“The best advice I got from Coopers & Lybrand? Go see Gilligan Sheppard.”

Liam Forde’s company The Zone works with companies around the world, creating high performance teams that embrace challenge, promote collaboration, and develop inspiring, empowering environments. He helps businesses to be more human, so it makes sense that he would naturally align with an accountant who considers the human dimension, not just facts, files, and numbers.

About 30 years ago, Liam was talking with one of the biggest accounting firms at the time, Coopers & Lybrand, now PricewaterhouseCoopers. They gave him some surprising advice. They said, “You’re a small business, if you want the best advice in town, go and see Gilligan Sheppard.” They were quick to point out that they, Coopers & Lybrand, would give great advice too, “but would charge five times more” – Liam’s words, probably not the Coopers & Lybrand representatives. What they were really saying was, you need someone more granular, more personal, and more aligned to your business, and Gilligan Sheppard’s the best.

So, Liam got in touch with Gilligan Sheppard, his initial session being with the “hilarious, colourful, and inimitable Bruce Sheppard.” Initially he worked with Greg, for operational and taxation issues. Although Bruce will get involved with specific aspects of the business, Liam’s tight team is Lisa, Richard and Amy.

“I’ve always felt like I’m part of their family and that’s not just due to the length of time I’ve been with them – it’s just the way they work.”

Thirty years on, Liam is not such a small client anymore. From improvement of processes, bookkeeping and taxes for all his companies, as well as his personal trusts, Liam believes Gilligan Sheppard works particularly well with entrepreneurs and business people that are out of the box thinkers, those who don’t like all the corporate bullshit they get from the bigger accountancy practices.

“If the big firm had the vision for me that Gilligan Sheppard did, they’d have seen I wasn’t always going to be a small client,” Liam says. “I think a lot of accountants aren’t fully aligned with their clients’ vision and values. They don’t really get it, so they don’t know how to help them grow their business. Gilligan Sheppard knows that every single business starts with people.”

“The thing about the big firms is that they talk in riddles,” says Liam. “They talk in riddles so they can bill more, and people like me want street advice, we don’t want to have sections and acts and revisions recited to us, and then be expected to remember that there’s another potential revision coming next year. They make it sound super complicated, so you are dependent on them and feel you’re getting exceptional value. But really, where the value is for me is the care, they take care of me, and of my businesses. Gilligan’s are agile, and give grounded, practical advice. They don’t judge me when I’ve left my tax return to the last minute. They just do it. No judgment.”

Liam likes the agility of Gilligan Sheppard, the grounded, practical advice they give, and the responsibility they take for what they set up for you. “They stay in touch and when things change, they let you know how they’re going to help you with those changes. They’re not like a bank that gives you an umbrella when it’s sunny and takes it away when it’s raining,” he laughs.

“They’re great at looking beyond the data at the human equation, your purpose, your legacy. They want you to have that edge and push the boundaries. Not creative accounting or stepping over compliance but how you stretch, in a way that gets more out of your business than you would with a traditional accountant, which is just looking at the data and not looking at the insights.”

“Other accountants I’ve known simply present you with the financial facts and data and off you go. Gilligan Sheppard gives me the facts and the data, but they also help me analyse it and understand the broader context and bigger story at play – which makes it far more useful and interesting.”

With enough data out there to sink a battleship, if businesses want to be different, they need to step beyond just the data. They need a purpose that goes beyond just making money. “Gilligan Sheppard stands out as different, whether its Bruce powering around the office on a scooter or having the foresight and ability to see ahead of the market in terms of future investments.

“They’ve helped me structure my businesses and personal affairs to stay ahead of the game and have advised me in a whole range of areas from business structure, personal investment strategies and financial engineering.

“They really are different, and I’d recommend anyone who has a bit of a unique business and a few financial things going on, who needs someone who can think quickly and cleverly, to talk to them.”

Liam Forde, Founder and CEO of The Zone Global
“Our purpose is to make organisations more human.”
Visit the website here; https://thezone.co/

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