After launching his career with some of New Zealand’s largest chartered accounting firms, Russell Bell relocated from Auckland to Whanganui to kick two important goals. These were setting up his own consulting business, and enjoying an outdoors life, where he and his family can indulge their shared passion for mountain biking and “getting into adventures”.
In 2015, Bell’s consulting practice merged into Balance Chartered Accountants. These days, he is responsible for consulting engagements, as well as developing a business advisory practice line.
“Part of our structuring involved assigning a role to each partner,” explains Bell. “My role is customer experience.” He says this highlights the firm’s shift away from simply providing a service to concentrating on the experience each client enjoys. It’s a step Russell believes his clients genuinely appreciate.
As a Chartered Accountant in practice, Bell delights in the variety of his role. “In consulting, every day is different, and that’s exciting,” he explains. “What I enjoy most is helping people achieve their dreams and ambitions with their own businesses – and getting out there and being with our clients.”
"We're seeing a movement away from truth into things like false news. People are going to be looking for people they can trust and rely upon."
Bell says that being a Chartered Accountant has opened a lot of doors: “It's enabled me to work with some really fantastic people – and fantastic clients.”
“All of the learning I have gained through being a Chartered Accountant – and working with other CAs has contributed to me helping my clients. The support that's available to Chartered Accountants enables us to put ourselves in the best position to help our clients be successful.
“But the best thing about being a Chartered Accountant is being part of a community of professionals.”
Being open to change
Bell says young professionals starting out as CAs need to continue their professional education through a commitment to learning and being open to change and opportunities. This reflects his views that innovation and disruption are part of the future, though he believes they also provide a world of opportunities.
Indeed, helping his clients deal with disruption is something Bell looks forward to. “Our clients are going to rely on us to provide advice, and guide them through what will be a challenging time of change,” he says.
Looking ahead, Bell sees CAs playing what he describes as a “crucial role” in the future.
“We're seeing a movement away from truth into things like false news. People are going to be looking for people they can trust and rely upon,” says Bell. “This is somewhere that the Chartered Accounting profession can really make a difference. Ethics underpin what we do, and that gives us an opportunity to differentiate ourselves – and be relied upon and valued in our communities.”