Michael Minter is always up for a challenge. Almost straight after completing his Bachelor of Commerce at University of Newcastle, Micheal found himself running the Maitland office of a small accounting firm. He was able to step up. That experience equipped him well to move to one of the Big Four firms where he worked for six years.
Michael started with Farrow Wyatt (now Pitcher Partners) in 2001. He became a partner in 2006 and ten years on became Managing Partner.
Although he’s a tax and superannuation specialist, Michael is clearly more than a numbers man. It is the connection to people he likes about his work – both to clients and staff.
- What makes a good leader?
A good leader lays out the vision for a business and inspires people to help achieve that vision.
Leaders need to be able to relate to people. They need to be down to earth, not aloof. Despite the time pressures, you must make time for people. If you don’t, you miss the opportunity to solve an issue before it becomes a problem or you miss out on that next great idea or improvement opportunity.
As a leader you need to be aware that the decisions you make may have an impact on people – not just on employees and colleagues but their families and, sometimes, the broader community.
- How would you describe your leadership style.
I focus on outcomes but I try to be fair and look after people along the way.
It is important to remember that the way to achieve the outcomes is by maximising the skills of the people in your business.
- What are some of the key issues facing the leaders of professional services firms?
Technology is an issue for many firms, particularly in our business. It is an interesting one because it can be a double edged sword. It is also changing some of the skills sets we require in our firm.
I try not to get too wrapped up in the technology itself so we don’t take our eye off the real purpose of why we are in business. Technology can sometimes lessen the depth of relationship you have with a client and, in our business, that doesn’t help us or our clients.
We’re harnessing technology where it will benefit clients. It can give you much more immediate access to quality data that can be used to make better decisions. But we’re also making sure it doesn’t mean we are not still picking up the phone or meeting with clients.
Legislative changes are also an issue for our business and our clients. We have an interesting situation now in that some tax and Superannuation changes were announced in the Budget, effective that night, but we don’t have the legislation in place. I sometimes despair at the lack of long term planning in areas such as tax and Super.
- What’s a good thing about doing business in the Hunter?
Being a regional economy, I think there is a great sense of community in business here in the Hunter. The fact that we live and work together enhances that community approach. That no doubt applies to other regional areas too.
The Hunter is an interesting place in which to do business because of the diversity of its economy. We are the largest coal exporter but we also have strong arts, food, health, agriculture, IT and manufacturing sectors of the economy. At Pitcher we get to serve the whole spectrum which makes for very interesting and satisfying work.
- Which local leaders inspire you?
There isn’t one person I can single out. I have been fortunate to meet and work with plenty of Hunter leaders who have inspired me. I tend to be inspired by leaders who have a positive impact on people’s lives. I am inspired by leaders who share this approach quoted from Simon Sinek.
“Leadership is a responsibility. It’s not about being in charge. It’s about taking care of those in our charge.”
Pitcher Partners is a national association of accounting, audit and advisory firms.
The Hunter firm (formerly Farrow Wyatt) has offices in Newcastle, Maitland and Singleton. It has been serving Hunter clients for more than 40 years. Its six partners and 50 staff have strong local knowledge, experience and expertise across a range of industries.
Pitcher Partners is also a member of Baker Tilly International, giving clients access to resources internationally.