In this Issue

July 2009 Newsletter

From the desk of our CEO, Andrew Blunden

"Are they green shoots of recovery or just weeds?" the headlines ask.

With all these plant references, it makes you wonder if a stint of gardening leave for everyone is probably just the answer. It certainly seems to be the solution for the major legal firms in Australia. So far this year, seven out of the top ten Australian firms by revenue announced formal redundancy programs. And graduate recruitment is being slashed.

This is in response to their client's insisting on reduced fees, a decline in demand for legal services and more price competition.

But when the recovery inevitably arrives, there is a real risk that these firms will be caught short. Not only will there be a shortage of graduates with one or two years experience, but how many of those experienced lawyers who accept the redundancy packages will set up practices of their own - maintaining fee pressures for many more years to come? Perhaps law firms of the future will be smaller, leaner and more affordable? Hmmm.

It certainly represents a good example of how companies today need to prepare for a future business environment that may be completely different from today. Yesterday's major customer may not be around tomorrow - and that profitable product that sold like "hot cakes" before the recession may soon be a real challenge to sell. The keys to survival through this turbulent period are:

  1. Strong, competent and responsive management
  2. Flexibility

As I recently told participants at a business advisory seminar: If a business does not have the quality leadership and advisers it needs, it will struggle. And if it is locked into fixed, expensive cost structures and rigid, inflexible processes that can't adapt to these rapidly changing market dynamics it will be difficult to avoid those icebergs that are "dead ahead".

This is the time for companies to seriously evaluate their future strategies. Deferring those important decisions, and simply hoping that the recession will not affect the business too much in the long term, will not put you ahead of the competition.

Let's all be in a position to misquote Churchill:

"While the Global Financial Crisis will do its worst, my business will do its best"!

The unkindest cuts of all

An example of companies making cuts that have come back to haunt them is in the financial services sector.

ABC News reported last week that a survey by the recruitment firm Robert Half found that some companies moved too quickly last year in sacking staff and are now having to pay top dollar to secure the right talent. "Firms that let go of their staff because of uncertainty in the economy have found that they haven't been able to re-fill these positions with skilled staff when their needs have arisen" Robert Half's Australian director was quoted as saying.

Of the 404 finance and human resources managers polled, 60 per cent believe there is a shortage of high-qualified finance and accounting professionals available in Australia.

Despite the financial downturn, companies are still required to meet their financial reporting, taxation and  accounting obligations. In fact, in difficult economic times it is probably more important than ever for them to receive accurate and timely financial information about their business, their cashflows and their performance against forecast.

It is therefore no surprise that those firms that cutback on their finance staff a year ago are now re-evaluating the wisdom of their decision.

But should these companies be paying significantly more for these people? They shouldn't have to.

At Part Time Professionals we represent over 250 qualified and experienced accountants who work for companies on a contractor basis. By representing individual self-employed accountants, the cost is often significantly lower than any other recruitment solution. And as our CFO Network members are contractors, you don't have to worry about those expensive employment overheads.

If you need an experienced accountant to help you through this challenging business environment, please give a call on 1300 79 1946. Like many businesses throughout Australia, you will be very glad you did!

Tasmania on the map!

After recently presenting at the National Institute of Accountants Tasmanian Congress, Part Time Professionals are delighted to welcome our first Tasmanian members of the CFO Network .

We are now represented in every state in Australia!

So, if you or your business connections want to be introduced to a CFO Network Member - we can help you whatever state your business is in!

Just give us a call - no obligation - on 1300 79 1946 - and Jennifer and Yvette will be delighted to assist you.

A View from the Coalface. Charles' story...

During these tough times many organisations are focusing on trying to fix the problems of the past in order to survive the present. And so they are cutting overheads, improving working capital management, focusing on profitable customers, etc.

Instead of only focusing on the past, however, organisations must also give some thought to the future. It is unlikely that demand after this recession will come from the exact same customers for the exact same services. Organisations need to consider the future and whether their existing commercial offering will be relevant to the resurgence in demand when it arises.

An example of how things are changing is in the Telecommunications and IT industry.

Australia is about to undertake the largest infrastructure project in its history by rolling out the National Broadband Network. This industry initiative is being funded by the Federal government. It is an industry with a record of rapid transition with many players leaving the market and new partnerships being formed. Service providers in this industry will have to completely rethink what they sell, to whom they market, and the best business model to maximise returns and minimise risk.

Charles, a new member of our CFO Network, has been helping organisations in the IT and Telecommunications industry understand what this future means for them. He is a consultant with a strong commercial focus. Not only has he helped organisations make decisions about their future growth strategies but his professional accounting qualifications ensure that these decisions are grounded in a sound financial framework.

These skills are transferable across any industries that are experiencing change - and what industries are not?

If you would like to contact Charles for some ideas on mapping out your business future, just give us a call at Part Time Professionals on 1300 79 1946 and we can arrange an obligation-free meeting.

The Bottom Line

Of course, it could only happen in Spain!

The UK-based Financial Times reports that BBVA, Spain's second biggest bank, has posed an unusual question to its staff as part of its latest cost-cutting drive. Could you take a five year holiday at 30 per cent pay and with health care benefits on top...and a guaranteed job when you return?

This offer was posed to its 29,954 Spanish employees. Perhaps anticipating a 100% acceptance rate, the bank added the condition that it reserved the right to refuse those who apply.

Perhaps this may be one of the most creative solutions to the financial crisis. I wonder if their Chief Financial Officer and the accounting team accepted the offer?         Ole!

BUT, not to be beaten, workers at the design and marketing company, onebestway in Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK  introduced a "naked Friday" and stripped bare in an attempt to boost team spirit after a round of redundancies and a visit by a business psychologist.

Now there's a solution to the Global Financial Crisis we had definitely never thought of!

(Unfortunately, Part Time Professionals doesn't yet provide business psychologists! Ed.)

About Part Time Professionals

Part Time Professionals™ is wholly owned and operated in Australia. Our principals together have over 40 years experience in public accounting and as CFO's and Directors in multiple companies - both listed and unlisted. They are members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia, CPA Australia, the National Tax Agents Association, the Australian Institute of Company Directors, the Financial Executives Institute and the National Institute of Accountants.

Our aim is to help companies source the most experienced CFO, executive and corporate accounting talent, in the most cost-effective way!

We are constantly updating our website, so take a look at for more information or call us on 1300 79 1946 to discuss your needs.


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