Well.. How do we even start to wrap up what became a year none of us ever saw coming! As we edge towards Christmas 2020 with caution and perhaps a little breath holding, it does at least feel as if we’re closing down the year with more resilience than we ever knew we possessed, not to mention determination and hope that in 2021 we will see improvement in the world’s current circumstances. Always good to reflect on where we’ve journeyed before moving forward to a new year, so here’s the ‘year that was’ at Harris Black…
Business perhaps not exactly “as usual”.. The team work hard to ‘Help Clients Achieve’
In February 2020, whilst the pandemic was still in its early stages (and we perhaps still felt a false sense of security), HB staff were attending a swimming carnival to support the Motor Neuron Disease Foundation. Fund raising for a worthy cause remains high on the HB team’s agenda each year (even during a pandemic) and this particular event was a great success!
HB’s first Brentnalls conference for the year was also scheduled around this time, being held in early March in Hobart. Border closures were still ahead of us however levels of concern were starting to rise. Directors and Managers arrived in Hobart literally a day after Tasmania’s first case of Covid was reported and the seriousness of what was to come became a key point of discussion amongst our colleagues. The Brentnalls affiliation is a group of independent Chartered Accounting firms from Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Hamilton VIC, Perth and Auckland NZ and Harris Black has been part of this dynamic group of professionals for over 20 years. Whilst, the group always shares ideas on how best to improve client service and strive for best practice in all areas of business, given the timing, this conference gave us all a last minute face to face opportunity to plan how best to help each other and our clients through the tough times ahead. More than ever, during 2020 the affiliation worked closely together, supporting each other and sharing information during a time when accountants became the first port of call for assistance with Government Covid Incentives.
By 24 March, the entire HB team were now working from home. Thanks to a great IT setup that catered without issue for remote working, our accountants were all able to continue supporting their clients and each other as they would if working in the office. Meetings by Skype with cameras became the new norm during this period and to their credit, the HB team took remote working in their stride despite the fact that many were being affected personally by the impacts of Covid on the economy. Information relating to Covid government incentives came thick and fast, initially lacking detail and hitting the HB team with information that often changed rapidly. The team needed to quickly research, comprehend and share this information effectively with clients. We cannot congratulate and thank our HB team enough for the efforts they made in both wading through the endless information relating to Covid incentives and the help they offered often distressed and frustrated clients who looked to them for support and answers. This was indeed a sharp learning curve for all and everyone worked extremely hard over many months to stay on top of all the facts and help clients navigate through their options in order to achieve the best possible outcome.
Challenging times often lead to positive learnings and sometimes even unforeseen benefits. Whilst the HB team had returned to the office by the end of May, in October the second of our Brentnalls conferences for 2020 could not proceed as planned. A remote solution for our affiliate firms had to be found which lead to a virtual event being held via Zoom. This change of play actually afforded us with a great opportunity to involve every staff member across all firms who joined in for the Chairman’s address and to listen to guest speaker Gilbert Enoka (All Blacks Manager and Mental Skills Coach). A conference with a difference perhaps due to the remote requirements but great key takeaways as always and a better understanding by all affiliate staff members as to the benefits of being part of this great group. Proudly the affiliation ranked 30th in the Australian Financial Reviews top 100 Australian Accounting Firms!
Celebrations and Promotions in 2020
And as they say.. Life goes on. Despite all the trials and hard work, there was still plenty of occasion for joy and celebration amongst the HB family during 2020 with the arrival of a few new additions:
• baby Julius (born to Practice Manager, Kim Ward and her husband James in January);
• baby Oscar James Leo (born to Associate Bjorn Kirberg and his wife Michelle in April); and finally
• baby Frankie Jane (born to Director Nathan Gordon and his wife Ashley in September).
Additionally, despite Covid restrictions, Louise Chen and her husband Simon still managed a beautiful marriage ceremony followed by a lovely reception at the Brisbane Tattersalls club in August!
Lots of love and congratulations to all from the HB team!
Congratulations also this year to the following staff of whom we’re very proud!
• Louise Chen – 5 year anniversary at HB in June 2020
• Tomoka Kawamoto – 10 year anniversary at HB in June 2020
• Matthew Mok – recipient of 2 merit awards from CAANZ for “Financial Reporting”
• Grace Wong, Louise Chen and Keziah Sedgwick – promotions to Manager in October 2020
• Natalie Macinic – promotion to Supervisor in October 2020
Although of course impacted by restrictions and the need to social distance, Harris Black still manage to hold some great staff events this year as usual! Our annual HB Staff Day (a day on which we promote our culture, strategy and focus on improving client services) was still a great success, held in July this year and followed by a carefully planned and socially distanced End of Financial Year celebration at the impressive “Same Same” restaurant on James Street! Then again, in November everyone was also able to enjoy a well-earned day out at Motorwagen on Adelaide Street to celebrate Melbourne Cup Day. All events were great occasions and great team building get-togethers. HB Directors put a lot of time and effort into the organisation of these events and the entire HB team are extremely grateful!
So.. It is now time for the final staff celebration of the year… As we look back proudly on the year that was, we’re all heading out the door to have some competitive fun (this year it’s an Escape Room venue!) followed by a much anticipated Christmas lunch together! Bring on 2021 and here’s hoping it is less of a challenging time for us all. We look forward to continued great achievements, more reason for personal and professional celebration and of course, the continued provision of great service to our valued clients.
Stay safe everyone and enjoy your Christmas break with family and friends!