An Insider’s Guide to Awesome Administrators

Good administrators, the ones who get things done before you have to ask, the ones who are meticulous and detailed yet friendly and fun, are as rare as hens’ teeth.  But if you find one… your business will skyrocket, as they are a very crucial part.

Not only are they the first face clients see when they come in the door, they are also behind the smooth running of any office environment.

As the practice manager of our office, I lead our administration team and I love my job!  We make the most of having a very strong admin team in our office, so our accountants can get on with what they do best – strategic planning, budgets and cash flow forecasts, and, of course, accounts! We take care making sure our office is clean and tidy. We enjoying making cups of tea and coffee for our clients and having a chat as they come in the door. We make sure our annual work is in so our accountants don’t need to worry about getting the work in but can focus on getting high quality work out the door to our clients. And we take pride in the relationships we get to build with our clients. Read More »

Succession planning for dummies

Why is advance succession planning so important?

An ageing population combined with the dynamic of younger generations who seem less motivated to acquire a business tests long held assumptions that our businesses will be our future superannuation.

SMEs need to focus on extracting the capital value of their business and with an increasing number of those businesses expected to come onto the market in the next few years we can expect the polarisation between the good and the bad to grow.

Good businesses will continue to sell and command a high price, whereas poor performing businesses will at best come under greater price pressure and at worst be unsaleable.

The ideal timetable for an effective succession plan is three to five years from initial plan through to final succession. In a perfect world we’d recommend a minimum of two years to prepare and in a sense groom the business for sale.

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Health and Safety Reform – Are you prepared for the changes?

Following on from the blog I wrote in the middle of last year, the Health and Safety Reform bill has just passed through Parliament and will come into effect on 4 April 2016.

You will have all heard the outcry from opposition politicians about high risk industries such as worm farms and mini golf while sheep and dairy farming are considered low risk. This has distracted attention a bit from the real purpose and impact of the new laws and how they will affect you.

Basically the implementation of the new regime will see more onus placed on people at every level of responsibility (in particular senior managers and company directors) who are required to understand and proactively manage health and safety in their workplace. There are now stronger penalties and wider enforcement tools for non-compliance.

I have gone through the Act and various articles including this summary from NZ Law Society on the implications and have tried to simplify them into a summary of the areas that everyone in business will need to be aware of.

This is not the complete Act so for further information about the legislation please go to Worksafe.

Who does the law apply to?

The new act widens the definitions of workplace and now applies to everyone who meets the new definition of a ‘Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking’ or a “PCBU”

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Running a great business

I spent a few days last month getting together with a group of colleagues who meet twice a year to work “on” our business’s. We’ve been getting together for 5 years now so we know each other very well. As one of them said “Its a bit like getting undressed together!”

Many Chartered Accountants call themselves “Accountants and business advisors”. To be honest, many of them have never really run a business themselves, or they have run a pretty sloppy one so I’m not really sure quite how they can advise their clients on how to.

I’ve been an owner of BW for over 20 years, and have many clients running small and medium businesses so I’ve gathered a bit of knowledge over the years.

Here are a few simple tips to running your business from me:
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People & Collaboration

We recently had an accounting firm from Auckland come and join us for a couple of days of team building, training and collaboration. The business owner and I are part of a group that get together a couple of times a year. We find this is a really helpful sharing of ideas exercise, so we thought why not extend this to the rest of the team in our practices? We consequently decided to get our whole teams together. Apart from it being a great social occasion and having great fun showing off our fabulous city it was really inspiring for everyone.

As a small business it’s often hard to keep up with new ways of doing things and bringing in new ideas. We’re both Chartered Accountancy businesses, so we do the same work, but our methods of doing that are quite different. We use different software or processes and slightly different systems. Each team member was able to have discussions with their contemporaries in the other team giving and receiving good ideas for making our jobs easier and to be more efficient.

We also had an external trainer come in and run some sessions for us. It’s really important to provide training to your team, but as a small business it can be expensive, but by joining with another small team we shared the cost but still had personalised training.

Everybody got so much out of it that we’re already planning a reciprocal visit next year.

Privacy Act

What safeguards do you have to ensure you maintain your clients Privacy and that your clients information doesn’t get into the wrong hands?

I am sure you all have better processes than the lawyer in last week’s paper who used the back of sensitive documents to photocopy information for sending to other clients! And that you have systems in place to avoid ACC style document mail outs. But systems and personnel change so it may be a good time to check your processes and review the requirements.

Here at BW we are all for recycling as much paper as possible but privacy is paramount and we are aware that a lot of the information we handle is for your eyes only. Rest assured your records and details are securely stored and we securely destroy all unwanted documents and don’t use client information for scrap. Our staff are all aware that information is sensitive and don’t divulge any of your details to others outside of BW unless you give permission.

Have you thought about the information you and your staff have access to? And have you discussed with them the unintended consequences that can come from casual conversations- many may not be aware that what is a normal conversation at work can really backfire in the wrong setting

Even with the best processes mistakes can happen. If you are on the receiving end of someone else’s error please think how you would like your information treated and resist the temptation to read it, contact the sender and either destroy it or return it as soon as possible.

To find out more about your responsibilities has some very good information and guidelines for processes as well as some examples of relevant situations.

If you have any concerns about your data or privacy please give us a call.