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Accounting in the Shared Economy: Bronwyn Candish from Cloudkeepers

Posted by Ben Jardine on 2 December.

Brownyn Candish is a chartered accountant with Chartered Accountants ANZ and runs a cloud-based accountancy service in Christchurch called Cloudkeepers. She sat down with the Leap to share her thoughts about the future of accounting amidst the rise of the ‘shared economy’ and changes to accounting technology.

Who are you, and what do you do? 

I’m Bronwyn. I’m a chartered accountant, but plenty of people don’t believe me when I tell them that!

I grew up in the Manawatu, then the earthquakes drew me to Cristchurch four years ago. I just knew Christchurch would be an amazing place to be once the rebuild kicked off. My partner is Canadian, so we split our time between Christchurch, and with our families in Palmerston North and Vancouver. I work for myself from home, wherever that is at the time – mostly in my pyjamas.

I am on the path to FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early), however I’m a relative newcomer to the movement. And seeing as I’m soon to be a first-time mum, I’m not sure I’ll ever actually retire in that sense of the word. Somebody said to me recently that the ‘RE’ in ‘FIRE’ should stand for recreational employment. It’s work you do for fun. That sounds like me.

 

Can you talk a bit about the ‘shared economy’? What does the ‘shared economy’ mean for New Zealand’s economy and the workforce at large?

I love the example of Book a Bach. We had a family bach that cost the in-laws heaps in dead weight costs, all while we were getting sick of visiting the same place all the time. So they sold up and we now use Book a Bach. It gives us the freedom to experience so much more, to be more intentional, and to maximise utilisation – I hate to see time and things go underutilised. There’s a place we’ve booked several times, year after year when the tradition was important, but we are free to go anywhere else and do whatever we want. 

I think that for the workforce, and particularly for me, the shared economy has been about taking control of your own destiny. I’ve been through a heart-breaking redundancy and have worked in places where the fit was so wrong I just felt ill. I love that now I only answer to myself, but that also means it’s all on me to make things happen. 

Breaking away from the norm gives us the ability to see that anything is up for grabs, be it the location you work from, the clients you choose to work with or the technology you use to do so. It also gives you the ability to pivot quickly when new directions or technologies present themselves. The hardest part of working for yourself is figuring out what it is that you want and then to actually let yourself do it unapologetically.  

 

Where do you see the future of accounting, especially when it comes to independent earners in today’s shared economy? 

Independent earners need to be using an accountant or a solution that aligns with their size and goals for growth. Why are you using cumbersome systems that designed for big business? Why pay for the office and infrastructure of big firms when you could be utilising the skills of someone whose work is cloud-based, and can get the job done from their home?  I’m obviously bias, but there is still an appalling number of accountants out here not making the most of technology – simply rehashing their client’s books without adding any value.

Independent earners need to simplify their lives as much as possible. Don’t overcook it. And please, use collaborative software for goodness sake. I see ways of working together in the future to be more about real-time collaboration that helps people get sh!t done, rather than looking back at last year’s accounts. The robots will be doing those. 

We accountants have been translating financial data into actionable, understandable information since ages ago. Some are just more focused on what’s coming rather than what’s been.

I’m all about the drive and direction for the future. There’s not much we can do about last year now.

 

There are so many sources of financial information out there (friends, internet forums, etc.). What’s your ethos towards financial education? 

It’s the same advice I’d give for any facet of your life: only take the advice of the people whose opinion actually matters to you.

Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo – not everyone needs a university education, a mortgage and 2.5 kids. Find your tribe, starting with other people who are also self-employed. Stable pay cheque earners will never understand. Podcasts, Facebook groups, etc., those platforms that bring the like-minded together – you’ll naturally find support from those who are walking the walk.

And never be afraid to ask for help/advice/support/accountability from the right people. Even Serena Williams has a coach!

If you happen to be in Christchurch  – come find us or hang out with Choose FI-Christchurch on Facebook or at a Meet Up. Or look up the Kiwi Mustachians on Facebook – they’re a phenomenal community of people who really strive to lift each other up and help each other out.

Professionally, I work with all types of industries but have specific expertise in businesses that “sell time”: these are professional services such as architecture firms, project managers, lawyers, tradies and creative types. 

My goal with these clients is to set a compulsory budget, a KPI dashboard, and a clear understanding of their own goals and values as a minimum for all of my clients  – anything less would be irresponsible. 

I also challenge them to apply the same rigour in which they scrutinise their business finances to their personal financial lives.

My favourite clients are those who want to regularly talk to me about how their business is tracking, because they see their business, side hustle, real estate portfolio as a tool on their journey to financial independence. We talk just as openly about their personal finances, their FIRE journey, or retirement “number”, as the aspirations they have for their kids. 

 

What is your best piece of advice for today’s independent earners?

Your next move should be to find someone who isn’t living payday to payday, or paying interest on consumer debt, and pay more attention to them. People who live within their means are a rarity out here. Memento Mori - don’t work a day longer or pay a cent more in taxes than you have to (legally of course). Play the provisional tax regime to your advantage and park those squirreled away tax savings somewhere they can be working for you.

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