Kyelie Baxter Owner and Principal Accountant IQ Accountants is truly an industry disruptor. She has automated her business to the point that she and her staff can work productively from anywhere across the globe. Proof is in the pudding as they say, and Kyelie herself has been the test case, travelling internationally with her family and serving clients remotely over 2019.
Passionate about flexibility and achieving healthy work/ life balance, Kyelie role models this in her own business and encourages her staff to follow suit. It’s a workplace culture that many organisations strive for, and one that has resulted in IQ Accountants retaining long serving staff, and former employees returning to work with the organisation.
Kyelie was named Partner of the Year (Boutique Firm) at the Australian Accounting Awards in both 2019 and 2020.
How have you managed the growth milestones of IQ Accountants over more than 15 years
We have a “build it and they will come” approach. We don’t go to market without having really made sure that we are ready and that we have the available resources ready to provide the service and meet the needs of our clients. In this way we always know that we are able to manage our workload.
It also means that we are constantly working on something behind the scenes. We are always evolving, always looking for ways to do things in a different and better way. Of course I also set short, medium and long term goals and I do constant re-assessment of these. It can be easy to be sidetracked in business so these goals help keep me focused and make sure my decision making is on point.
A significant number of your clients are based remotely, interstate or overseas. What approach do you take to service non-local clients?
Only about 35% of our client base is local and to be honest, we treat our local clients exactly the same way as we treat our clients that we aren’t geographically close to. Part of our business strategy is to ensure all of our clients are treated the same way, even if they are right next door!
In this busy day and with technology literally at our fingertips, we offer e-meetings via various methods – whichever is easiest for our clients. Through these services we can do full service meetings including screen share and video conferencing right through to just simply ensuring our standard 24 hour service turnaround time for phone calls and emails.
To be honest, many of our “local’ clients also use the e-meeting service because this is more suitable for them, and it allows them to save travel time and work more flexibly to their own personal schedules. We definitely have to train people on how to use these systems. But on the whole, everyone is pretty open to the idea and really appreciates how advantageous it is to utilize the technology available.
You have very long serving staff, some of who have returned to work for IQ Accountants after leaving. Share how you have built a great organisational culture.
We have a team of amazing individuals – and together, we are a super strong workforce who support and rely on each other to get things done. I genuinely appreciate each and every one of the staff. I think part of the “secret” to our long serving staff has been partly good luck but also – just the amazing personalities that have helped build this super strong “work hard and play hard” atmosphere.
We work really hard. There are days in the office – like right now – when you could hear a pin drop, it’s that quiet! Everyone is right into their own work. But we also love to celebrate, and we share in each others lives and our successes and rally around when things get tough.
We recognize that we spend so much time together in the workplace that we are like a family and affectionately refer to ourselves as an #IQfamily. We know that we can all annoy each other sometimes. But at the end of the day, we all care about the same thing and want the same thing – and like any family, we will be okay at the end. My job, is to keep an eye on these guys and make sure they don’t over work or burn out. To make sure the balance of work hard and play hard stays at the even keel, which can sometimes be a tough call!
You have a truly flexible workplace and a remote workforce. How have you built this and what does flexible working look like for you as the leader?
This is something that we are ridiculously proud of and I am extremely personally passionate about. I genuinely believe in flexible and agile workplaces and struggle to understand why we do not have more work environments offering GENUINE flexibility. More than half of our staff work on a flexible work agreement and take full advantage of this on a weekly basis.
Again, with our “build it and they will come approach” – this meant I had to prepare. I knew that if we were going to offer this with the systems we used, having a remote desktop connection into the server wasn’t going to cut it from a speed viewpoint.
So I needed to ensure that all of our IT systems and software were 100% up to date before we contemplated this new workplace offering.
Further to this, we had to review and implement new cyber security and other related policies. It has been totally worth it though as we’ve been able to recruit some amazing staff who were specifically looking for flexible working conditions. As a leader, it means my communication techniques have to be varied and I have to be more flexible and understanding with my approaches.
Due to time differences across Australia, this may mean there is a 3 hour window between “office start and finish” times even if staff members are working the standard office day. So staff may begin contacting me from as early as 4am my time if they are starting a little earlier that day.
Our entire system is set up so that we could work independently from anywhere in the world.
I have taken the opportunity to do this. Over the past 12 months, I have travelled to New Zealand, Vietnam, Bali, Malaysia and Hawaii and worked while I have been travelling, with little impact on my productivity. The main thing that I find difficult is the lack of the 3 screens that I have in the office. In all other ways, I can work as if I was sitting at my desk in Burleigh Heads. It’s been a game changer for my work life balance, and personally very satisfying to get to this current position.
What additional business services and advice have you incorporated into your business, in response to customer needs?
We now offer a range of “getting to know your business services” and tailor these to each of our clients depending on what they want and/or what they need. As an example, I have some clients who we assist with an annual budget and then monthly cashflow and budgeting review and monthly meetings.
Other clients only require quarterly meetings. Some clients prefer us to do an annual budget and then they take this on themselves and come to us ad hoc through the year for advice about certain pain points they may be experiencing. We also assist clients with business growth recommendations, planning and reporting and explanation of their financial position. We are undertaking quite a bit of work in systems review at the moment which is really interesting, actively looking for ways to improve efficiencies within clients systems and processes, and then making recommendations.
What are your top 3 pieces of advice on taking a proactive approach to managing finances?
- If you know you need to do something, don’t delay. My mantra is always “when should I do it? NOW”.
- Consider seeking the advice of a professional to do a review of your financial position, even if you are confident that you know where things are at. A fresh set of eyes is never a bad thing.
- Keep records! Everyone’s excuse is that there’s too much paper but as someone who runs a paperless office my response is “automate”. Remember to put technology in place to assist you.
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.
IQ Accountants is a Femeconomy Platinum Member. To learn more about joining Femeconomy, hit the big red button below: