This year celebrates 35 years for Wayne being part of McPhail and Partners, such a fabulous milestone. In this interview, Wayne shares his insights into the industry, the changes over the years both personally and professionally and what his aspirations were if he wasn’t an Accountant. Thank you Wayne for sharing your story and we wish you many happy returns.

Wayne Durdin

1. What year did you start at McPhail and Partners?
June 1980, as a very young, single (engaged) keen audit/tax grad.

2. Why did you join the business?
I had recently graduated after 7 years of full time employment & part time study at Swinburne. I was with a city firm of 6 partners & 50 staff, doing both audit & tax work & they were in the process of merging with what was to eventually become part of Deloitte. I liked the smaller, personal relationships with both the staff & the clients & did not want to be part of a then big6 firm where I could envisage myself doing predominately audit work for large public companies. I was looking around to see what my options were & what was available when I met with Ross & Brian who were looking for someone with audit experience to join their family business. We obviously clicked & the rest is history.

3. Why have you stayed?
In short because of the people; both the staff & the clients. I enjoy the close personal relationships I have developed with our clients. Seeing them achieve their personal goals & knowing you were a part of it is a great thrill. You feel very privileged knowing & sharing many of their confidences & aspirations & you develop many friendships. This can happen in many accounting practices, but at McPhail & Partners it is also working with a great group of people who share similar values.

4. So much has changed in the world over the last 35 years, what are five of the biggest changes you have witnessed in the accounting world?
I could easily say GST, superannuation, computers, the Internet & communication. However, these are individual changes, & although specific to tax &accounting they are the cause & do not reflect the real underlying changes. Not in any particular order:

  • The increasing rate at which things change. Computers, phones, & software are all changing at increasing speeds. It would be nice to enjoy new advancements, fully utilise and appreciate them without the worry that it will become obsolete with the latest update!
  • The expectation of immediate response. I blame this on emails & mobile phones, but there is a community expectation of wanting things immediately. Once an email has been sent it is assumed that a) you have received it, b) you have read it or seen it & c) you have acted upon it. People in general live for the moment & do not plan ahead. Everything is wanted now.
  • The complexity within all things, not just taxation. Oh for the days when things were simple & you could give straight forward answer or advice that your clients wanted. Now it is all given with disclaimers, the fear of being wrong, or having to ask yourself, am I authorised to say this. We generally know the answer, what is best for our client & what they should do, but in most cases we can’t simply tell them.
  • The availability of knowledge. The Internet, Google, or whatever provides information to everyone at their fingertips. Unfortunately this is easily misinterpreted, misunderstood & cannot always be relied upon.
  • Specialization. No longer is it possible to know everything. Knowing your limitations & when to refer to a specialist, whether it is another accountant, financial planner, legal or superannuation expert is a critical part of providing the best service to your clients.

5. How has business changed over the last 35 years?
The above changes also apply to the business world in general. I would however add that business is now international. With the Internet, on line shopping, outsourcing overseas, have all added new dimensions to the business world. Not only is this is a different form of competition which requires new business skills, but it also provides opportunities to many entrepreneurs.

6. How do you think you have changed over that time?
Hopefully for the better! I realise that I cannot do everything & I now rely a lot more on others. Older & wiser, or should I say more experienced, I now understand the value of client relationships & the service that we provide. It is not just a tax return or BAS, but it is a service that gives our clients piece of mind & security. As a family man, I have seen & experienced many of the challenges that our clients encounter & can confidently advise them from first hand experience. The one thing that I learnt very early on is that everyone is different, has different goals & ambitions. Very obvious, but easily overlooked when working with financial matters.

7. Ten years from now, how do you believe the world of accounting will look?
Obviously it will be very different. Over the years I have seen accounting change from hand written cash books & ledgers, the use of 13 & 18 column sheets (the precursor to excel spreadsheets), the massive time savings with the introduction of the Kalamazoo system, Burroughs accounting machines, computers & now laptops, mobile phones & tablets.
Technology will be constantly changing, that is a given, & the now accepted use of the cloud.

The accounting profession is moving to real time information & reporting. With the use of technology such as direct bank feeds, I believe this will provide immediate financials, & enable the automated preparation of tax returns, BAS etc. making data entry obsolete, along with the need for the separate preparation of returns.

As an accountant we will be providing clients with meaningful advice on planning, business improvement, mentoring, & more certification/audit type reports. Clients will always need assistance with business management skills.

8. What is one piece of advice you would give to a university graduate who is looking for work?
They need to be themselves. With minimal experience it is essential that they are the right personality fit for the business.

9. Is there a funny tale you can share about McPhail and Partners that perhaps others don’t know?
Accountants are traditionally dull & conservative, but we do have our moments, generally not in public. There have been some great practical jokes played on staff within the office, & I have been on the receiving end of a few over the years. I have returned from holidays to find my office had been fully relocated into the tea room, an area too small for either a desk or a chair. Or one of my favorites was when we learnt that we could log in to other computers remotely. One particular staff member was continually found to be playing solitaire & other computer games when others walked into his office, until he realised that he was being set up. There are other stories, but these are best kept private as most would also incriminate me in some way.

10. If you were to start over again and had the opportunity to work in a different industry and role, what would you choose?
I have always enjoyed problem solving which gave me an interest in law when younger, but I have always had an interest in music. Not as a musician, I can’t sing, dance & minimal playing ability, but possibly in some capacity within the music recording industry if it had been possible. I also loved all types of sport, (& still do) & was at best OK with some of them, so I knew very early that it was only going to be a hobby & not a career.