Cam Nguyen is Director and founder of Encountr, a boutique accounting practice, specialising in compliance, taxation, and business consulting services. Continual learning is key to her business and personal development.
“I undertake client-facing and advising activities as well as back-office work such as creating our software procedures,” she says. “I am also continually expand my own knowledge with training, reading, webinars and other technical training.
“On a typical day, the first thing I do is check my emails to see if anything has come through from the night before that needs actioning. Before I start work, I'm either at the gym or listening to a podcast to get myself into the right frame of mind. It's essential that you set yourself to have a good day.
“Then it will be either doing client tasks or anything for the business. Maybe even meetings or teleconferences.”
Her need to keep herself motivated and energised is critical, because she often gets back into work once her family is settled.
“I'm pooped by lunchtime, so I'll go for a walk or do something to re-energize myself. In the afternoon, I'm back at it again. Before dinnertime, I cook for my family and then I'm back at work again at about nine, 10 o'clock. My day is long, but I do break it up. I do love what I do, so the day tends to go quickly.”
Despite the long hours, Nguyen wouldn’t change her work for the world. She can steer the growth of her own business, while remaining in control of her life.
"The advantage of running your practice is that you see the growth for yourself and determine the growth."
“The advantage of running your practice is that you see the business growth for yourself and can determine the growth. This isn’t possible when you're working for somebody else. I also get to design my day, and it's rewarding for me to even work on a weekend while people are out socialising. On the flipside, as a business owner, you're not always entirely sure where your efforts are going, and that can sometimes be a little demoralising.”
Her first career role helped her see how to grow a business — and led her on the path of an entrepreneur.
“I finished university in 2010 with a Bachelor of Commerce degree majoring in accounting. After university, I started as a graduate with a start-up practice, and it was interesting to see a firm being built from the ground up.
“I then moved to a firm specialising in corporate secretary services and management accounts for listed entities. This role enabled me to compare a start-up to an established firm.
“My next role with a mid-tier firm involved several significant projects, such as implementing a virtual CFO service and cloud accounting services. This experience gave many innovative skills and techniques that I can apply at Encountr.”
Being a younger member, Nguyen is aware of how technology can develop the accounting profession, and knows its importance.
“The biggest challenge right now for the accounting industry is adopting technology,” she says. “It’s a conversation that's been going on for a little while, but I feel like there's a lot of slower adopters who have a negative reaction to technology.
“It's important we embrace technology because it is coming whether we like it or not. If you can embrace technology, it's only going to help you move forward.”
Starting Encountr has been her career highlight and thrust Nguyen into leading and managing people far more experienced than herself.
“Being able to start Encountr so young at the age of 29 is a major highlight. A lot of my colleagues are much older and more experienced than me. I haven't come across a lot of principals that are my age with their own firms. That's something I'm hugely proud of and taking the courage to do that.”
Nguyen is also very clear on why her CA designation is invaluable to her business, and helps her engage with her clients on multiple levels.
“As a CA, I can be an adviser and a business owner. As a business owner, there are so many issues to consider, and it is easy to forget the ethics or specific regulations. Knowledge of the regulations is a benefit, and the ability to analyse issues that ordinary business owners cannot.
“Also having something as simple as an engagement letter is another benefit. Engagement letters have not been an issue for me but having them has helped at Encountr.
“Documenting policies or risk procedures is another advantage. Moreover, my training as a CA has helped me with Encountr, and even throughout my career with my clients.”