50 fastest-growing start-ups
StartupSmart Awards 2011
Founders: Christian Borkowski, Guy Wall and Peter Gooden
Revenue: $3.07 million
Head Office: New South Wales
Merging two companies can throw up significant challenges, so isn’t adding a third business into the mix a recipe for trouble? Primewealth has proved it can be done.
The business was formed in late 2007 through the merger of Christian Borkowski’s accountancy firm and Guy Wall’s financial planning operation. Peter Gooden, an auditor, then came on board to complete the all-round financial offering.
Borkowski, Primewealth’s CEO, says that the initial merger went smoothly, but adds: “When we added Peter’s business, we attempted to meld everything through a best of breed approach to processes and staff. We tried to pick out the best of both and merge them.”
“But it’s difficult to take bits and pieces and put them together. What we did, six months too late, was throw all of that out of the window to just create the best process. It was so much more efficient.”
Borkowski, who says Primewealth’s work is split 55/45 between accountancy and financial planning, cites several points of difference to other accountants, such as up-front pricing for billing and the offer of business coaching.
However, he says that the business has mainly benefited from recognising how the financial industry is changing and capitalising upon it.
“Some firms are heading the way we have and there are others like H&R Block that just offer accountancy, “ he says. “Then there are those caught between the two and they will be forced to choose between one or the other.”
“The tax returns and so on that a H&R Block will do is a commodity. If an accountant does their job properly, you’ll get the same result. But if you invest in advisory services, that’s investing in the future. It helps you build a relationship with clients too, rather than just do to keep the ATO happy.”
“The clients that want us to advise above and beyond their ATO compliance are our ‘A’ clients. That’s where the value is. The others, who just want to comply, are still clients, of course, but they are down the list.”
Borkowski says that Primewealth has a five-year plan mapped out to achieve $10 million revenue, with $4.5 million of that being EBITDA. He is keen to forge closer links with the local business community to achieve this, taking a proactive approach to new business rather than just relying on it walking through the door.
So what has he learned from the start-up process? “I learned to go with my gut, make quick decisions rather than drawn-out ones and make plans very clear to staff,” he says.
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