Ged Stenhouse, Partner, Assurance and Advisory at RSM Bird Cameron in Canberra, has achieved a lot since joining the firm nearly a decade ago.
Since Ged joined RSM Bird Cameron in 2006, the Assurance and Advisory division has grown from 10 to a team of 25. Ged was the National Training Partner for the firm, and has now been appointed as the National Head of Assurance and Advisory for RSM Bird Cameron.
RSM Bird Cameron is the 7th largest network of independent accounting and consulting firms in the world, delivering expert corporate financial and advisory accounting services to clients across diverse industry sectors.
“In Australia, we are the largest mid-tier accounting firm that has national ownership and profit sharing. This unique one-firm structure enables our clients to more readily connect to our extensive networks and expertise,” says Ged.
As National Head of the Assurance and Advisory division at RSM Bird Cameron, Ged is part of a broader national and international team.
The new role includes responsibility for coordinating the technical training needs of graduates right through to partners.
“It’s a very engaging role. I work with RSM partners in Australia and overseas to discuss the issues we all face in our profession and to share resources,” Ged says.
As part of his new position and within the larger international framework, Ged is now a member of a number of national and international RSM committees.
As a member of the National Technical Education and Quality Assurance Committee (NTEQA), Ged liaises with the National Training Manager to ensure key findings of the quality assurance program are communicated to partners and principles within the firm.
Ged is also on the Transnational Assurance Services Executive Committee (TASEC).
“This is an executive committee of the board of RSM International. We oversee key areas such as quality, methodology, consistency and international inspections,” explains Ged.
“Being a part of TASEC means we’re able to seek the assistance, support and resources of other countries.
“There’s only six of us on this committee the US, UK and Australia always have a seat, and others are elected onto the committee from other member firms,” Ged mentions.
Introducing RSM Bird Cameron
In Canberra, RSM Bird Cameron is a closely connected firm, not only to their interstate offices, but also to their clients, community and fellow businesses.
While it has the support and expertise of its international affiliates and other national offices, it is staffed by Canberra residents with expertise in and knowledge of the unique Canberra market.
The office was established over 30 years ago as a one man operation. Now, the firm employs 100 staff in Canberra and has a national partnership of 28 offices, with a large regional presence.
A well-established, reputable firm operating out of the nation’s capital, RSM Bird Cameron has a unique understanding of the environment in which it operates.
The Assurance and Advisory team in Canberra
Building on his track record as an experienced auditor, Ged brings extensive expertise to the Canberra business community. He runs the division together with business partner, Rodney Miller.
The division looks after clients from a very small size, right through to medium and large enterprises.
Usually under contract for the Auditor General, the team provides Financial Statement Audits for large public sector entities, as well as being appointed by shareholders or members in the private sector.
“We also carry out Internal Audit services, mainly for government departments, and advisory services such as Management Consulting,” Ged explains.
And while some view the current state of change within various government departments as a challenge, Ged approaches it from a different angle.
“The way I see it, change equals risk which equals opportunity. Where are these departments going to find savings and how are they going to do things better?”
The point of difference at RSM Bird Cameron
Considering the recent public service overhaul and the volatile state of the Canberra job market presently, B2B magazine enquired about RSM’s recruitment opportunities.
“We have flexible hours and we’re proud of our workplace diversity – at the moment, we have a relatively even split of men and women working in the Canberra office.
“The firm is committed to providing a work environment that is respectful of individual needs, four of our managers are off on maternity leave, and we endeavour to provide an environment that helps employees balance the changing demands of work and personal life,” Ged says.
“We believe strongly in providing opportunities for graduates and focus on maintaining and improving quality, as that is the cornerstone of our reputation. We like to recruit people with direct experience in what we’re doing.”
From July through to September, RSM Bird Cameron engages in the secondment of overseas staff from the RSM International network to assist throughout the busy period.
“Working for a national firm and an international network also provides staff at RSM Bird Cameron opportunity to reach across Australia and beyond,” says Ged.
Additionally, each year the firm holds an international conference, offering member countries the opportunity to further develop relationships – especially around referrals.
Not only does the firm work with large clients in Federal Government and the not for- profit sector, but prominent clubs and organisations within the community as well.
“We work with peak bodies and other key government departments, particularly in the consulting or advisory field,” Ged says.
Challenges facing the audit profession
Internationally, challenges arise when varying accounting standards and regulatory practices apply to different countries and member firms.
“For instance, when work is required for global companies around the world, there are variances between the United States’ Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS),” Ged explains.
An issue also impacting many businesses, Ged discusses the follow-on effects of digital disruption.
“Someone will come up with a way to partly or completely automate the audit, therefore part of our service wouldn’t be as required.”
“Successful implementation of technology and software is always important. We want to be efficient and effective in the way we’re doing our work and working with clients.”
In addition to this, the recent Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act (2013) means compliance and reporting requirements have changed considerably for the Federal Government.
Part of the role of the Advisory division is to ensure that the Federal Government is complying, both in the initial transition period and beyond.
Ged explains, “There’s more accountability, especially for the individual. The good thing is that we have the facilities and connections here in Canberra to assist with such a change.”
“As is to be expected when you work in a regulatory environment, there are pressures for us too.
“We used to be self-regulated, but it’s all about public protection now,” Ged remarks.
There is one other thing that Ged would like to see changed – the rules around getting a security clearance.
“It would be great if the government could see a way of separating the citizenship process from the baseline security clearance process,” he explains.
“To work for the Federal Government, you need to have at least a baseline security clearance in most cases and to get security clearance you need to be an Australian citizen. That often rules out anybody who is not an Australian citizen to work on government projects or clients which limits the talent pool for companies like RSM Bird Cameron considerably.”
As a passionate cyclist, Ged recently decided to set the bar even higher. He will ride the 1200 kilometres from Adelaide to Melbourne in this year’s Tour de Cure to aid cancer research. To participate, Ged had to commit to a minimum fundraising target of $12,000 which he is pleased to have reached already. He hopes to raise even more for the cause in the run up to the event.
‘I have lost too many friends to cancer and I was personally very lucky that doctors caught my melanoma in time. Others I have known were not so lucky. The funds raised will aid vital cancer research, support and prevention projects,” he says.
A new era for the Canberra team
Frank Lo Pilato, Partner in the Turn around and Insolvency division took over as managing partner of the Canberra office mid last year.
“This has meant a fresh look at how we do things. Our lease is up at the end of the year, and we are planning to relocate. We’ve been in the City area for over 30 years so it will be a nice change. The firm is growing so we are planning for the next 10 – 20 years,” explains Ged proudly.
“RSM Bird Cameron’s quality and reputation is everything. Canberra is a close knit community and we look forward to being a part of it for a long time to come.”