Date posted: 16/05/2019 3 min read

Meet a member: Peter Haley CA

Meet Peter Haley CA, director of Vincents’ Forensic Services division.

In brief

  • Peter Haley followed in his father’s footsteps to become an accountant
  • Specialising meant he could change his career focus, without having to reinvent himself
  • He says that accurate valuations rely heavily on the experience of the valuation specialist

Peter Haley CA followed in his father's footsteps to build a career as an accountant. But after 15 years in general accounting, he needed a change.

He chose to upskill with Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand's specialist qualifications in both business valuation and forensic accounting.

"I had been exposed to valuation work over the years, so it seemed like a good way to make a change, without having to entirely reinvent myself," says Peter

As a partner and director at Vincents, he's is one of ten directors in a 45-person division, that provides clients with forensic accounting and litigation support.

Peter Haley CA

Peter Haley CA

"It's a top-heavy structure, but the nature of the work requires experienced people," says Peter. "Because the market is so small and there is little reliable valuation data available, accurate valuations depend heavily on the valuer's experience and expertise."

Peter says he enjoys the variety and complexity of the work.

"Some practitioners think valuation is straightforward, but each one is different, with its own nuances," he says.

"You need to understand the drivers of the business – it's not just a matter of averaging financials over the last three years. There's been a lot more volatility in earnings over the past 10 years that impacts the valuation, even for established businesses."

"You need to have conviction of your opinion, and stand behind your valuation. Your client might want a particular result, but if that's not your opinion, you need to tell them what you think."

In recent years, Peter says he's been involved in valuing more start-up businesses, which provide their own set of challenges.

"Sometimes they don't have a real value – and are just an idea. For example, we were recently involved in a matrimonial case, where a start-up was involved. The first time we looked at the business, it was hard to determine the real value – and work out whether it was even viable and would survive," he says.

"At that time, we provided a preliminary opinion that educated our clients about the issues – rather than a formal valuation. Three years later, with the divorce settlement still in progress, the business had found a financial backer to help it break into the market, and was starting to generate returns."

"So this time, we were able to revisit the case and provide a final opinion to our client."

Peter says that one of the biggest challenges for valuation specialists is ensuring a steady stream of work.

"It's not like compliance and tax return work that comes back every year. We get repeat business from law firms and other accountants. But it's not like they have a valuation requirement every week, so it could be a year between matters."

"That's challenging for marketing – you need to stay front of mind, and hope they remember you. But if you've been around long enough, and have a good reputation, the then the work will come in."

Peter says it can also be difficult when your professional opinion is not what your client wants to hear.

"In litigation work, your obligation is to the court, and not your client," he says.

"You need to have conviction of your opinion, and stand behind your valuation. Your client might want a particular result, but if that's not your opinion, you need to tell them what you think."

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