Scott McDonald is a partner in McGarry’s, treasurer of the South West Chamber of Commerce, an advocate of tax reform and a farm boy in the big smoke who still gets a wistful look in his eye when he talks about the land.
Westender spoke to Scott about the challenges facing business today as seen through the eyes of a chartered accountant and business adviser – that’s how McGarry’s formally describe themselves. We started with an overview of the firm itself.
McGarry’s is a small partnership, not terribly interested in becoming a big one. The partners do not want the organisational challenge that comes with more than a dozen people. The firm has plenty of business, mostly small to medium enterprises, with the median around the $10,000,000 per annum mark and no client reaching much beyond $100,000,000 per annum.
Their preferred clients, though, are dynamic, growing organisations.
“It’s not only more interesting, there is actually a lot of satisfaction in helping someone build something up.”
Scott joined McGarry’s from Price Waterhouse Coopers, where he was just another employee in a big corporation. He did not want the challenges of a single partner consultancy – “it can be a bit lonely” – mostly because he values the input and balance of expertise that colleagues can offer.
McGarry’s deals mostly with organisations employing ten or more people. There are similar challenges, though, to many smaller companies.
“The lack of resources means that there is not always sufficient expertise to deal with complex issues. It is hard for the owner to step back from the business and work ‘on the business not in the business’.”
Scott knows this is not as easy as it sounds. As an accountant and financial adviser, he understands all too keenly that bringing that expertise in-house adds overheads which eat into the bottom line. He observes that every business is different but it is always difficult for the owner to step back from the hands on process of making money and invest the time into planning strategically.
One of the satisfying things about seeing his clients grow is observing the economies of scale kicking in. He notes that external requirements, such as compliance with regulations, handling tax and so on are much easier in larger companies.
When I push him in why McGarry’s has chosen to stay small, he notes that success does not depend on growth, but growth does provide some interesting accounting challenges.
“That’s the stuff that is fun to do,” he says with a twinkle in his clear blue eyes.
Scott is one of the many business operators you can meet at the South West Chamber of Commerce. (www.chamber.org.au – I know, it’s a great URL, isn’t it?) and Westender plans to work closely with the Chamber to deliver the resources that business needs.
If you have a business story that might be of interest to other Westender business readers leave a comment below or contact me directly on firstname.lastname@example.org