Trudi Ballantyne FCA is a director of the accounting firm the Business Results Group based in Te Puke in the Bay of Plenty region of New Zealand. This means many of her clients, and indeed her fellow Chartered Accountants in the region, rely heavily on the dairy and kiwifruit industries.
Ballantyne who worked for several chartered accounting practices, in Whangarei, Tokoroa and Taumarunui before landing in Te Puke about 18 years ago, grew up on a dairy farm in Northland.
Consequently, the 51-year-old says having a background in dairy farming and agriculture has proved invaluable. "I can open a conversation with farmers very easily about the day-to-day running of a farm," she says. "And that I know what I'm talking about when it comes to their farming operations helps build trust with my clients."
"I love being a Chartered Accountant. It's why I come to work every day."
Her knowledge of kiwifruit, for example, proved beneficial when the industry was almost brought to its knees by PSA, a rare vine disease. Ballantyne and her staff responded to the PSA threat by learning more about it and the major tax issues it created for her clients. "Growers had to cut their vines out, which would have meant that it was non-deductible expenditure, and it would have meant that they had some massive variations and fluctuations in income."
"We organised meetings with other Chartered Accountants in Te Puke, as well as meetings between Inland Revenue Department (IRD), Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ), and other affected parties," recalls Ballantyne, who also chairs CA ANZ's rural advisory committee in New Zealand. "With that, we were able to get some change to the legislation, which helped growers manage their income."
The work never stops
Office life can be hectic at times for Ballantyne, who meets with up to four clients a day. "I might be dealing with anything from compliance issues to helping clients make big decisions about where to go next or what to do now," she says.
"Or even just answering their simple questions about anything to do with updating the car, to retirement, to succession planning."
"At the same time, there are regular internal meetings where the 12 members of the Business Results Group bounce ideas off each other," says Ballantyne. "We've got a great team on board, and we want to see them grow and improve."
Conversely, the mundane paperwork is the worst component of Ballantyne's job. She elaborates, "The emails, in particular, drive me insane sometimes, but we're working on ways that we can combat that and reduce those internal emails in particular."
Away from the office, the FCA enjoys living at Pukehina Beach, which she describes as a "hidden secret in the Bay of Plenty".
She continues, "I enjoy walking on the beach and having lots of fun there with my husband and my children when they are home. I also enjoy a bit of kayaking, adventure racing, trail running, walking. And that keeps me busy really."
What also keeps Ballantyne busy is her vocation as an accountant. She reveals that she'd had never considered any other career, saying, "It is my everything. I love being a Chartered Accountant. It's why I come to work every day."
As for young CAs seeking successful career paths, Ballantyne urges them to explore "all possibilities and follow their passion. [Success] won't happen overnight, but if you're persistent and you keep on doing what you're doing and doing it well, the rewards will come."
Moreover, Ballantyne is excited about the opportunities technology will afford future accountants. "It's going to be more exciting than just doing number-crunching. You'll be able to delve further into people's businesses than you've ever been able to before because you've got much more timely information."