Getting To Know You: Russell Smith

What do you currently do?

As a practice our aim is to help clients manage their accounts, save tax and understand numbers. Businesses need to be asking their accountant how he or she can influence sales and how profits can be increased.

I am sometimes asked about tax schemes and a client of mine will always be given every legal option. Some of these schemes, although aggressive, are still legal – and whilst we present our clients with all the options, most would not touch them with a barge pole. Normally, if clients want to know about these options, I will refer them on to different firms.

We know we are good at what we do and like to focus on that.

What is your inspiration in the business?

In 2005, whilst surfing in Bondi Beach, I came up with the vision of providing a world class accountancy service. I wanted to be the type of accountant who will always help his clients and make them a priority.

Most business owners are not financial people, but they obviously need to understand this aspect in order to progress. Our corporate mentality is to be really excellent and to make sure that the client knows we will always be here to help them and put them first.

Who do you admire?

In business I admire entrepreneurs such as Brian Tracy, Brad Sugars and Jack Stack as well as marketing expert Chris Cardell. I find Jack Stack particularly inspiring because he came up with the idea of making an organisation open and transparent so that every employee knows what is happening within that business. He advocates total visibility, something I agree with.

Looking back are there things you would have done differently?

I would have defined what my ideal client was instead of taking on anybody. I should have been more targeted with my marketing when I first set up.

What defines your way of doing business?

We like to work with our clients as we want to have a long term relationship with them. However, they have to fit a certain criteria which means we have to like them as people – we are not driven by fees. It is also important that my team enjoy working with our clients. We also like to be honest with clients and be transparent.

We want to offer the best service we can and that’s why we have an emergency helpline so that clients can speak to us out of office hours. We have found this to be a really useful facility to offer clients because it allows them to gain advice on topics that are concerning them, such as a cash flow or wages issue or a worrying letter from HMRC. Just one call can often give them peace of mind.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?

Most people go into business focusing on what they are good at. But this in itself does not mean your business will be successful if you haven’t invested in marketing. You could be the best at what you do but you need to differentiate yourself from others by demonstrating that you are an innovator in your area of expertise. It’s always good to invest in yourself to understand what your can provide for your customer. It’s important to appreciate what you are doing and to remember that people buy from people.