholds and months of uncertainty in policy.  While a backflip on the $500,000 retrospective lifetime non-concessional cap was announced in September the main superannuation policy announcements from the budget look set to become law from 1 July 2017, these include:

  • $1.6 million transfer balance for super pensions
  • Removal of the transition to retirement pension tax exemption
  • Reduction in the concessional cap to $25,000 annually and non-concessional to $100,000 annually
  • Lowering of the threshold for the additional 15% super contribution tax from $300,000 to $250,000

Business highlights as of November

The key 2016 highlights we hear from business owners on a day to day basis come from outside the tax sphere.

Low Interest Funding

Access to low interest business goodwill and asset funding has clearly been a key winner for business in 2016 –especially businesses that were able to capitalise on the low rates. We have seen many cases where the major banks have shown high degrees of flexibility on rates in order to retain and win new business – while this was not always on the first approach, it pays to be persistent.

New tools to monitor your business

We have also seen a shift in openness to technologies and new streamlined processes.  Business owners now have access to apps and software that are affordable, giving them a comprehensive and real time view of their trading results and cash flow position.  Business owners who previously preferred traditional methods are beginning to realise that they must adapt or be left behind.

Innovation

Business operating in the innovation field fared well during 2016 with a range of policies and grants delivered to foster innovation.  The commercialisation of innovative products and services continues to be an area of growth with ongoing rounds of funding and tax incentives.  One of the most generous of the concessions is the Early Stage Innovation Company (ESIC) tax concession which provides investors with a rebate of 20% on their investment and the ability to disregard capital gains for assets sold within 10 year.

On the radar for 2017

The 2017 landscape for SMEs will continue to present challenges.  SMEs will need to be focused and savvy when it comes to steering their business in a winning direction.

Business Planning is Key

The top concern keeping business owners awake at night in 2016 was business planning (or lack thereof).  With research showing that 72% of business owners don’t have a business plan. Too many owners are concentrating on day to day operations and either don’t have the time, skills or support to focus on long term planning and growth.

Given the tools available to SMEs, 2017 will see in app based resources, there is no longer any excuse to shy away from strategic business planning and ongoing monitoring.  Benchmarking, industry averages and real time comparative data is readily available and should be put to work. 

People & processes – get these right and ease your stress

As engage with remote employees or “gig” workers, processes will need to be dynamic and streamlined.  Focusing on new ways of working along with smarter processes will be a key theme of 2017 and can also help ease the stress levels for business owners.

Stress and Lifestyle concerns rose from #5 in the 2015 SME research report to #3 in 2016.  The majority hold a belief that their business can’t operate without them. To avoid burnout and missing out on family time business owners should invest focus in this area. Cloud based tools that allow time away from the business without compromising connectivity can also be a useful planning tool for business owners.

Actively managing cash

The record low borrowing rates of 2016 can’t last indefinitely and cash should always be a key focus for business.  Most businesses that fail still do so because of cash flow issues.

In 2017, we recommend using KPIs, benchmarks and cash flow planning apps to make cash management a priority for your business. Once you’ve harnessed your cash flow you can take advantage of business opportunities when they arise.

SME Owners to plan for Financial Freedom

Close-up of a women hand typing laptop keypad from representing the concept of business graph in front of blackboard.

Financial independence, key person risk and being too busy to grow their business are some of the most common stresses facing SME businesses in Australia today.

Formal business planning is squarely in the ‘too hard basket’ for many business leaders (72%) and this is holding them back when it comes to financial independence, growth and financing, and planning for retirement – with many SMEs without a retirement date and no succession plan (90%), or worse, they don’t know what income and assets they need at retirement (88%).

So says a comprehensive face to face study conducted over 12 months with more than 500 SME business leaders.

To access the research report findings and commentary please contact us on 02 4907 7222.

Why aren’t businesses doing strategic planning for growth?  We found 66% of participants in this study are too busy working in their business with no time to work on their business.

Here are some key business planning tips for SMEs, across the key areas of Strategy, People, Processes & Cash, to take the mystery out of planning and to help business leaders to take charge.

1) Everything is relative – Even if you do planning – how do you know it’s going to work?  Benchmarks are fundamental indicators of success and without knowing how your business and activity currently performs against other SMEs, you could be flying blind. Ask your adviser about helping you with benchmarking your business against others.

2) What are you solving for?  You need to determine what your end game is – where are you going and why? What do you need to get there? What’s holding you back? What does your vision look like in terms of what you sell, to whom, when, where and how.

3) Do you have the processes and systems in place to implement a plan? Identify your key processes, highlight what needs to change to grow where and how you want, then develop the processes and enlist your team to troubleshoot and own them.

4) How much money do you need? Revenue for cashflow, profit target, capital for growth. How much is enough and what’s the best sources of finance for your business? What do you need to secure it?  How healthy is your credit history?  All of these factors are important if you are looking to secure outside investors or fund your growth through debt. Your accountant can help you to put sums around your plans.

5) Do you have the right skills and experience in-house to implement a plan? If not, where can you find them?  Do they need to be in-house or can you use a virtual CFO, marketing team or cloud accounting solution? If you need experienced resources for sales or development then what will it take to get them and how much will it cost?

6) Have you thought about what it will take to align your staff so you can get the 1+1=3 effect? Make sure you have champions for each aspect of your plan or it will fail. Hold people accountable through alignment and integrating the plan into every day activity. Do you need a reward system to get the best out of your staff? Something simple may not cost you a lot of money but could create a step change in your business culture.

7) What are your indicators for success?  Every plan needs to have indicators of success and clear timelines. These help form KPIs for your team and will demonstrate outcomes to investors and owners when the time comes.

8) Reassess and refocus. Use real time financial and management reporting to steer incremental change. Cloud Accounting solutions are your go to. Set yourself a timeline for assessing success periodically and refocus where you need to in real time. Cash flow is king regardless of the size of your business. Don’t let your focus on expansion blind you to the need for strong cash flow and money in the bank.

There is always plenty to think about when you run your own business. Sharing the load with a trusted adviser will help you to put perspective on your vision as well as reality around your plans. A Board of Advice is a term used widely when it comes to business advisory and it can be a useful step for you to consider if financial freedom is your goal. Enlisting a structured Board of Advice with those who you trust to give you honest and informed insight could mean the difference between feeling stressed by the treadmill, and seeing your vision blossom.

Prosperity Advisers Recognised Globally for Technology Innovation

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This month in Shanghai, China Prosperity Advisers Group was privileged to receive a global award for Internal Technology Innovation of the Year. This highly competitive award recognises the achievements of Prosperity Advisers Group in technology and how the firm has embraced new ways of doing things to support its team internally and in connecting with clients. The award judging panel was chaired by US based professional services technology scion, Gary Boomer.

The prestigious award is part of an annual excellence program led by the Leading Edge Alliance (LEA) – an association of 200+ independent accounting and financial advisory firms from around the world across 620 offices in 106 countries.

Accepting the award on behalf of the Prosperity team, CEO Allan McKeown said “This award is testament to the dedication of Prosperity’s team, and seeing the work of Australian advisory firms recognised on the world stage is tremendous! Today our staff and clients expect accounting and financial advisers to have the latest technology and to quickly embrace emerging systems and cloud based solutions. The technology we developed which is the basis of this important award is the cornerstone of our practice because it is our client relationship and intelligence ‘hub’. Clients are the lifeblood of our firm and how we work with them through our people and technology to deliver smart solutions is what sets us apart.”

Also in Shanghai to celebrate the award win and to participate in international tax sessions with other LEA firms was Prosperity Director, Siobhan Sellick who says, “Technology is integral to the success of the accounting and advisory firm of the future. Prosperity Advisers is at the forefront of the push to embrace smart technology and software that will help us to serve our clients better, so they too can better compete and win in their respective fields. We are very proud to be recognised on a global scale for these achievements.”

The conference included working sessions on how professional firms across the world can share best practice initiatives for the benefit of our clients. Naturally, there was also a strong Chinese flavour that unmasked emerging opportunities from this economic powerhouse.

This award continues a string of accolades for the firm. Prosperity Advisers has recently taken out the NSW/ACT Accounting Partner of the Year Award from Xero, and was further recognised as finalist in two categories at the Australian Accounting Awards – Diversified Firm of the Year and for emerging leader Alex Hardy who was awarded Rising Star of the Year.

How outsourcing can drive efficiencies in your Medical Practice

Businessman using a calculator to calculate the numbers

In recent months we have experienced a lot of interest among medical practices looking to fully ‘outsource’ their medical accounting tasks, resulting in improved time management for practice staff and more time for their patients.

We are now seeing the focus being shifted from ‘lost time’ (administrative functions such as manual bookkeeping, payroll processing and other accounting tasks) to better ‘productive time’ with more focus on practice management, patient care, performance, future growth and forward planning.

Why consider outsourcing?

There are some very good reasons to consider outsourcing in your practice. Before embarking on any outsourcing program, you should consider the root causes, or underlying reasons, why inefficiency may be present within your practice. By doing this first, you can then consider the type and extent of outsourcing which is right for you and your team.

Some questions to ask to see whether outsourcing might be right for your practice include:

  • Are general administrative functions such as payroll processing, bookkeeping and other general accounting tasks taking up valuable hours which could be used for more meaningful practice management?
  • Do you experience frequent staff changes resulting in increased training costs and lost time?
  • Are you finding it a challenge to keep up to date with constant changes in ‘medical-accounting’ regulations?
  • Is managing software changes, renewal costs and training updates an issue?
  • Are you experiencing increases in quarterly or annual bookkeeping costs?
  • Are you spending many hours outside of work completing accounting tasks?
  • Are you finding it hard to review practice profits, performance and future growth plans?
  • Are you doing the bare minimum to get by without really taking notice of the data and what your financial results are telling you?

Burning the midnight oil is a common trend faced by many practitioners and this impacts on the quality of work delivered due to fatigue and stress.

Practice managers, doctors and other key staff sometimes face frustration in having to do so many tasks in very limited time without being fully resourced or trained sufficiently. This, in addition to their respective individual daily tasks, can result in high turnover from dissatisfied staff and disharmony within the practice.

What to consider when outsourcing

Finding efficiency in lost time is a key area of focus to improving overall business efficiency.

We recommend you review your internal time and costs versus a one-off monthly or quarterly outsourcing cost to assist you with making the right choice. The costs of system upgrades, office space, training, supplies, salaries and benefits of a full time equivalent employee all add up over time.

Some of the common medical-accounting tasks that can easily be outsourced include preparation of:

  • Monthly bookkeeping including
    • Bank reconciliations
    • Ensuring data flows linking from practice software
    • Entering supplier invoices
    • Coordinating supplier payments
  • Monthly management accounts to give you a snapshot of your business performance
  • Monthly payroll for staff and superannuation management
  • Monthly calculation of payments to contracting doctor/s
  • Lodgement of monthly/ quarterly Business Activity Statements
  • Reviews and advice of your business affairs if live data is available
  • Quarterly performance updates and tax savings estimates
  • Annual payroll reconciliation and reporting including preparing end of year PAYG Payment Summary Statements

Plus support by email and phone throughout the year on any accounting or tax issues.

Improving practice efficiency by outsourcing some or all of these tasks will free up more time during work hours for practice managers and doctors to focus on the business strategies that can help the practice to prosper.

If you are interested in reviewing the outsourcing opportunities for your practice, you can contact your Prosperity Health adviser to discuss the options available.

Paving the way for women in finance

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We all know there is a large gender gap in the finance and accounting sector. A recent report showed that in financial institutions, women are holding only 19% of senior positions, 14% of board seats, and a shocking 2% of CEO roles.

Many firms are struggling to reach appropriate levels of diversity, even though gender-diverse workplaces have been shown to perform better. While this gap has been shrinking in recent years, it is still an issue when looking at leadership positions. At Prosperity Advisers, you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at our senior roles. Over 47% of our leadership team are women.  We sit squarely within the finance sector, and hold a total staff count of 60% women.

We have celebrated rapid growth within the company across our offices in Sydney, Newcastle and Brisbane. With this growth, there has been a strategic shift in management and staffing requirements. Prosperity is proud of our eight recent internal promotions, of which five went to women within the company – from accounting to the management team to Human Resources. The current promotions will bring the leadership team to almost 50% female.

Chief Executive, Allan McKeown said, “Our goal at Prosperity has always been to foster an environment that supports the growth and involvement of our people. We provide challenging professional experiences and deliver the right tools and support to assist our people to drive their careers forward.”

We are proud to have created a working environment in the financial sector that builds women and men up equally. Our unique work environment fosters the growth of the individual and business together.

One of the recipients of the new internal promotions is Kelly Chard. Kelly has elevated from the Business Services and Tax team to become a new Associate Director. Having worked for the firm for 10 years, Kelly is a role model to others, representing Prosperity’s equal love for mentoring others and promoting the firm’s vision.

Kelly’s career has evolved over time: “At the start of my career I thought a great accountant would just get the numbers right or find the best tax outcome. With the internal training and mentoring through Prosperity I was able to extend this mindset and focus on getting to know my clients on a more personal level so that I now advise them in far broader areas including growth planning, managing their time efficiently and financially protecting their families.”

Stephanie McCauley is another great example of the career diversity evident in Prosperity. Having worked for the firm for many years, Stephanie initially started in administration, and then moved through marketing before landing in Human Resources. She has just been promoted to Manager within the HR team. She was able to test her strengths and support our growth plans across many different departments. Highly capable, Stephanie has earned her promotion through dedication and a strong work ethic.

Katrina Brooker has been promoted to Team Leader within the firm’s Smart Drive group. Her expertise and management prowess ensures efficiency and high quality service to our clients. Kerry Kreutzer in the SMSF team has been promoted to Supervisor, and Ashley Read from our Outsourced Payroll team has been promoted to Payroll Officer. These promotions show the range and extent to which we are dedicated to raising all of our employees to their best potential selves.

When considering where to work, flexibility is a big part of the equation for professionals in today’s world. Prosperity strives to make this possible for both women and men. Kelly said, “I’ve worked part time and at times remotely to juggle my study and family commitments during my time with Prosperity which has been really important to me and my family.”

Prosperity’s Director of Human Resources, Tanya Craft says “the right cultural fit is integral to our success. We have clearly articulated our Prosperity DNA so we closely align values and beliefs with those of our team and prospective team. This alignment supports our high standards of performance and ethics and a strong culture of learning, development and achievement.”

Women are thriving in all offices at Prosperity Advisers, proving that the gender gap within the financial sector will hopefully soon be a problem of the past.

International Players are not just for Professional Sport!

Alex Bol

International transfers or secondments for accountants are nothing new. But as attraction and retention of quality staff is one of the top 5 challenges of the profession, international secondments are an increasingly important component of a firm’s HR strategy.

Step aside Jarryd Hayne, accountants are the new sports stars when it comes to international transfers. As Alex Hardy, Senior Manager at the Prosperity Advisers Group explains, there are as many benefits to firms and clients as there are to the individual at the centre of the transfer.

Having recently returned from a secondment to Prosperity’s affiliate, Bol Adviseurs in the Netherlands, I have seen first-hand the benefits to both firms. The thought of being paid to travel overseas appeals to every professional at some stage in their career, however international secondments have traditionally been on a case-by-case basis, infrequent and carried out by the larger firms. Times have changed. Through Prosperity’s membership of the Leading Edge Alliance (LEA), the frequency of secondments appears to be increasing. Just this month, Prosperity will welcome two colleagues from Burr Pilger Mayer (BPM), San Francisco and we have fielded a number of other expressions of interest in secondments during the 2017 peak audit season.

So why the sudden rise in popularity?

Firms committed to evolving into the “Firm of the Future” understand the need for innovation across their business. In an industry that sells advice, attracting and retaining quality professionals must be central to any business strategy.

The benefits

  • Scaling of the local work-force during periods of peak demand

For Australian accounting firms, the peak audit season typically runs from July to October each year. In the past, firms have often relied on contract labour or driving increased output from existing resources. There are a number of challenges with both of these approaches. Contract staff are often not incentivised to deliver on client outcomes leading to a poor client experience whereas overworking existing staff may lead to burnout and decreasing team morale. Secondments can also assist with solving local skill shortages.

  • Boost to local team morale and outcomes for clients

A secondee’s interaction within their new team encourages learning across cultural boundaries. Sharing experiences is always fun and provides motivation to the secondee and local team. Development of communication skills and adapting to new working environments provides a different form of team engagement. When teams are engaged they usually produce better outcomes for clients!

  • Impress clients and demonstrate the firm’s commitment to a global footprint

For firms that don’t have a recognised global brand, bringing an international secondee to client meetings demonstrates the firm’s commitment to being a truly global business. My interaction with an international client based out of Ireland during my stint in the Netherlands was really well received and a valuable experience for all involved.

  • Improving the local team’s language skills

English dominates as the language of choice for the international business community. Countries where English may not be the first language usually are seeking to improve their language skills. Placing a native English speaking secondee into a non-English team will encourage all staff to practice their English on a daily basis and likewise the secondee will learn or develop their own language skills. Better communication will also lead to better client experiences for firms with international clients.

  • Development of firm systems and methodologies

Firms generally compare systems and methodologies at conferences and seminars, but this often occurs at Partner level. Understanding and comparing methodologies at other career levels on-the-job creates additional opportunities for teams to immediately implement efficiencies or enhancements which drive better outcomes.

  • Attraction and retention of quality staff

Keeping staff engaged and innovating is a must for all firms. Constantly competing for the best talent in the market is a priority for accounting firms and firms like Prosperity who recognise the value of international secondments will continue to have it as part of their HR arsenal. If done well, the ability to keep staff learning and engaged plus broadening their personal international networks in an increasingly globalised business environment helps to attract and retain the best talent.

  • Facilitate client engagements across geographies

Importantly, there is also the potential for new relationships with clients of the other firm should they be active or considering expansion to the secondee’s home country. Facilitating advisory relationships across borders becomes smoother with the familiarity that working shoulder to shoulder provides.

Things to consider!

Select the right team members to be involved:

  • Will the employee best represent the firm?
  • Has the employee experienced overseas travel previously?
  • Does their skill set provide opportunities for the other firm?
  • Are they a confident communicator?

Get the right people involved in making it happen:

  • Encourage the HR leaders from both firms to build a relationship to ensure the secondment is seamless.
  • Ensure there is adequate on-boarding for work and team building but also living arrangements, getting around and integrating with the host Country.

Working visas:

  • These are often not difficult to obtain between most OECD countries.
  • Some up front commitment will be required to assess each specific jurisdiction.
  • Leverage each firm’s HR resources for the best outcomes.

Accommodation:

  • Depending on the length of the secondment, services such as AirBNB may offer a solution should a local host be unavailable.
  • The remuneration of the employee may need to be negotiated during their secondment to factor in the difference in living costs between countries.

International secondments significantly add to the secondee’s professional and personal development, they are fun and the benefits to both firms involved shouldn’t be underestimated. Smart firms are increasingly taking advantage of this strategy and providing exciting opportunities for their staff and business.

Thank you very much for your enthusiasm, professionalism and open mind. You have been a real “asset” and inspiration for Bol.

Pascal Graat (Managing Partner, Bol Adviseurs)