Goals or Resolutions - what's the difference?

2019 has now clicked over, and we're nearly at the end of the first month! So the question is, did you set any new year resolutions? Or perhaps you set yourself or your business some new goals? What's the difference you might ask! Resolution means a firm decision to do or not to do something. Whereas the definition of a goal is the object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result. Resolutions don't necessarily allow for actions to achieve them; instead, they are more of a statement.

For so many people resolutions are unmet, long-term, vague, or sometimes unrealistic statements, e.g. I just decided that I’m going to join a gym this year. It’s just too hard to maintain our motivation with this type of statement. This diminished enthusiasm is probably one of the main reasons research shows that more than 80% of New Year’s resolutions are broken.

When we speak with clients one of the fundamental things were are trying to discover is what your goals are not your new year resolutions! By understanding what your goals are in life, business and/or retirement we can start to create a tailored plan to help you achieve those goals.

The word goal has more of a sense of being a specific target that is realistically achievable within a defined amount of time. A goal requires action! A goal, by definition, requires a conscious intention to do something. Sometimes goals can be achieved alone, but most of the time they need some help, planning and advice on the best way to achieve them.

We know that for goals to be achieved they need to have some action steps, be measurable, attractive [otherwise we won't be motivated to achieve them!], specific and have a deadline attached to them.

Every day we ask clients what their goals are; what it is that they want to achieve so we thought we'd share some of our goals with you; goals that you can keep us accountable for! We know that one of the secrets to success in achieving your goals is to share them, so here goes!

Brian McPhail
Catching up more with friends by arranging lunches every fortnight together.
Visiting our daughter in Oxford in July.
Help organise the volunteers for the Presidents Cup Golf in December.

Wayne Durdin
To declutter.
Having recently moved (downsized) I now have boxes of things that I have not seen or used in years & need to decide what to keep, what to donate & what to throw out by April 2019.

Matthew Drew
To turn back the clock and run another half marathon by following a 12-week running plan by March 2019.

Andrew Beltramello
Build a deck in the backyard by July 2019.

Rebecca Rosario
Increasing the days I volunteer to two days a week next year.
Recommence dance classes once a week.
Connect more with relatives by catching up with them at least once a month.

Monika Murti
Design and renovate the laundry area by June 2019.

Stephen Howard
Travel to Italy by July 2019 and win a cricket premiership by March 2019.

Lewis Morgan
My 2019 goals are to increase my knowledge surrounding accounting topics and improve my efficiency and accuracy when completing tasks at work.

Prisca Languila
By saving $200 every fortnight and go back to Mauritius by December 2019.

Louise Davey
Travel to New Zealand by July 2019.

Chathu DeSilva
To get ripped 6 pack abs by September 2019 by exercising at least 4 times a week and by eating healthy at least 5 days a week.

As you can see our goals are very personal to each of us, but there is definitely a common theme or two!

Goals don't need to be complicated, but they do need to be written down, shared and worked towards otherwise they are just a dream!

Do you have a new goal that we don't know about yet that we can help you achieve? Perhaps you know someone who could benefit from our advice and support? Please feel free to contact us.


How to successfully work with family by John Anderson

Working alongside your Father could send some people into a nervous spin but for John Anderson, Advisor, Bell Potter Securities, it is an ideal work situation.

This month we sat down with John, which given he’s just had his first child was an amazing achievement in itself, to learn how he’s managed to work with his Father, Stuart, and what success in business looks like for him. Thank you, John.

  1. John, you work with your Father in the business, that is such a beautiful thing however not everyone could work with a family member. How do you make it work?

Yes, it would appear on the outside that it should or could be somewhat challenging to work together, however, Stuart, and I have had a very positive experience. I am 33 years old, and we have always had a solid and close relationship since I was young which may have stemmed from the fact that we were the only two boys in the family. (I have twin sisters, and therefore Dad and I were always outnumbered). We have always had many common interests especially sport and in particular golf.

When it comes to our professional relationship, it has been a fantastic experience. We are very good at communicating with each other and Stuart is an excellent mentor. Stuart has operated in the share market for the past five decades, and I am very open to learning from his experiences.

  1. What piece of advice has your Father given you over the years that still resonates with you today?
  • Professionally – ‘Invest in yourself’, and the best investment you can make is in your abilities. Work hard, and anything you can do to develop your skills (education) or business is highly recommended.
  • Personally – ‘Go Dees’

It is fair to say the first piece of advice has been far more successful although I haven’t given up hope on the Melbourne FC just yet.

  1. Learning from our older generations is one of the best things we can do both personally and professionally; what are the three top things you have learned from your Father about the way in which to do business with others?
  • Honesty/integrity
  • Loyalty
  • Hard Work
  1. Bell Potter is one of Australia’s largest full-service stockbrokers and a leading advice business; when you are out and about, and people ask you, “What do you do?” What do you say?

I outline what our firm does and what we do individually as Stockbrokers. Bell Potter is a member of Bell Financial Group which is a listed company on the ASX. We offer a full range of services to private, corporate and institutional clients and we pride ourselves on the quality of advice we give. We have access to quality research which covers top ASX listed companies and have expanded more recently into international research. We have a variety of ways of managing a client’s account to be most suited to the client. On top of this service, Stuart is also a qualified Chartered Accountant, and I am a qualified Financial Planner combined with a Commerce degree.  So while we operate as Stockbrokers, we can also offer sound, personal financial advice in a number of areas which provide significant benefit to the client.

  1. What keeps you awake at night [other than your newborn baby!] from a work perspective?

I sleep soundly knowing that I have done the best for my client although a volatile share market does, sometimes, make me toss and turn.

  1. Five years from now, what will your business look like?

Our business will be similar to that of today. Clients will still require quality advice, and we will strive to increase our knowledge, services and accessibility to meet their needs.

  1. Attracting and retaining clients is a crucial priority for any business; what strategies have worked for your company?
  • Honesty
  • Hard Work
  • Client Contact - Meeting our clients face to face- I think its fundamental that we meet face to face with clients, whether it be in the office or elsewhere, I believe we should be in a position to give clients our time, given they entrust us with their money
  1. Bell Potter has had a very long and prosperous professional relationship with McPhail & Partners; what is it about the McPhail’s business and the team that Bell Potter has enjoyed the most?

Bell Potter and McPhail’s have compatible cultures, and we find that McPhail’s excel in their professional, personal and caring approach to clients.

  1. How will technology impact your business?

I welcome the advancements in technology into our business, and it can only enhance our client's welfare. Increased quality and speed of knowledge will if handled correctly, improve advice to clients.

Thank you, John and best of luck as a Father yourself!


Business success tips with Peter Sheppard, HFW Australia

HFW is a global law firm with over 500 lawyers worldwide. Matthew Drew, Director, McPhail & Partners, has worked closely with the Australian business for many years. We sat down with their Country Manager, Peter Sheppard to learn the secrets of a successful law firm.

 

  1. Peter, the Australian office has doubled revenue in the last five years. That is a tremendous achievement, congratulations. What has driven that revenue growth?

We have experienced strong client demands for us to increase our capabilities in our selected six sectors across all our three offices.

To stay in Australia's highly competitive legal market where you compete with not just boutique firms, but also large international players, it is important to offer a strong value proposition and client-focused service.

Over the last five years, we have focused on growing by recruiting and promoting the right talent, rather than focusing on numbers.  This has enabled us to strengthen our offering in our six sectors.

The firm continues to invest in the Australian practice and our plans over the next 3 to 4 years are to have another period of double digit growth.

  1. Finding the right staff to support that type of growth can be a challenge in Australia. What has been HFW’s recruitment strategy?

To identify the best talent available and give them the opportunity to flourish alongside the best practitioners in the sectors we practice in.

  1. As Country Manager, your role is extremely broad, and I’m sure a busy one. What keeps you awake at night?

I never stop thinking about how to make HFW the best legal practice in the world!

I want our people to be proud of who we are and the work that we provide for our clients.  We encourage our staff to challenge themselves – think of creative solutions for our clients.

We want our staff to actively think of new and innovative ways to deliver the best value to our clients.

  1. HFW is a global law firm. How does Australia perform against the other countries regarding innovation and performance?

We definitely punch above our weight! Our Australian practice is agile and always growing, and our leaders are constantly looking for ways to be creative in an ever-changing industry.

We have collaborative discussions with our other offices and work together to find the best solutions for global and local initiatives.

  1. How do you manage the culture in the Australian office so that it supports the global brand but has a local feel?

We have many of our local leaders sitting on various global boards and business initiative groups within the firm, so we understand the firm's strategic objectives from a global perspective and we can adapt this to our local and regional nuances.

  1. More and more businesses are allowing [and in some cases asking] their employees to work from home. How has HFW responded to this shift in work practices?

I am actually responding to you from home today! We are sensitive to people's lifestyles and are responsive to requests for altered work arrangements.

For example, we have a Sydney-lawyer working remotely from Tasmania.

  1. How does HFW ensure that its employees are engaged and motivated every day?

A mentor of mine once said, "you cannot motivate people, but you can create an environment where people can motivate themselves."

By creating a collaborative culture, rewarding people for their efforts, keeping people informed of what is happening around the firm and ensuring people have the resources they need to carry out their work best, we have created that environment.

  1. How is technology changing the legal profession?

Technology is enabling firms to provide a more effective and efficient way of doing business. It enables us to further help our clients solve their business problems.

  1. Ten years from now, how do you think the landscape will look for graduates leaving university?

I would like to think that the landscape for future graduates is bright as firms keep up with client demands which is allowing people to be more creative by exploring new technologies and alternate methods of service delivery.

This could open up a greater variety of opportunities than we have seen historically with your traditionally conservative law firm.

We would like to thank Peter for sharing his thoughts and insights into business success.

To read more about HFW, click here to visit their website.

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The Rise of Part-Time Executive Solutions

The way in which we work is fundamentally changing. Have you noticed?

Roles are changing, reporting lines are changing, technology is driving efficiencies; everywhere you look in business today things are changing. In this article Chris Baring-Gould explains the trend towards outsourcing C-Suite [Executive] functions and what that means to businesses and their future.

  1. Why do you think we’ve seen a rise in outsourced part-time resource solutions?

This is a great question.  The answer, I believe, is driven by society’s constant progress towards sophistication in the way we live and work.  The two key drivers are the increasing use of technology and the specialisation of labour.  Technological progress increases productivity, which in simple term means it replaces the mundane, repetitive work that we humans once performed.  As society and work become more sophisticated, we become specialised provider of skills.

As a result, we find businesses can now acquire specialised human skills for a particular time frame. Skills and specialised labour then, become resources in a “just-in-time” economy that operates continuously, hence giving rise to the trend of outsourcing what is “not core to a business”.  The trend in accounting now is towards “continuous accounting”, not a fast end-of-month close in 1 day, but a financial close every day, so that a business can access its financials in real time and instantaneously.

  1. If a business is interested in offering a part-time resource solution what is the best way to work out the pricing?

There is no such thing as a “right price”, as price settles on the demand and supply of a product or service.  However, there are some common-sense guidelines.  Businesses are also prepared to pay a premium for on-demand quality services.  When you combine an on-demand service with something that is of value to your clients, i.e. your point of difference to others, you can price your service at a premium to market.

  1. What is your advice about managing conflicts of interest between clients, for example, working for 2 clients who are competing with one other?

Be upfront and honest with both your clients and tell them that you cannot advise them in certain areas where conflicts of interest arise.   You may even have to consider declining an engagement with one client in order to protect your integrity and avoid all doubt of conflicts of interest.

  1. What are the benefits to businesses of having access to an external business resource, for example, a CFO?

SMEs, in general, cannot afford full-time CFOs until they become large enough and have the activity and complexity to need one. Our experience at the CFO Centre is that SMEs up to $50 million in revenue turnover do not need a full-time CFO.   A part-time CFO makes financial and business sense to SMEs, as they are getting the experience and skills of a finance executive for a fraction of a full-time CFO.  All SMEs have growth ambitions, and at some stage of their journey, business owners want to exit their businesses at valuations that are many multiples of their investments.  Part-time CFOs can help business owners plan and achieve their business and wealth creation ambitions during this time, provided there is sufficient time to implement these plans.

  1. Can a business outgrow their need for an external resource, for example, a CFO?

Yes, it can.  When a business becomes large and complex and requires an executive to exercise a finance leadership role regularly, this is when you know you’ll need a full-time CFO.

  1. What other functions are suitable for a business to outsource?

In professional services, just about anything, from HR, IT, marketing, legal, and yes, even C-suite executives.  The professional outsourcing trend in America is moving towards the 60% of the C-suite workforce.  Work then becomes portfolio and project-based, that is, you service many clients as a portfolio rather than work for one employer.  This gives the business the flexibility to expand and contract its workforce in line with market conditions.

  1. We’ve seen some fundamental changes recently so what's next? 

This is a hot topic that is currently unfolding.  I believe as professional services providers, we’ll need to become more flexible and sensitive to fulfilling the needs of our clients.   I also believe we’ll need to collaborate with other outsourced professions working on the same client project, which can be challenging for project leaders!  Working from home, or really anywhere, will become the norm.

I believe business will evolve to a “hub” and spoke model – core business at the hub, and spokes for non-core support infrastructure.   Think about your smartphone. If you have an Apple or Samsung, the apps on your phone are created by independent app providers to both Apple and Samsung.  This is specialisation at its best.  Apple and Samsung provide the technological platform (their core business) for the apps to work on their phones.  They don’t have to own the apps or the app providers.

  1. What is your advice to a business that is considering looking at an outsourced solution for their needs? What do they need to look for?

Be clear about what your needs are, and what your “pain points are”.  I have experienced many occasions where business owners struggle to articulate their problems, which is not surprising as they are very close to their day-to-day operations.  As a part-time CFO learning about their business, I learn to be a good listener first, before diagnosing their financial or business problems.  I use a diagnostic framework to help me do this so that when a potential client is describing problems, I have a mental picture of what the issues are and where they reside.  Then, we can have a conversation about how to solve the problems, which is often what the clients want to hear!

Thank you to Chris Baring-Gould, Principal, The CFO Centre

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Congratulations Michael and Kylie - Chartered Accountants

Completing any further qualification can be a challenge when you are working full time and have other commitments which is why we like to acknowledge and congratulate our team members on their personal and academic achievements.

This month we dedicate to Michael Durdin and Kylie Ngo; both have successfully qualified as Chartered Accountants. As is the tradition at McPhails, we sat down with both of them to hear their thoughts about business and what success looks like.

Thanks, Michael and Kylie and we wish you every success.

 

Michael Durdin 

1. What does it mean to be a Chartered Accountant?
After years of studying Accounting through University and the CA program, it feels both rewarding and a relief to be able to be a member of such a highly respected institute within the Accounting industry.

2. You work with businesses every day; what would be three tips you would give to someone who is thinking of starting a business?
- Work hard! Starting a business is no easy task, you need to be prepared to put in the work for the reward!
- Don't be afraid to seek advice from professionals in different fields; knowledge is power!
- and always rememeber that your clients are your first priority, because you won't have a business without them!

3. What is a typical day at McPhails for you?
- Helping clients manage their tax affairs, which usually involves preparing Annual Accounts or assisting with any day to day queries they may have, along with supporting younger staff members with any questions they may have.

4. If we came for dinner at your house tonight, what would we eat and who would have cooked it?
- I'm not very handy in the kitchen myself, so if I were to cook I would probably stay outside and cook a BBQ, but the safer (and tastier) option would be getting my wife Chelsey to cook my favourite meal tacos!

5. How do you explain to people when you are out what your role is at McPhails?
My role at McPhail's is to assist the Partners and Managers by preparing Accounts and Tax Returns, usually for Family Groups involving everything from Companies to Trusts to Super Funds.

6. What are you known for at work?
Work aside, I’m known for my hilarious jokes (although some may disagree) and making donut bets!

7. Do you have any more educational goals for the future? Any more study you would like to complete?
- After studying my whole life from the age of 5, I am looking forward to a bit of a break at the moment, but you never know what study opportunities may arise in the future!

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Kylie Ngo

1. What does it mean to be a Chartered Accountant?
It’s great to be internationally recognised. It gives me access to a range of learning resources and exclusive member benefits. Becoming a CA will hopefully provide me with a platform that will assist me to develop my technical expertise in accounting and communicate technical knowledge with other members.

2. You work with businesses every day; what would be three tips you would give to someone who is thinking of starting a business?
- Knowing your customers – research and identify your customers, think of how to maintain loyal customers and how to reach out to new customers
- Thinking of how your business (service/products) is different from other businesses in the market
- What business structure is suitable for your business? Sole Trader/Company/Trust or Partnership. However, you need to keep in mind that as your business grows and changes, you may decide to move to a different type of business structure.

3. What is a typical day at McPhails for you?
A typical day at McPhails is checking emails and responding to any emails from clients first thing in the morning, doing clients’ tax or BAS work, assisting my clients and colleagues if they have any issues.

4. If we came for dinner at your house tonight, what would we eat and who would have cooked it?
If you came over for dinner at my place, I would offer a traditional Vietnamese cuisine, i.e., spring roll, rice paper roll and Vietnamese beef noodle soup. The “head chef” in my house is my Mom, and I would assist her with the cooking.

5. How do you explain to people when you are out what your role is at McPhails?
I am looking after BAS works for our clients at McPhails. I assist clients who do their bookkeeping with recording their financial records using accounting software (e.g., MYOB, Xero). I also do bookkeeping and tax returns for individuals, partnership, Trusts and companies.

6. What are you known for at work?
Quiet, funny. BAS “queen”. Quite Friendly.

7. Do you have any more educational goals for the future? Any more study you would like to complete?
Being a Chartered Accountant provides an opportunity for self-professional development. I haven’t got a specific educational goals for the future at the moment. However, I would like to continue to develop and gain more professional experience while working. In my spare time, I would like to study another language such as Korean and I hope to achieve this in the next five years.

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Congratulations Michael and Kylie.


Business Succession Planning Seminar

The McPhail's team held a successful client seminar this month which we hope will be the first of many such events over the coming years.

Hosted by our new partner Matthew Drew the topic of this event was business succession planning and we explored some of the business, taxation and legal issues to consider when developing an exit strategy.

Matt’s presentation covered a number of issues that Business Owners need to consider during the planning stages such as understanding your business, identifying where your potential successor may come from and setting your timeframe.

Our guest presenter, Andy Shaw of Robinson Gill Lawyers, then covered off on a number of legal items including the importance of documentation.

However, the highlight of the night was a panel discussion chaired by our very own Rebecca Rosario. Consisting of existing clients, Roger Young, Ian Edgar and John & Michael Davies the panel shared their own experiences having all recently been through the business sale process.  The insights provided by each of the panelists was invaluable and we thank them greatly for being part of the evening.

We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with your own succession plan or if you know of anyone that may benefit from our services please do not hesitate to pass on our details.

We hope to host additional client seminars in the New Year to build on the momentum generated from this one and will provide further details as the planning evolves.

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Success tips for all businesses, small or large

Matthew Addison is the Executive Director of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers and shares his views and experiences with us. Thank you, Matthew, for your insights and excellent tips for all businesses, small or large.

  1. Many small businesses gain new clients through word of mouth, is that similar for Bookkeepers too?

Professional Services succeed and fail on a number of factors including technical competence but also on the perception held by the client or employer as to the integrity and professionalism (the reputation) of the Service Provider.  The reputation leads to positive referrals or leads to a current client indicating to others that they aren’t happy and hence the external vibe about the provider doesn’t engender positive referrals.  This same positive vibe due to reputation applies to all types of business: be it service, product, wholesale or retail.

  1. How are Bookkeepers maintaining their reputations in this very competitive world?

A Bookkeeper maintains their reputation in the first place by performing their work professionally.  To be professional includes timeliness, it means meeting deadlines, it means communicating strongly and appropriately, it means being competent.

Competence in Bookkeeping has a number of aspects:  it is not just about debits and credits and ledgers, in today’s world it is knowing how the software works or should work.  It is knowing how to achieve best practice and efficient processing using the appropriate software solutions.  It is about knowing the GST law that applies to each set of business circumstances, it is about knowing the Payroll laws (PAYG Withholding, Payroll Tax, Fairwork, HR etc.) that apply.

A bookkeepers reputation is enhanced when they show extreme competence in performing their own areas of expertise and also when they call on other experts to fill the gaps.

  1. How does the technical landscape affect Bookkeepers?

Technology is delivering better tools to the bookkeeping process.  Bookkeepers must endeavor to stay up to date with the latest features available in the software they use.  Software providers report regularly how features they have developed in the last few years are taken up by less than 50% of customers.

Bookkeepers should continually challenge their thinking to adopt new processes and new approaches to bookkeeping based on the improving software.  We are in a world where Machine Learning and the connected world of the internet are providing Data to the bookkeeper.  In the past, we would spend most of our time creating the data and normally as a record of what has already happened.  Today we have the software business tools to create the accounting data at the same time as the business activity occurs, if not as part of the business process.  Bookkeepers should be using bank feeds, OCR invoice technology, sending electronic invoices, using electronic timesheets etc. etc.

  1. In your role as Executive Director of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers, how do you juggle all the priorities you have on at the moment?

The ICB is involved in many aspects of the Business world, the tax world, the education of bookkeepers, the software.  You are correct in observing that it is a juggle of priorities.

We are privileged to have grown to have nearly 4000 members of our ICB bookkeeping community and 20 members of the engaged team able to achieve momentum, influence, and solutions in different areas either on behalf of our community or for our community.

We have committed to regular output on a number of member based services, therefore these take priority.  We then assess what other involvements will most impact our community and what we can have a significant influence upon.

It is a juggle and we mostly get it right

  1. Managing professional relationships is critical to business success and I’m sure you have seen some mistakes made over the years. What in your mind is the best way to manage relationships to ensure everyone gets the best service and outcome?

Unfortunately, it is an easy answer but not always easy to execute.  It is about communication.  People write emails from their perspective.  Emails are black and white and we read them from whatever perspective we are in at the time.  We don’t have the same background information, we don’t have the same emotion or perspective that the writer may have had so as a reader we interpret it differently.  If the Sender and Receiver don’t spend that extra time checking they have correctly interpreted the message to say what it was meant to say, things can spiral out of control very quickly.

  1. What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given over the years about business success?

Spending time with the people is important.  People being:  your own team, your clients, other influencers on your environment.

  1. If you were given $200, what would you do with it?

$200:  team lunch

$2000:  maybe some external marketing

$20,000:  increase some of the teams hours

$200,000 employ a new person and breathe a little more freely

 

  1. What are three characteristics that you have seen work well in business?

Articulating the vision and ensuring it is what you do.

Spend time with your people and ensure you are on the same page and enjoying doing it.

Identify issues and spend the time fixing and communicating the journey to fix it.
Thank you, Matthew. You can check out The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers by clicking here.


Under the spotlight with Scott Parham, Accountant

Today, we sit down with Scott Parham, one of our highly qualified and experienced Accountants to learn what being a Chartered Accountant means to him and to see what advice he has for anyone thinking of going into small business in today's world.

  1. What does it mean to you to be a Chartered Accountant?

What CA means to me, is a partnership with one of the world’s leading education providers in accounting. Through this partnership, there will be a need for continuous learning and development in order achieve and maintain the high expectations set by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand [CAANZ]. I feel this will equip me with the skills and knowledge needed to tackle the problems faced in business today.

  1. Can you please explain what your role is at McPhails and the best thing about it.

My role at McPhails is to prepare and assist partners and managers with the preparation of self-managed superfunds, business accounts and tax consulting. The best part of my role is that I get to work with a wide array of clients from different fields of business.

  1. What's one piece of advice you would give to someone who is starting out in business today?

My advice would be to embrace technology. With the evolution of computer software, this has created many programs that will assist any business owner in ensuring that their business is running at its greatest efficiency. One example of this is an accounting software provider Xero. They have created a user friendly accounting and bookkeeping software that is aimed at providing real time information, through the use of features such as bank data feeds and being a ‘cloud’ based software.

  1. If we came to dinner at your house tonight who would cook and what would we eat?

If you were to come to my house for dinner, both Hannah (my partner) and I would be delighted to be making you a seafood curry laksa. This dish we both love to make as we overload it with prawns and mussels.

  1. What am I known for by the team at McPhails

I am a ‘foodie’. A way I like to start my weekend is by going to a nice café and have a relaxing brunch. My favourite orders are usually a brekkie board or smashed avocado with eggs (could be a reason I don’t own my house).

  1. How would you describe the work that you all do for your clients?

I would describe the work we do at McPhails as a quality service and value adding to the client. This is achieved by the attention to detail and effective communication management required by all staff members. This ensures that the work produced is accurate and available to clients in a timely manner in order to assist in making more informed business decisions.

Thanks, Scott and congratulations on your recent educational accomplishment.


5 Ways to Build a Team of Leaders (While Saving Yourself Some Work)

When putting together a group of individuals to work together on a project, it can seem easy to simply delegate all that you have to do to other people. What this doesn't do, however, is set up anyone else on staff to lead after the leader's departure.

The lack of initiative that comes with passivity may actually be crippling to an organization, especially one striving to grow in multiple, independent departments. Here, then, are 5 great ways to build a team of leaders from within, while encouraging your best employees to move up the ranks themselves.

1. Promote cross-departmental teamwork

Do away with departmental boundaries by creating teams able to work in multiple fields to make the most of your employees' skill sets. When you create these groups, place certain people into leadership-like positions in order to promote their project management capabilities in smaller settings.

2. Give others authority

Letting employees make decisions, rather than simply dismissing them when offered, is actually a great way for people to begin tapping into their problem solving and analytical skills early on, practices that may serve particularly useful when transitioning into leadership roles.

3. Tell your staff about your process

One of the most intriguing parts of leadership is the mystery around it. Few people who aren't leaders actually know how important decisions get made, where the company is planning on going, and how products get decided from start to finish. Being free and transparent with your information shows employees the steps they'll have to take when they try to step in as leaders rather than leaving them blind.

4. Express your passion

When people training to become leaders see how much you care about a team, project, or organization, they're much more inclined to be passionate about the same things--especially if that means maintaining structure and efficient maintenance when they take on leadership.

5. Be clear about responsibilities

Setting clear roles for each person, as well as the tasks they're expected to do, aids in helping future leaders set those exact same roles. In some cases, it may even help them learn how to create new ones, a sometimes necessary step that accompanies a company's growth.

Article written by Peter Economy, The Leadership Guy


Understanding Angel Investing with Russell Stocker

1. What is angel investing?
Angel investing occurs at the start-up phase of a company usually well before revenues are achieved. The investment is considered to be high risk, and Angels probably have the biggest appetite for risk compared to other sources of capital. Industry statistics indicate that one in every ten businesses that are pitched at this stage are considered investible. Ultimately of the investible companies only approx. 30% will deliver a return to the angel investor. Typically Angels will invest in tech start-ups because if they are successful, they can be globally scaled and provide high returns. An Angel investment is made on the basis the investors will exit within a 5-7 year timeframe. Typically Angel Investors have been successful entrepreneurs themselves or have worked for multinational companies and can assist the company with support and advice.

I am a member of Melbourne Angels, and we invest as a syndicate.

2. How do you know if an idea/concept is a good one or not?
It is always difficult to predict because you never really know until its commercialised and tests the market. That can be several years after the initial investment is made. But usually, the starting point is to understand what problem is the entrepreneur trying to solve and how unique is the solution. Other important factors are the size of the potential market and how easily/quickly the business can be scaled.

3. How important is the people factor when you are considering putting together an investment portfolio? Meaning, how important is it to have the right people developing the idea?
At the stage, Angel Investors invest there is usually very little in the way of assets(either tangible or intangible), and often the company is pre-revenue. So the reality is that you are literally investing in the entrepreneur and his/her ability to make it all happen. It's the first prerequisite in deciding to invest. Without a capable, determined entrepreneur/founder the chances of the company being successful are minimal.

4. What type of industries typically seek angel investing and why is that?
Typically we invest in the various tech sectors. Right now we see a lot of entrepreneurs pitching to us from BioMedical (a lot of preventative disease solutions), Online Commerce Platforms(e.g., Uber, Airbnb, etc.) and Renewable Energy solutions. Angel Investors have an appetite to invest in these new sectors because the market opportunities and returns are potentially huge and offset the investment risks.

5. How long can it take investors to see a return on the investment and why?
A minimum of five years and more often than not the companies will fail. As mentioned above we are investing at a very early stage, and often the products are still to be developed let alone launched on the market. Angel Investors get their return when the business is either acquired by a strategic investor(e.g., large Multinationals) or in some cases listed on the stock exchange. You need a lot of patience to be an Angel Investor.

6. Why would a business seek angel investing compared to other more traditional financial service providers?
Traditional financial service providers will simply not loan to companies at this early stage. Early stage companies usually have insufficient fixed assets so have little capacity to provide security.

7. What is the future of angel investing?
Wherever there is a vibrant startup ecosystem, there will always be a need for Angel Investors. One of the keys is for a government to provide a stable policy framework that encourages entrepreneurs and investors to take the necessary risks. That can be in the form of tax breaks and/or grants. It hasn't always been there, but the Federal Government have become more supportive in recent times. Angel investors are becoming more important because other forms of early stage investment such as Venture Capitalists are becoming more and more risk averse.

8. You’ve spent years working between China and Australia, how different are the Chinese to deal with on a professional level?
There are a couple of fundamental differences, but as time goes on and China becomes more and more exposed to the rest of the world, the differences are narrowing. The two things that still distinguish Western and Chinese business habits; (i) in China you normally have to build a relationship first before you can do business and (ii) Chinese will often interpret a written contract as an expression of all that can go wrong and therefore builds distrust between the parties.

9. What’s the best idea/concept that you have seen that has worked?
There are some remarkable solutions being developed at the moment that work on the early detection of insidious diseases and conditions. At Melbourne Angels we have been presented with working solutions to detect the early onset of Osteoporosis, Diabetes and Epileptic fits among them. The various entrepreneurs are working on all the necessary approvals and trials and if successful not only will they become commercial successes but will benefit many many people from avoiding unnecessary suffering.

10. What three words would you use to describe the team at McPhail and Partners?
Reliable, Dependable, Collaborative

Russell Stocker is a valued client at McPhail and Partners, and we would like to thank him for sharing his insights and knowledge with us all. Thank you, Russell.


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