Best Practice

A Good Read

If you are looking for a good read, I recommend “Never Split the Difference-negotiating as if your life depended on it” by Chris Voss.  This read is for anyone who does any form of negotiating, which, let’s face  it, who of us doesn’t on a daily basis (unless of course you are not having any contact with any other human being during your day).

Many years ago (too many to remember) I read the book “Getting to Yes” by Roger Fischer and William Ury that was for many years considered the book to read if you wanted to learn something about negotiating.

Enter Chris Voss who has, in his book, challenged the way we should look at negotiating based on his years spent as a FBI trained hostage negotiator.

A couple of interesting points Chris makes are:

“”No” is the start of the negotiation, not the end of it”

“The most powerful word in negotiations is “Fair””

“When calculating the final amount, use precise, nonround numbers like, say, $37,893 rather than $38,000.  It gives the number credibility and weight.”

“In a study of the components of lying, Havard Business School professor Deepak Malhotra and his co-authors found that, on average, liars use more words than truth tellers and use far more third-person pronouns” 

Having recently finished reading this book I found a lot of it applies in both the private and professional life.  So, if you are looking for something to read and enjoy while at the same time learn a few skills that will help you in your personal life as well as your business then pop down to your local bookstore ($22.99 at QBD) or go on-line (from $8.30 on Amazon) and grab this good read.

David Balwin Tax Accounting CFO Business Advice

Choosing an Accountant

Choosing an accountant is much like choosing other professionals like a solicitor or plumber or insurance broker.  The most important thing to work out is whether the accountant can meet your needs and support you in the way you need.

The accounting profession has changed over the years and will continue to do so into the future.  Many, when they think about an accountant, think about tax.  An accountant can do your tax return each year, provided they are a registered tax agent. You can check their registration on the online tax and BAS agent register.

Compliance will always be a part of an Accountant’s services however many accountants also provide services which add value to particularly business owners and people with investments.  Accountants can provide tax planning advice, business advice, systems and processes, budget and cashflow as well as general CFO (Chief Financial Officer) services, by way of example.

So, before you approach a prospective accountant, know what you want to get from the relationship.  Once this is clear, when contacting a prospective accountant, here are some questions you may wish to ask:

  • What is the accountant’s specialisation/s? – What services do they offer?  Do they regularly deal with people in similar situations to you? Do they have the right experience to help with your specific needs?
  • What is their level of customer service? – Do they respond to phone calls and emails promptly? Do they communicate in plain language with limited use of jargon? Do you enjoy your interaction with them?
  • What are the accountant’s fees? – What will you be charged, and when?
  • Does the accountant hold appropriate registration for the services offered? – If they are going to do your tax return, is your accountant a registered Tax Agent (refer above)? If they are providing investment advice, they must have an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) or be an authorised representative of an AFSL holder, check the financial advisers register.
  • Is the accountant appropriately qualified? – Do they have appropriate tertiary qualifications and are they a member of a professional association? Examples of professional bodies include the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia, Certified Practicing Accountants Australia and the Institute of Public Accountants. Professional bodies impose certain standards on their members and can deal with complaints if you’re not happy with your accountant.
  • Ask for references/testimonials – subject to privacy requirements, an accountant maybe able to put you in contact with some current clients for you to talk to. Alternatively, check the accountant’s website, Facebook page, Google reviews (to name but a few) to find any testimonials or reviews that may contribute to your decision making.  Caution must be taken when considering this information as only the best reviews/testimonials will be published if the accountant is in control of the publication.  On the flip side, if there is only one or two not so good reviews, check out how the accountant has responded to them – sometimes there are two sides to the story.

Sally Balwin Balanix Solutions

Surviving Working and Living Together

“Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.”  Helen Keller

Let me just put this out there before I go any further – I am not a psychiatrist, psychologist nor a relationship therapist.  But I am a mother and wife who happens to work and live with my husband and have done so now for over 10 years.

Working and living with your partner brings many benefits as well as pitfalls.  For many couples, spending quality time together is limited to evenings and weekends.  Snatching this time can be a juggling act as this time also has to accommodate shopping, daily chores, paying bills, catching up with friends, gym and hobby time, as well as, for many, time with their children and their activities and homework.

Couples who live and work together, or co-prenuers as I like to refer to them as, face the challenge of being together 24/7.  However, this arrangement can lend to more flexibility in how activities are done and how time is spent.  This can often bring people closer together, as each appreciate what the other is doing and going through and can offer appropriate advice and support.  Co-prenuers can also establish daily routines such as commuting together, eating together and sharing sleeping patterns which can support harmony and calm routines.

On the flip side, being with each other day in and day out can result in “too much of a good thing” causing conflict, stress and general misery for all involved.

Co-prenuering doesn’t suit everyone – and that’s OK.  The first rule to surviving co-prenuering is to be honest about yourself and your partner in relation to whether your personalities really lend to working and living together.  Be OK with saying no and walking away from the idea if you know in your heart of hearts it’s not going to work for you.

Many couples think it’s a good idea and get into it only to discover that, usually their personal relationship is suffering as a result.  Again, set the expectation that it is OK to walk away from the co-prenuering if you feel it is best all round.

My next learning as a co-prenuer is that you have to separate your personal and work life.  You need to establish rules and boundaries in relation to when work can be discussed at home and how home life behaviours don’t enter the workplace.  These Chinese walls are very important to ensuring that you nurture your personal relationship and not just your work one.  Co-prenuers discuss and agree on when work can be discussed at home and when it can’t.  Some even go so far as making rules as to rooms at home that can and can’t be used to discuss work.  At the business, co-prenuers set limits on discussion of private life, with some establishing symbols that identify the working person as oppose to the life partner; for example, some women use their maiden name professionally and their married name in family life; some couples establish that when they cross the entry of  the work place they “are not privately a couple” and therefore look upon each other as merely co-workers until the cross the entry to leave work for the day.

For most, we talk to our partner differently at home than when we are in public.  In conflict at home we are less inhibited than if we think someone can hear or see the argument.  I think we can all agree it is not a good look going at each other in front of customers and/or staff.  Also, without rules in relation to how to communicate with each other, blurred content and spillover can result.  By this I mean, when you’re living and working together, a disagreement about one aspect of your lives can quickly descend into an excuse to bring up everything else that’s bothering you – “OK so I forgot to advise the supplier that there was a time requirement on that delivery but you left your dirty socks in the lounge room again.”

The opposite can also apply.  The workplace is not the place for lovey dovey.  No matter what business you are in, you need to project professionalism to customers and staff.  There are very few businesses I can think of where kissing, hugging, flirting etc can be accommodated, at least not publicly.

There are many successful co-prenuers such as Bill and Melinda Gates and Gerry Harvey and Katie Page.  But, alas, there are also many such as Sonny and Cher and the two couples in ABBA who just didn’t quite make it.

My final suggestion to survive working and living together is to establish clear roles and responsibilities, as well as expectations, in both your work and private lives and be careful not to let egos get in the way.

Sally Balwin Balanix Solutions

AUSkey Fraud Alert

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has recently detected cases of identity thieves fraudulently obtaining AUSkeys linked to legitimate businesses. Once an Auskey has been allocated, access is gained to the Business Portal so that fraudulent BASs can be lodged and bank details updated to accounts that are not controlled by the entity.

The ATO is able to detect the activity and take preventative action quickly by cancelling the affected AUSkey and working with the affected businesses to protect their online security and monitor activity on their accounts.

Take the following steps to protect your business and to ensure your identity has not been compromised:

  • check access manager to understand who in your business has AUSkey access and that their level of access is appropriate to their role;
  • remove access for employees who no longer work for you; and
  • check the financial institution and contact details you have recorded with the ATO are correct.

Report any unknown or suspicious AUSkeys allocated to your organisation by calling 1300 287 539 between 8.00am and 6.00pm, Monday to Friday.

(Source:  ATO Website – )

David Balwin Tax Accounting CFO Business Advice

Should You and Your Staff be available 24/7

On 1 January 2017, France employees gained the legal right to avoid work emails outside working hours.  The new law, dubbed the “right to disconnect”, applies to companies with more than 50 workers.  These companies will be obliged to draw up a charter of good conduct, setting out the hours when staff are not supposed to send or answer emails.

Foundations for the new law support the premises that employees who are expected to check and reply to their work emails out of hours are not being paid fairly for their overtime, and that the practice carries a risk of stress, burnout, sleep problems and relationship difficulties.

With the increasing convenience of technology, lines are blurred in relation to “office hours” and “out of office hours”.

As reported in the Courier Mail on 1 January 2017 (Office Emails on Holidays a Rising Trend, Melanie Burgess), as many as three in five Australians check work emails while on holidays.

So, should you and your staff be available 24/7?

What we at Balanix Solutions strive to achieve is a balance between work and home, something we encourage clients and colleagues to also strive for.  While in the short-term there may well be productivity gains in being available 24/7, the hidden cost can include;

  • setting long term expectations of availability;
  • kids not spending quality time with parents and thinking that is the norm (which then becomes a generational issue);
  • break-down of relationships ;
  • burn-out; and
  • Increased absenteeism.

For those who believe that they could not operate a business without being available 24/7 ask your family and friends how they feel about having their time interrupted by the constant attention to technology.

David Balwin Tax Accounting CFO Business Advice