As the first in a series of regional profiles, HLB Mann Judd Adelaide’s Mike Rowe provides a synopsis of the continuing evolution of the SA-based business, including the firm’s priorities and growth strategy throughout 2020.

I’ve been with the Adelaide firm for over two years now, and having worked in CFO roles and as a corporate adviser, the partners specifically brought me in to “corporatise” their business model.

As professional advisers, we constantly remind our clients to work on the business, not in the business,
so the move made sense.

We have now established a framework that enables the partners to play to their strengths and passions – which is spending quality time with their clients and collaborating with other partners to solve complex client issues and challenges.

We have made some other changes, too. I have always found that setting and achieving targets is the key to a high performing business. There are many parallels with sporting teams and a business team is very similar. Set the target, achieve it, set a new target and then repeat! Each year, the business has been improving on all the performance indicators we have set.

We have developed a strategy built on the pillars of creating a great culture, a great brand and growing the business. And growth is not purely financial. Growth for us is growing the mindset of our team and providing more relevant services and expertise to our clients.

It’s been a massive transformation project. We’ve done a lot of work around understanding and respecting one another and the individual roles we all have to play, as well as in the way we communicate with each other. We’ve fostered a culture that’s one of encouraging people, which is an incredibly rewarding and satisfying outcome, and one that will continue to serve the business well over the coming months and years.

In terms of our own business focus, like many of our clients, we’re a small to medium sized business so we can’t spend thousands on innovation. It means we need to be resourceful and we are finding ways to empower our team to deliver new ideas that we can introduce to our clients.

Innovation for the sake of innovation is missing the point. Innovation has to be both relevant and within the reach of our clients. A good example of that is our plan to hold more in-house events this year to inform clients of what they could be doing to improve the performance of their business.

HLB Mann Judd Adelaide is renowned for its tax and accounting offering, and our family business team also has an excellent reputation. We have a wealth management and property management division, which is quite unique, and our business services team is driving solutions around advisory.

Our audit and corporate advisory team also deal with ASX listed, not-for-profits and large family businesses. While our offering and expertise is comprehensive, we also offer a company secretarial, CFO and business sales service. We’re engaged in a number of initiatives in this space which assist businesses that are experiencing growth, scaling up, exporting and preparing to sell. Our objective is to use the data and financial insights to drive business strategy.

We are the principal partner, with Business SA (SA Chamber of Commerce), of the Export Ready Program. This program is designed to help businesses looking to export to take that first step into the global market. We present a workshop on costing, pricing and risk management in taking your product, service or technology into a foreign market.

We’ve also developed a relationship with Austrade and Export Finance Australia on a program called the HLB “Pay it Forward” Series. Those in the export arena have an opportunity to learn from some of the best local exporters and model their businesses accordingly. Successful and well-known exporters are invited to present and discuss issues relevant in the exporting trade.

It’s a unique offering which is driven from the values of trying to help SA businesses succeed which, as a professional service firm, is what we’re here to do.

This article was published in the 2019-20 Summer edition of Financial Times.