Interview with Gordon Richards
Thanks for sitting down with us Gordon. You've been in Public Practice for a while - what attracted you to the sector?
I can't say that I always wanted to work in public practice. Going through university, I did think that I would start in it and then consider moving into a commercial role. Once I started in public practice though, I found the variety of work great. You were not only working on one thing for one firm (as you may in commerce), but a variety of things for a number of clients. This variety has continued, and expanded, throughout my career.
Is there anything you feel about working in practice that is important to know, or a misconception perhaps?
I think that most new / graduate accountants feel that all you do in public practice is prepare tax returns/compliance work. It is anything but that!
Yes, a career in public practice certainly starts predominantly with compliance work, but as your career grows, that work diminishes and there is a lot more advisory work. I find this extremely rewarding as you can directly see the value that you are providing your clients (rather than just ticking a box the ATO makes you tick!).
How do you feel the CPA brand assisted your current or previous roles?
My CPA has been invaluable to my entire career. Not only did it provide me with the technical foundations that I rely on day to day at work, but several other factors that are often forgotten including credibility and recognition (from employers, peers, and clients), networking opportunities, and continuous improvement and ongoing study opportunities.
The CPA brand has been an invaluable asset in my career. Its reputation, educational foundation, professional network, and commitment to continuous improvement have all played a crucial role in my success.
Gordon, tell me about your first job as a graduate.
Byfields Business Advisers – The largest WA-based CPA firm. I’m still here! I guess this highlights the clear career progression pathways the firm has in place. They provided me with lots of options when I was starting out across a range of specialty areas in Business Advisory, Agribusiness, Self-Managed Superannuation, Succession & Estate Planning, etc
What do you feel your firm does particularly well in relation to supporting and developing graduates?
At Byfields, our focus is to nurture the talents of our staff, reward their enthusiasm, and arm them with the tools they need to succeed. We provide ongoing training, career development, and mentoring through every step of the way. Our commitment is to help further the knowledge and skills of our staff, offering them all the support they need to ultimately advance their careers with us.
Our team is our top priority and we have tried to tailor benefits that reflect this, including flexible working hours, CPA/CA fees and memberships paid, study leave support, career progression prospects, and regular technical training sessions just to name a few.
Finally, what are the current challenges in Public Practice?
Staffing! We are finding it extremely difficult to find staff at all levels. I understand that this is common in all industries now, but I feel that there are fewer accountants coming through universities, and even fewer that are choosing public practice as a career pathway.
Another challenge is the continuously changing legislative environment. Throughout Covid, there were several measures that were changed multiple times by the government. This means that as a public practitioner, you need to be always on top of these so you can provide your clients with the most up-to-date and relevant advice. Whilst they have slowed after covid, these changes are still happening (and will continue to).