Case study: A financial partnership made in heaven

Case study: A financial partnership made in heaven
A radical revamp to a traditional accounting practice required a bank with vision. Enter BNZ.

A radical revamp to a traditional accounting practice required a bank with vision. Enter BNZ.Philippa (left) and Margaret (right) with Phil McKinstry, Senior BNZ Partner, Counties.

Confident, colourful and strong behind large, bold, red signage, Engine Room Chartered Accountants is highly visible along Pukekohe’s main street. In contrast to typical accountancy firms with their rather staid public profiles, Engine Room is no shrinking violet when it comes to conveying the message that they think outside the square to make things happen for clients. Its  catchphrase: Where Thinking Powers Business.

The South Auckland business was started in 2001 by Margaret Holmes and later joined by Philippa O’Mara. They’ve always regarded themselves as a little different from the norm. “We’re focused on business success rather than just compliance. We help our clients to better understand their business and show them how to use their financial information to make good decisions in order to succeed and grow,” says Holmes.

“Many small business owners are really stuck in the ‘doing’ of the business and they don’t spend enough time thinking about it. That’s where we come in.” Believing that, now more that ever, business owners need good advice from their accountants, the Engine Room has developed a range of seminars to educate business owners on the fundamentals of successful businesses.

This forward-thinking stance has worked well as the business has grown steadily in size and reputation.

Originally, they called themselves Diva Business Solutions – a name that in today’s marketplace seemed “a little bit girly”, says Holmes. This year, they decided to reinvent to better reflect the way they work with their clients. “We decided to call ourselves Engine Room because in any business, that’s where things happen.”

Bankers’ challenge
Coinciding with the rebrand, Margaret and Philippa also sought to move from their “boutiquey” 1914 bungalow by purchasing large, new, high profile commercial premises. They wanted a smart new office fit out where they could continue to expand, accommodate growing staff numbers and work with their clients on their businesses.

Having seen the problems clients were having getting finance from other banks, Holmes and O’Mara decided to try BNZ with its innovative partner approach. So it was fortunate Margaret had begun establishing a relationship with BNZ through Robyn Weggery, the business partner just a few metres along the road at BNZ Pukekohe.

“We already had a really good understanding of them and their business. We’re both open and frank and being women in business, we have a lot of synergy. I knew we could get credit to approve what they wanted to do as they think outside the square and are just the sort of business that we want at our bank. We like forward thinking people.”

Robyn brought in a Treasury Solutions specialist to discuss the current and forecast interest rate environment and outline what options were available to manage the risk of interest rates changing over time. Treasury Solutions, she explains, specialises in interest rates and so are able to provide up to date market data and a variety of solutions to fit the needs of our clients. From a loan approval point of view, Robyn says, theirs was quite an unusual proposal as it had to be a standalone deal without being linked to either of the partners’ personal property – something the other bank wouldn’t accept.

After the deal was signed, Weggery then introduced Sharyn Gasson, a specialist in payment solutions who helped transfer all their business banking accounts over to BNZ to facilitate speedy access to merchant facilities such as Eftpos, credit card and automatic payments.

“For us, it was so simple to get it sorted. They made it easy,” says Holmes. “Talking to the right person at the bank eases the process of obtaining finance and managing your banking facilities. BNZ has gone out of their way to make that happen.”

“The way that the transaction came together shows the BNZ Partners model in action, by bringing to the client a number of different specialists. In this instance we included Robyn as the key local relationship manager, supported by Sharyn in payment solutions and a treasury solutions specialist to advise on debt structure and interest risk management” says Phil McKinstry, Senior BNZ Partner, Counties.

One of the first things Weggery organised for Engine Room was a function where she brought along the bank’s various partners and introduced them to the Engine Room team. As a result, Engine Room has since developed strong relationships not just with BNZ staff, but with a number of their business partners. They’ve had opportunities to help promote and expand their business further through BNZ co-branding activities, including a Xero software event at the new Highbrook Partners Business Centre, where the Xero CEO, Rod Drury and O’Mara spoke to prospective clients about Xero and the then-forthcoming GST changes. O’Mara also featured on BNZ’s website.

Bright future
The future looks as bright as their logo for Engine Room. For their size, the firm has achieved a high profile. “We’ve made it very clear - we see ourselves as an innovative accountancy firm focused on improving our clients’ business and we’re looking to work with entrepreneurial businesses like ours – to create success.

“BNZ makes that easy. There’s always somebody within the team who can help with what we need. If we’re looking for assistance with clients, we’re always directed to the best person for that particular job. We’re happy to give BNZ our business. And they’re just along the road!”

To find out more about BNZ Partners , please call 0800 955 455.

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