Benefiting From Others Going First

How did I come to be on an island, walking through the bush with two Aussie blokes at 5.30am?
For the past few years I have been a member of an informal Trans-Tasman Best Practice Group. The formation of the group came from a shared membership of what was then Polaris – an international accounting group that Gilligan Sheppard was a member of.
During successive conferences we built some great relationships and in particular with a number of the Australian accounting firms. At one of the late night bar discussions with the Aussies, someone floated the idea of catching up on a regular basis to share and learn from each other about our experiences, in running an accounting practice. The idea was still being talked about over breakfast the next day and our Best Practice Group was born.
Adrian Bryne from Economos, a Sydney based firm, volunteered to organise the first meeting and this launched our BPG. We catch up for 1 hour, 4 times a year, via a conference call and face to face at our annual conference. Each year, a member firm hosts our conference event. Gilligan Sheppard was the host last year and this year Queensland based firm Harding Martin did the honours.
Business Mentoring
The format of our meetings follow a fluid agenda of topics put forward by the members which are wide ranging and include, what software firms are using, how workflow is managed, organisational structures, talent recruitment and management, emerging trends, approaches to business development, succession planning and the political, economic environment and occasionally sports i.e. rugby, league and Aussie rules.
The group is a great forum to gain the benefit of someone else’s first-hand experience. For example we are about to undertake a staff engagement survey with our Gilligan Sheppard team. At our recent conference we sought the experience of group members in conducting similar surveys before deciding the type and method we would use.
We have also benefited from insights into the business environment in Australia, a general understanding of aspects of the Australian taxation legislation, an appreciation of the size of the financial planning industry in Australia compared to New Zealand and trends in the Accounting Industry.
When our New Zealand clients are doing business in Australia we are often asked to help them and the relationships we have built within the group enable us to do this ensuring our clients receive the support they need.
I am grateful to have had the good fortune to get to know and share some wonderful experiences with a talented and welcoming group of people. This explains my early morning excursion to Passage Peak, when after a steep and sweaty walk I was rewarded with breath-taking views of the Whitsundays.
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Are you involved in a similar group or are you interested in forming a business owners group similar to this? I would love to hear your views.
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We arrived too late to see the sunrise however the view from Passage Peak on Hamilton Island was breath-taking.

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