Q&A with Philippa O'Mara of Engine Room Chartered Accountants
Philippa O’Mara is the Director at Engine Room Chartered Accountants, a business coaching, financial management & accounting firm located in Pukekohe and Tauranga, New Zealand. I recently asked Philippa about her role at Engine Room, and how they use Sharesight to track their clients’ investment portfolios.
Hi Philippa, thanks for participating in this Q&A. Please tell me a bit about yourself.
While I lived in New Zealand as a child, I originally started my career as an accountant in the UK, where I spent 12 years at KPMG in London. In that role, I specialised in mergers and acquisitions and trained my team on the topic, which is what began my passion for training and up-skilling business owners. But I knew New Zealand was the country I wanted to call home. So I migrated here in 2004, before joining Engine Room in 2006 and establishing the firm’s coaching division in 2009, which is an ongoing programme that provides business improvement seminars and one-on-one coaching to New Zealand business owner-managers. I am now the Director of Engine Room, and am certified as an accountant in both New Zealand and the UK.
What is Engine Room, and what sets it apart from other accounting firms?
At Engine Room we take a very holistic view of our customers. We like to understand how their business operates and what is important to them. Do they want to run a big business? Do they want to spend more time with their family? Are they thinking about retirement?
Once we know where they are going we help them put strategies in place to get there, and hold them accountable.
We build a service plan that enables us to provide the services they require within their budget on a fixed fee. We know that being a business owner can be lonely – an important part of our service is being accessible – available to answer questions and bounce ideas, without our customers worrying about their fees running amok.
I see that you’re a Xero-enabled business. What do you love about Xero? And are there any other apps your business relies on?
Xero was the accounting software we were looking for, so we have been on board since 2007. When you do advisory work and management reporting the ability for everyone to access the same data in real time was a game changer for SMEs. It has made reporting and tax compliance more efficient, removing the need to double process everything.
From early on we were interested in the add-ons that worked with Xero and the opportunity to build affordable ERP systems for customers based around Xero. In the last 12 years that has exploded, and while it is interesting to check them all out we predominantly work a selection of NZ based apps providing stock management, job management and payroll.
We are always looking at better solutions, but have found that it is best to concentrate on a small selection of quality apps that we know well.
Why did Engine Room choose to partner with Sharesight?
We’ve been using Sharesight since 2010, initially because of the changes in rules around the taxation of foreign shares and the need to get tax correct under the FIF rules. It is a great app and over the years it has really evolved to include a wider pool of share information.
Sharesight saves us 2-3 hours on a mid-sized portfolio, simply removing the need to track down missing dividend statements and create the schedule of income, as well as the calculations involved for foreign shares.
How does Engine Room use Sharesight?
In the majority we use Sharesight where our customers don’t have a managed portfolio – it ensures that we pick up all the information for accounting and tax purposes. It is a great way to see valuations at any point in time as well as the split between capital growth and income.
In most cases we use it as a stand-alone product. The reporting is excellent, with a wide range of reports to monitor performance of each portfolio.
How much time/money has Engine Room saved by using Sharesight to track client portfolios?
In general this saves us 2-3 hours on a mid-sized portfolio, simply removing the need to track down missing dividend statements and create the schedule of income, as well as the calculations involved for foreign shares.
What is the one Sharesight feature you can’t live without?
For me it is the FIF reporting!
Do you use Sharesight to manage your own personal portfolio?
Yes, I use it to track my personal share portfolio – it is really what sold me on using it, as my portfolio grew it was just an easy way to keep track of everything. I really like the alerts for dividend payments and movements in share values, in particular.
How can investors get started with Engine Room?
We provide a complimentary initial meeting to all new clients. We work with a selection of advisors who specialise in financial planning and investment, as that is outside the realm of our expertise.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
There is an increasing need for investors to understand the wide ranging reporting requirements under the AML/CFT, FATCA and CRS regulations. Because these are technical they tend to fly under the radar of the average taxpayer, but it is very important to make sure that your investment entity is compliant – particularly if you hold an investment portfolio in a trust.
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