Listen to this episode here: Invest On Your Team

Noel Tiufino, the Managing Partner of My Accounts shares his personal and professional growth experience in the new episode of TALKING NUMBERS with Paul Jansz. He also shares in the episode that the worthiest investment is in your team.

Could you tell us about your story?

Growing up, I wanted to be a sports star – basketball was my first love. Then I realised I’m too short and not that good at it. And then I think I’ve then fallen into the music side of things. I was in bands, writing music, and doing that kind of thing.

I studied psychology at University. I was trying to do something with music while studying psychology, also ended up doing what I now know is bookkeeping but had no idea back then. So, I was washing dishes at a cafe in Narrabeen Driftwood, teaching guitar and I was doing some admin for this for a mechanic in Frenchs Forest, whose name’s Harry. He required me to track income and expenses. I basically built a mini P&L on Excel – I didn’t know it was called a P&L at that time either.

I was still looking for work and a company had me helping out their admin when I was 19. So ever since, I worked my way up from basically admin assistant, into now the managing partner 13 years later.

What did you have to do to grow up to become the person that you are today?

I think I just had it wrong in the earliest stage of my career. I was trying to embody something or be somebody without doing the basics of business. It was like being excited about buying my first suit. I went and bought the most expensive suit I could afford. Whereas now I’m like – what’s on sale? I would be spending four times more on suits back then than I do now.

I think that kind of that naive confidence had its advantages at the time, but not always. It helped me to grow into a sales role. But it’s not good enough for becoming a managing partner, managing investment, feeling the responsibility, and having a team.

How did you make that kind of transformation?

Matthew Rowe has been very influential to me. He said it was quite easy to harness me, and he was just trying to get me focused. He likes to coach. I think that his method for coaching me was very good. I’m also very lucky to be able to reflect on that when I’m managing my team and trying to lead my team.

Let’s talk about the accounting industry. What are your favourite parts?

Definitely the accounting partner community. What I’ve really loved about our industry is, it is competitive, but it doesn’t feel like that when we’re all around a table chatting. We’re sharing very openly, and talking about common problems, facts, and figures. And the knowledge-sharing between these competitors is amazing. It’s a breath of fresh air. We foster and cultivate each other. It is one of my greatest joys, and being a part of it is something I really like doing.

I also love it when we talk about topics but not the technical side. This is probably my psych side speaking. For example, at the height of the Weinstein Saga, I actually hosted us a #MeToo movement lunch. And we talked about what does it take for the leaders in this community to push equality, and what does that look like? I interviewed Katarina Taurian, from Accountants Daily at the time, Jessica Ellerm, CEO of Zuper Superannuation at the time, and had a discussion with the team. I found these discussions significantly more rewarding, and I like discussing things like that. I like bringing things that are periphery, not technical things. It might be a little selfish, but I find that more interesting.

Let’s talk about My Accounts.

We’re a company, having offices in the major cities across Australia. We serve small to medium sized businesses, and actively provide that service in partnership with them. Our mission is to show business owners the numbers that matter.

We always want to make sure that there are definite milestones and markers that we’re producing. We have built the core value of our services around reporting, and more importantly, reporting the numbers that matter – that’s what we do in a nutshell.

Tell me about the numbers. What changed with the growth of the business by bringing in external investors to the business?

The focus shift to be more strategic, more planned. We started the basics of a solid business, get that balance sheet really strong, then we can do exciting things. Looking at Xero, Uber, Airbnb and all these brands – it is the new norm to run a business at a loss. Cash burn is very normal. We’re in a professional services business, is it normal for me to do things in similar ways? I think we really shifted a lot of things. We have heavily strengthened the balance sheet now, and we’re looking into doing something really exciting. But it had shown me how to mature and grow more sophisticated business.

When you talk about the refocus from a strategic point of view, do you specifically mean bringing that focus into improve?

I think many of the non-exec directors have the really big business type of mindsets, with a lot of systems and processes. This is a perspective I don’t have. I know that they’re leading businesses that across every continent with employees in the thousands. When I sit in board meetings with them, and they asked me a question which I already know that whatever answer I was going to give is probably wrong. But I found their ability to show a perspective that you haven’t seen both challenging and exciting. I love to learn.

What’s the growth plans for the business?

At the time when it was kind of kicking off, we didn’t have aspirations to get to where we are now. Now we are definitely in a strong position to do exciting things. And I think, particularly from this coming FY20 and FY22, we’ll be looking at expanding and definitely make some moves in the market.

How do you guys go about charging subscriptions?

It’s a fixed monthly fee. We track subscription type metrics, such as monthly recurring revenue, cost per click and acquisition costs to name a few. What we’ve found in our 13 years is the scope you can dictate to some extent and make it as efficient as possible. For My Accounts, pricing model comes down to frequency of tasks, mostly more so than transaction volume within a reasonable limit.

What’s one piece of advice that you can share with our listeners that you learned in your career?

I think the success of My Accounts has been based on the team. And the more and more I invest into the team, the better and better everything seems to get. That sounds so simple and straightforward. But I’ve seen businesses might map short-term decisions relating to team members, as opposed to maybe sacrifice now for the long-term benefit. And I would encourage you to always try and make the long-term decision, particularly when it comes to team. Invest on your team, do everything you can for them and take leadership seriously. That’s what can drive the business to success.

With the pandemic, there are people who had lost jobs, pay cuts, pay freezes, with the CPI increase. But we’ll be giving decent pay increases for the coming financial year. And I think making those kinds of decisions are important to us and obviously to the team. We were making those decisions in lieu of something else. We took some funds out of a project, to help with internal process, and it is a significant upfront investment.

Let’s invest into our team. That’s important to me and I’m proud of it.