30/05/2000 - 22:00

Making a profit less taxing

30/05/2000 - 22:00


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ADDING value to a business rather than minimising its tax is the philosophy that led Steve Abbott to create his own firm.

Making a profit less taxing
ADDING value to a business rather than minimising its tax is the philosophy that led Steve Abbott to create his own firm.

The Abbott Business Consultants principal elected to retire from his position as a senior partner of Duncan McPhail and Co to put this philosophy into action.

“I found clients who focussed on minimising tax all the time had a negative view on business,” Mr Abbott said.

“Our main aim is to help clients make money and build a secure future. The tax issues can be sorted out later.

“That philosophy is starting to go through the accounting profession now.”

He considers this approach is vital, given that the majority of Abbott’s clients are small businesses.

Mr Abbott said traditional accounting methods of management revolved around cutting costs.

“Our view is that it is better to build a company’s top line and handle things from that side,” he said.

“Of course you manage costs but I think it is more important to find out how to get a better share of the market.

“And we must make our clients realise they have to work on their business rather than spend all their time working in it.”

Mr Abbott said there had been occasions where clients were uncomfortable with losing that sort of contact with the business.

He said his business did not hold the same danger for him.

“I like this sort of practice because there are so many different challenges each day,” Mr Abbott said.

“You see a multitude of clients and their problems are usually very different.”

Mr Abbott said automation was also making a major difference to his profession.

“At the other practice I worked at we had a herd of bookkeepers,” he said.

“Now we try and train the client’s wife – it’s usually the client’s wife – to handle that side of the business.

“We end up training them to become almost mini-accountants which gives us the opportunity to do what we’re trained for and help them manage their business.”

Mr Abbott said it was important for accountants – and all business advisors – to gain a real understanding of their clients’ businesses.

“The client must feel their accountant understands their business if you want clients to see you regularly,” he said.

“It’s not good enough just to tell clients to see their accountant every quarter. Clients are aware of value for money.”

Besides advising businesses around Perth, the firm also has clients on Christmas Island, the Cocos Islands and in the WA outback.

Mr Abbott said the Internet and other telecommunications advances had helped this. A lot of the firm’s work can now be done via the Internet or over the phone.

Mr Abbott said part of his goal with Abbott Business Consultants was to grow the business slowly.

“I think every business needs to keep growing but we don’t want to get too big too fast,” he said.

Besides running his firm, Mr Abbott is also on the boards of the Small Business Development Corporation, the Arthritis Foundation of WA and the WA Youth Jazz Orchestra.

He said the SBDC was vital for WA.

“Small business growth in WA is outstripping the national average while the small business failure rate is below the national average,” Mr Abbott said.

Interestingly, Mr Abbott cannot now remember what drew him into accounting.

Although he has been practising for thirty-six years, accounting is his second career, having started his working life with shipping line P&O.


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