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1st November, 2023

Episode 9: Building a successful accounting practice

Constructing a successful accounting practice requires a combination of factors, including strong leadership, a dedicated team, and effective client relationships.

In this episode of Fiscal Therapy, Bradley Barnes and Laura Bey from Brentnalls SA, a progressive accounting practice in South Australia, share their insights and experiences in building a successful practice.

Brentnalls has experienced significant growth over the past 23 years, expanding from two partners and 17 staff to 13 owners and 85 staff.

This growth has provided opportunities for career advancement within the firm, allowing individuals like Bradley to progress from a senior role to becoming a partner.

As a partner, Bradley sees himself as a custodian of the business, responsible for continuing its growth and providing opportunities for others, such as Laura, to move up within the organisation.

Laura, who works in accounting and advisory at Brentnalls, plays a vital role in the backend of the practice. She handles tasks such as tax returns, end-of-year accounts, and management reporting, providing the necessary information for partners like Bradley to effectively serve their clients.

Undergrad program fuels practice growth

One of the key factors contributing to the growth of Brentnalls is their undergraduate program.

This program serves as a pipeline for bringing in new talent and expanding the firm’s capacity. By taking on some overcapacity in their undergraduate intake, Brentnalls ensures they have the resources to support their growing team of partners.

They typically take on between five and seven undergraduates each intake, providing them with the opportunity to gain practical experience and develop their skills.

The undergraduate program not only helps to fuel positions within the firm, but also builds a bit of excess capacity.

This allows Brentnalls to maintain a healthy work-life balance and avoid overworking their employees.

By being proactive rather than reactive, the firm can stay ahead of the game and ensure they’re prepared for growth.

By bringing in new talent and investing in development, the firm can expand capacity and maintain high levels of service.

The program also contributes to a better work-life balance, ensuring employees aren’t overworked.

By prioritising growth, maintaining client relationships, and nurturing talent, Brentnalls is well-positioned for long-term success in the accounting industry.

Recognition drives employee engagement

One important aspect of the firm’s success is its recognition and reward program, which drives employee engagement.

The firm has implemented the B-Extraordinary Award, which recognises employees who demonstrate the company’s core values, such as putting clients first, communication and integrity, a can-do attitude, and high performance.

The award is open to both professional and administrative staff, and nominations are collected quarterly. The entire team then votes on the winner, who receives an award and a voucher. Additionally, all nominees receive a voucher as well.

The B-Extraordinary Award serves as a platform to highlight the unseen contributions and achievements of employees.

It encourages employees to go above and beyond their regular duties and fosters a sense of camaraderie within the team.

The recognition not only boosts the morale of the recipient but also inspires other employees to strive for excellence.

Recognition drives employee engagement by creating a positive work environment and fostering a sense of belonging.

When employees feel valued for their contributions, they are more likely to be engaged and committed to their work.

Recognition also helps in building a strong company culture, where employees are encouraged to excel and support one another.

Programs like the B-Extraordinary Award help in breaking down organisational silos. The program provides an opportunity for employees to learn about and appreciate the work of their colleagues from different departments.

This cross-functional recognition enhances collaboration and teamwork within the firm.

Teamwork is essential

This episode emphasises the significance of teamwork in achieving success.

Both Brad and Laura acknowledge that their team at Brentnalls is the secret sauce that sets them apart. They highlight the importance of working together, asking questions, and learning from one another.

When a team can collaborate effectively and harmoniously, they are able to produce their best work for clients.

This recognition of the team’s collective efforts further emphasises the importance of teamwork in achieving goals and delivering high-quality services.

Brentnalls highlights the essential role of people and teamwork in its creation of a successful accounting practice.

The firm recognises the value of its employees and fosters a positive environment where individuals feel comfortable.

By prioritising teamwork, Brentnalls can deliver exceptional services to its clients. This service excellence serves as a reminder of the importance of recognising employees, as well as the power of collaboration.