Not your average accountant.
Making a difference is one of the core values at The Real Thiel. I started The Real Thiel with the ethos that even if we have just a little, we have something to give - and I don’t just mean giving money to charities either. I look to make a difference to three specific groups:
As accountants we are in business primarily to have a positive impact on the books. What we want to do is have an impact on our clients well-being and like-minded communities, be that in the arts industry, the venues we perform in, the schools where we learn, or the broader community and people/places in need.
We aim to run an ethical, community-focused, positive, encouraging, stimulating, open, and inclusive workplace that offers our own people an opportunity, improved lives, education and strong working relationships.
We are all built as individuals with unique experiences, strengths, vulnerabilities, preferences, interests, and values – and we at The Real Thiel place high importance on individuality.
I never felt like I fit in; I was too square for the creative scene, but too flamboyant for audit; I loved spreadsheets, but was also a burlesque dancer! I never pretended to fit in and I’m proud of myself for that because it wasn’t easy. It wasn’t until I decided to own my differences and design my own life around that decision, that I felt alive. I thought ‘stuff it, I’ll start my own accounting business where I can work for the people and businesses that I love and that need me most, and I’ll do it all with pink hair if I choose!’
To me, ‘individuality’ means knowing yourself first and foremost, and then learning to love your differences and creating opportunity from them. It also means respecting others' individuality. We don't all have to agree all of the time, but we should listen and be open-minded and consider other people's differing ideas. We start by understanding our client - their needs, wants, strengths and weaknesses. Then we face inward and see how we can use our unique skills and passions to align with this. We’re not going to do things the way they’ve always been done – we have to move forward. I want our policies, processes, systems, language, everything to be ever evolving. I want my staff to have roles and responsibilities not because that is a spot that needs to be filled, but because we have recognised their individual strengths and ambitions and they align.
For our clients, here are some of the things we do differently:
I want my people to feel comfortable to be themselves at work, and my clients to come to me with no shame, no matter how many years of tax you might be behind on. You never need to pretend to be anything else but yourself around me.
As your accountant I think encouragement is super important and something a lot of accountants forget about or have as a low priority. It goes a long way though. How much more confident do you feel when you know you’re supported or when someone believes in you? At The Real Thiel we want to offer encouragement to those that struggle with math and numbers, or who need some support in facing daunting opportunities, or who feel overwhelmed with the workload of small business management. We get it and we are right here beside you, every step of the way.
My role is to encourage and build up my team so that they can be supported and empowered to encourage our clients. No one can be expected to do and be everything to everyone at all times. What we can promise though is to be your financially savvy friend that will be there to pick you up when you fall, to cheer you on in the good times and to persuade you to keep going (and to keep your books tidy of course).
If you have the right energy and drive, are eager to learn, listen well, surround yourself with the right people, outsource the things you are not good at, and be honest about when you need a helping hand - then YOU CAN DO IT! We believe in you. We are here to help.
Education is important to us and you. I have never understood how it’s not compulsory for every school kid to learn the basics of the Australian tax system, basic savings and budgeting techniques, and also what various financial terms mean. Knowledge is power, as they say, and to run a smart business and hopefully live off your work, I believe you need some understanding of the financial elements of your business. I think you should know about how to calculate profit, how to estimate your tax payable/refundable, what is likely to be taxed or deductible (your tax agent might still need to confirm this for you), and what your margins look like.
How are you meant to get this understanding? It’s not like you magically become an expert in excel or accounting overnight when you register your ABN. It's not like you have a spare few years, or any interest, to complete a Bachelor of Commerce. So what’s your option besides blindly trusting your accountant and signing documents you haven’t even read, let alone understand?
We believe there needs to be a middle-ground where you can learn what you need to, and have someone 'on call' for questions along the way, but don’t have to be an accountant – you can leave that bit to me! I have prioritised education as a key value so that the accountants on our team will always value your need for a solid explanation.
As a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants I have a code of ethics which I must abide by. Instead of making you read the massive ethics guide, which you were never going to do, here’s the short and sweet version:
These are the main points and are common sense in my opinion, but it’s also good for clients to be able to read.
We have included ethics specifically though because I want to create a culture of honesty within the team, and our clients, to always act with respect, kindness and curiosity. So, if something isn’t quite right, we're going to tell you asap. If the numbers reveal some bad news, we won't beat around the bush. If something confuses or worries us, we're going to ask why and get to the bottom of it. We don't judge those we work with. We will be friendly and approachable, but always professional. We are kind and respectful to our communities and environments. We work together to bring out the best in each other.
We pride ourselves on upholding these values at The Real Thiel and we hope you feel the same.
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The creative industry is a neurodiverse community and we do our best to cater to ‘our people’ by providing choices of how you prefer to absorb information. So whether you like to read the fine print, watch a video or listen to audio - we've got an option for you.
We appreciate that no two brains are the same and we understand that we don’t have every accessibility option available, but we do have more than most in our line of work. We want our neuro-spicy friends to feel welcomed, considered and catered for, which is why we’re always looking at ways of improving our services and processes as we learn more ourselves.
Tax is a process that you are involved in and we need certain things from you to get it done. We love a process and system, but you deserve choices.
Here are just some of the ways we’re currently doing this now: