SME spotlight: Wayne Brehmer

After graduating from university, Wayne Brehmer had a clear goal – to become
a partner in a chartered accounting practice. Having commenced his career at Ernst & Young, he later moved to the UK for a decade, before returning to Australia to work for Grant Thornton, another big five accounting firm.

In 2007, the birth of his second child coincided with Brehmer purchasing his own tax practice in Brisbane – with the aim to spend more time with his young family. Five years later, Brehmer purchased another practice in Noosa, where he is now based, having successfully merged the two businesses.

Fast-forward to now, and Brehmer’s accounting practice, Brehmer Murphy & Co, is thriving, with four full-time and two part-time staff.

Every day is different according to Brehmer.

“Generally I am meeting or talking with clients, whether it’s tax related –covering anything from income tax, super, GST or to state matters like payroll tax etc. – or general adhoc issues, such as funding for a new project, through to restructuring or succession planning,” he explains.

“I’m still personally involved in the tax compliance work for clients. I also review client files as they come through – I have senior accountants in place which review work and review and sign off everything that goes out the office, which forms a big part of my day.”

As a manager and business owner, Brehmer admits time management is an ongoing challenge.

“You’re stretched between staff and clients both needing your attention and time, to a point that you don’t really have any time or energy to focus on your own business,” he says.

“You need to be able to step back so you can focus and move forward with your own business. But being able to step back from being in the business is quite difficult when you’re a small business,” he concedes.

But Brehmer believes it’s essential to take time out in order to work on the business – and practices what he preaches.

“This year I have started to carve out some time where I can start to so this,” he says.

One of the most valuable lessons Brehmer has learnt in his business journey is understanding client’s expectations – and managing those expectations as best as possible. He says it goes back to the simple adage of ‘under promise and over deliver’.

That way you should always be able to exceed expectations rather than missing it and disappointing clients.”

Brehmer also recommends business owners seek good advice – whether it’s legal, financial or accounting – and be prepared to pay for it.

“Some small businesses don’t want to pay for the advice upfront, but you may end up paying much more if something hasn’t worked as expected – or, more importantly miss opportunities particularly if the underlying structure or initial advice isn’t right,” he warns.

“So it’s a combination of ensuring you budget time to work on your business but then when you want to implement your plans, making sure you get good advice so it can be both funded and structured properly.”

To that extent, BOQ has played an important part in the growth of Brehmer’s business since the merger.

“They’ve listened to what we’ve needed along the way, provided the options that they can offer and then worked with us to implement those,” he says.

He was grateful for the holistic approach the bank took.

“It’s not just funding, it’s more partnering with us and having a relationship, and saying ‘where are you going and what do you need from us to help you get there’. So it’s knowing you’ve got them on your side rather than being someone that simply reviews your file monthly/quarterly/annually to make sure that you’ve actually met your commitments.”

“They were also able to manage to get everything completed on time without any problems which takes a big burden off your mind – particularly in this case when it was quite a big step up from the previous practice.”

So what’s next in Brehmer’s business?

“We have clients overseas and all across Australia – so it’s trying to take advantage of the web-based products now to make it easier for us to communicate with clients, receive/process their information efficiently and be more accessible so we can continue to partner with them on their business journey,” he says.

“We want to continue delivering our services to a high standard, be accurate and ensure clients are always fully informed,” he adds. “Everything’s moving quickly to be web-based so we’ve got to get on board with that and also encourage our clients to do the same.”

Brehmer notes that as a business grows, there’s a certain size that’s optimal.

“So it’s seeing the business reach that level and then as part of that, ensuring the client and staff relationships grow at and to that level. Also, continuing to improve what services we offer and ultimately, providing an environment for staff to enjoy and want to be part of that journey, as they are a crucial part of the business, and long term vision for the practice.”

Tuesday, March 22, 2016
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