Kyelie Baxter Owner and Principal Accountant IQ Accountants has embraced technology her accounting practice to the point that she’s ordering paper for the first time since 2016. Being a paperless practice has opened up a myriad of opportunity. As well as serving face to face clients from her Burleigh Heads office, Kyelie has customers who live remotely, interstate and overseas. Her fully technology enabled work processes also mean that one of her team works completely remotely from Hobart.
Over 15 years in her own business, Kyelie has built a loyal customer base and dedicated, experienced team. She was a Queensland Finalist in the Telstra Business Women’s Awards, Small Business Champion Awards Finalist and NAB Professional Service Awards Runner Up.
You started your very successful Accounting practice IQ Accountants 15 years ago. Why did you decide to go into business for yourself?
I was 18 years old when I started working as an undergraduate in an accounting firm. During this time I was working full time and simultaneously studying my accounting degree full time at university. In a sign of how I would continue to manage my ever busy life, I also got engaged and organised a wedding during this time! A few years later, I was offered a partnership and to run my own office at the Gold Coast. It was an opportunity that I grabbed at with both hands. I am incredibly grateful that these partners saw, at such an early age, my dedication, talent, potential and grit, and for taking it as a welcomed benefit to their business.
My learning curve was steep during these early years, but I found I thrived under the pressure and enjoyed the responsibility. I also began to identify opportunities to improve the business, move it forward and modernise. I used the time managing the Gold Coast office as a period of trial and exploration.
There were many factors for me wanting to be the sole owner but the most significant one was the desire to enact real change to the way the business operated, to reflect more my vision of a successful modern Accountancy practice. I wanted a client focused, technology driven, relationship based firm and the freedom to make decisions on strategy and spend that aligned with this vision. I was excited at what was possible and I wanted to be the one to chase that possibility.
How have technology changes impacted the way you run your business?
Technology has had a significant impact on the accounting industry, and in particular my business in recent years. In fact, last month we ordered paper for the first time since July 2016. This has been enabled through abandoning the traditional communication form and corresponding solely on an electronic portal which acts as an online library and workflow for all client correspondence.
With this implementation we introduced online review and authorisation, which has seen a significant increase in efficiencies in administration. Internal processes have also adapted with latest technology offerings allowing our office to become genuinely paperless. This is something we are incredibly proud of and has also allowed us to be more agile. As an example we have a staff member working remotely from Hobart and we communicate via Slack, Gotomeetings and through our internal system.
These processes and technology enhancements have taken time, patience and have been costly both financially and time wise. However, I find exploration of new applications and technologies exciting and interesting. I must admit I am a bit of a techno nerd. I ensure I attend forums that showcase and discuss what’s new. Keeping up to date both with client based systems and the latest news in internal business applications is critical to an efficiently run office and sustainable business growth.
Share with us the Top 3 things people should know about their finances.
- Cash in the bank isn’t the same as the profit you will pay tax on at the end of the year. This is one of the most commonly asked questions and misconceptions when tax planning.
- Don’t trust a bookkeeper or an accountant to deal with your accounts and/or taxation affairs in entirety. Have a base level understanding of what your compliance obligations are and of every document, you are asked to sign. Also make sure you know what the payments you are making are for.
- Do tax planning! Tax planning is a proactive approach to managing your tax affairs. We do it in April, May and June with all of our clients to ensure that they are minimising the tax that they have to pay. The meeting at minimum advises them of the approximate tax they will have to pay 12 months later (forewarned is forearmed). The best case scenario gives them several options to choose how to reduce their tax obligations if they so desire.
Tell us how you’ve successfully used partnerships to grow IQ Accountants.
I am a huge believer in “aces in their places.” My most rewarding partnership started ten years ago. At that time IQ Accountants didn’t have the capacity to offer bookkeeping services. The solution was to align myself with a trusted partner who I knew had similar business values, would offer the same client service standard and had a demonstrated successful business credentials.
Over a period of ten years we worked with well over 40 clients together. That business was what I would call “the Rolls Royce service”. All of our mutual clients appreciated that we would liaise with each other, almost as an extension of our own businesses. This added so much value to the service that we already provided within our practice. This partnership, built on mutual trust, was so successful that we were able to run seminars together. Our individual referral sources then felt comfortable to refer to the other partner, knowing of our very long term and successful working relationship.
When the time came for the bookkeeping business owner to retire from public practice, it was natural progression that I would purchase the business. This allowed our clients to continue to be serviced in a disruption free manner and added a new business opportunity as an additional range of service. Whilst sad to see the end of a very successful long-term business partnership, it was absolutely a win for everyone involved – particularly clients.
What has been your greatest challenge?
The greatest challenge that we have faced would be the move to electronic processes and e-signing. This not only involved a huge internal change but once that side of things was set up, when we rolled it out to clients, there was an education process to every single client. Suddenly my staff were not only offering accounting support, but also tech support as our clients were hand held through the very steep learning curve.
What are you most proud of?
I am ridiculously proud of the team that I have at IQ Accountants, two of whom have served over 10 years of service. The IQ team have all had a huge hand in shaping the business to make IQ Accountants what it is today and what it will become in the future. Employees come and go for various reasons but that saying “the teamwork makes the dream work” is so true. We have a tight knit group of #IQfamily alumni as well. The IQ team are an asset to me and I appreciate them greatly.
What’s one piece of advice for future female leaders?
My grandmother (97 years old so I figure she knows her stuff!) once told me, “If you are going to back anyone, back yourself.” It’s a quote that I remind myself of often and it’s fitting for future female leaders. While having a support network is very important, so is our ability to take action when needed. It’s at those times that I recall these wise words from Grandma.
You are the female economy. Whether you are a female consumer, business owner or a woman in the workforce, you can create gender equality by choosing female led brands.