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LBW: Leading an Accounting Firm? ‘Engage with Your People’

LBW Team

Staying still is falling backwards, especially in an industry that’s changing as fast as accounting does. 
The most successful accounting practices are those that always learn and keep up with transformations in technology, professional standards, and clients’ needs.  
For LBW Business + Wealth Advisors in Geelong, Australia, this includes updating their vision and mission statement, so everyone in the business can see more clearly where they want to go and how they will get there. 
“We’re going through a process of redoing our vision and mission statement and it’s proving a little bit more complicated than we thought, but we know that it’s the linchpin for everything else we need to do,” Tiffany Quinlan, Head of People and Culture, said in an interview at TOAcon 2023 on the Gold Coast. 
The largest part of the business is tax and advisory, although LBW also provides clients with financial planning, self-managed superannuation funds (SMSF), audit, and financial planning services.  
This fast-growing practice has made it to The Australian Financial Review’s annual list of the Top 100 Accounting Firms in Australia for seven years straight, including 2023.

Offshoring through TOA Global in the Philippines helped the firm grow its capacity.

Coming to work happy in accounting firms

“Our business has grown client-wise but not people-wise, and the TOA Global connection has helped us consolidate exactly what we want to do and how we’re going to resource. We’re aiming to provide better service and remove some clients that are not really in our wheelhouse anymore.”  

Like most accounting firms, LBW’s “biggest challenge is resourcing and salaries.” Part of the firm’s response was to understand what its people need to be more engaged at work. 
“A couple of the speakers today (at TOAcon 2023) talked about Employee Net Promoter Scores. For me, being in Human Resources, that’s what it’s all about,” Tiffany said. “If you want to come to work and you’re happy, it becomes easy. People will work hard and be more engaged.”

LBW post Linkedin

Yet while the practice makes it a point to not stay still, it also makes sure that its people understand how the industry and the business itself are changing.  

In 2022, when the practice shifted to the Xero cloud-based accounting software, an investment in training was key. This aligns neatly with LBW’s decision to offer support for employees who pursue further studies, such as their Chartered Accountant accreditation. 

Automation, education, and getting users involved

“We’re trying to automate but we’re also trying to educate our staff,” Tiffany explained. “There’s a big learning and technological change going on in our business at the moment.”  

For practices that are adapting to new software and systems, her advice is to provide enough lead time and to be sure that the people who will use these systems are involved.  

“Don’t do it from the top down. Make sure it’s across the whole business. And the other thing is, just engage with your people. Don’t think that because you’re the principals or the owners or the partners, you know what’s going on. People in your team know way more than you think.”     

While they’ve opened their recruitment program to global talent, LBW also protects its deep connections with the local business community. 

Since 2020, LBW has sponsored the Business of the Year Award in the Geelong Business Excellence Awards (GBEA). Its participation in the GBEA has lasted more than a decade, allowing it to “help identify and celebrate these incredibly talented, hardworking individuals and collectives.”  

Geelong is the second largest city in Victoria, after Melbourne, with a population of about 265,000 as of 2020. In the more than 40 years since LBW began operating, it has supported the city through fundraisers, workplace giving initiatives, volunteering programs, and awards for outstanding businesses.  

LBW post Linkedin

Brilliant accounting careers in growing firms

When accounting firms choose to adapt and move forward, instead of staying still, they make a positive difference in the lives of accountants, the businesses they influence, and their community.  
For 10 years now, TOA Global has helped more than 1,000 accounting firms empower themselves to thrive amid change. We connect experienced accountants and bookkeepers in the Philippines with accounting firms in Australia and New Zealand who want more time to advise their clients better and grow.  
Offshoring is one of the most strategic moves you can take as an accounting business leader and we’d be honoured to listen to your queries about how to make this work for your firm.