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Accountant opts for freedom

BEING able to run his own practice while having access to the full services of a national accounting firm has kept life interesting for Frank Cooper.

Mr Cooper has been with Australia-wide accounting firm Arthur Andersen since 1976. He was appointed managing partner of its WA office in 1991.

Arthur Andersen is a member firm of Andersen Worldwide SC.

Mr Cooper said he had joined the firm with the intention of staying for three years to gain more training and professional qualifications before joining a smaller firm.

“The reality is the next new challenge for me has always unfolded within the firm,” he said.

“When the phone rang from time-to-time with offers I’d weigh up the opportunities and Arthur Anderson always came out on top.

“One of the reasons for wanting to go to a smaller firm was I wanted the autonomy to run my own business.

“I’ve found I can do that in this firm but still have access to its resources.

“We encourage autonomy within our staff but make sure they make the most of all the resources at their disposal.

“It also means I can go on holiday because I know the managers and partners here can take care of my clients.

“It’s quite rare to be bothered for something regarding a client when I am on leave.

“If you’re in a smaller firm that can become a problem.”

Mr Cooper did not set out to become an accountant. He initially studied architecture at the University of WA.

“Halfway through my first year we had a guest lecturer. The essence of his lecture was there was no money in architecture,” Mr Cooper said.

“I didn’t need to be told twice. Besides, most of my mates from the Uni football club were in commerce.”

Mr Cooper said a lot of the firm’s administration was now handled in the eastern states, which gave him more time to spend with clients.

“I’m looking to build up my client base. It’s a new challenge – both intellectually and professionally,” he said.

However, the intellectual challenge – in the form of recent tax changes – has forced Mr Cooper to cut back on some of his community work.

He gave up his place on the John XXIII College council and his seat on the board of the Child Health Research institute this year.

Mr Cooper helped to raise funds for the institute’s new building.

He has remained chairman of the WA Opera Company.

“Community work offers a blend with my professional life that I find enjoyable,” Mr Cooper said.

The number of professional opportunities have kept him in Perth.

“Every five or six years is like starting with a new job description,” Mr Cooper said.

“And I felt there was no better place to raise a family than in Perth.

“I’ve had many opportunities to travel with the firm so I’ve been exposed to a number of different things.

“If I could add anything to my career, it would be to have worked in another place for a couple of years. But it’s not really a regret.”

Mr Cooper said the real challenge was the development of the business.

The firm’s head office sets the overall parameters for the Perth office such as the performance expectations. Besides that Mr Cooper has a free hand.

“We have to make sure we get the right people, develop the right people and keep the right people,” he said.

Mr Cooper said the recent split between Arthur Andersen and Andersen Consulting had not been felt in Perth because Andersen Consulting had not been involved with the Perth market.

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