Keith creates a winning culture

GETTING the corporate culture right is the way to foster growth, says Deloittes Touche Tohmatsu WA managing partner Keith Jones.

The big accounting firm set out to double its Perth business in three years and is on track to achieve it.

As part of its strategy, Deloittes created the signals project, a list of corporate ideals, to change its corporate culture.

The signals are recruit and retain the best, talk straight, empower and trust, continuously grow and improve, aim to be famous, play to win – think globally and have fun and celebrate.

Mr Jones said staff feedback on the signals program was sought annually.

He believes good staff means good service and to attract the best, a firm needs the best culture.

Mr Jones went into accounting because he felt it offered him the greatest options.

“It was a choice of keeping his options open rather than a choice of being an accountant,” he said.

“The bonus of the chartered profession is it gives you the options to stay in the profession or move outside of it.

“I love the environment – the discipline of dealing with multiple clients and multiple projects and the young people that come into it.

“There’s a collegiate feel to the profession. You face the challenge of the client stuff and the collegiality of the partners.”

Consulting, more than traditional accounting, is providing the bigger share of Deloitte’s revenues.

Many of Deloittes’ new recruits, and some of its partners, do not have accounting backgrounds.

Mr Jones said the multi-disciplinary trend was growing across the industry. Besides accounting, Deloittes also offers information technology, business planning and recruitment services.

“We probably have the largest corporate finance group in WA,” he said.

The firm is also entering financial planning.

“I think the driver of that is superannuation. People are seeking the ways to best manage their money for retirement,” Mr Jones said.

“There is a lot of money out there – largely generated by compulsory and voluntary superannuation contributions.”

The chase for that superannuation pool is leading to the consolidation of many small accounting practices in the eastern states.

Mr Jones believes consolidation will not affect large firms such as Deloittes.

He thinks the large US pension funds will also become larger players in Australia’s superannuation market.

Mr Jones said while Deloittes was headquartered in the US, it was not a US firm.

“The practice is controlled by an international board of partners,” he said.

“The CEO is from the US but is likely to only have a three-year term. The next CEO will probably be from somewhere other than the US.”

The Perth operation runs with a fair degree of autonomy and is accountable for its profits on a state and service line basis.

While Mr Jones served an eight-month stint in Los Angeles and completed assignments in London and South East Asia, he has never wanted to leave Perth.

“There has been no real barrier to leaving WA – just the lifestyle,” he said.

The keen golfer – a photograph of St Andrews golf course has prime position on his office wall – Mr Jones believes maintaining client contact is important.

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