How We Have Assisted Our Clients
Being professional advisers for over 90 years provides us with a wealth of case studies to draw upon when we are asked "How can you help my business?"
Here are just four that we trust you will find of interest. (NB We have changed client’s names and locations for privacy purposes).
Case Study 1
Mr Smith became a client of ours in 1986 when we merged with Lamond Harris & Co.
He owned a successful newsagency in the upper north shore region of Sydney, and also undertook some minor importing of stationery products. His company’s assets included the newsagency, a 5-acre property and a substantial family residence in Sydney’s northern suburbs, and a superannuation fund with assets of about $1m (including shares and a Gold Coast apartment).
All of these assets were lost in 1992 when a new business venture he became involved in fell victim to the high interest rates affecting the other (unrelated) business interests of Mr Smith’s new business partner.
The lenders acted on the personal guarantees they held, and which had been provided by Mr Smith without consulting us. The bank sold up all of the assets to repay bank loans owing by the business partner. Regrettably Mr Smith was forced to relocate to a rented 3-bedroom cottage with his wife, 2 adult children and 2 dogs.
Mr Smith (now 51 years of age) and his wife were declared bankrupt. Various prominent city lawyers (who were old family friends of Mr Smith) provided token assistance only but couldn’t get interested in his situation and so achieved very little.
It was then that we stepped in to assist Mr Smith as his main professional advisor and steer a course to recovery.
Mr Smith decided that his imported stationery business was his best option for salvaging the situation and developed a relationship with a newsagency buying group. Mr Smith and our partner Jeff Partridge then found a financier in Hong Kong to assist with working capital for the business (as, naturally, no local banks would lend to an undischarged bankrupt).
The business was immediately successful, but the financier became greedy, so we had to search for another Hong Kong financier for the second year, followed by a private Australian financier for the 3rd and 4th years.
At the same time we were able to convince a local bank to provide funding for a restaurant which Mr Smith’s wife and daughter built up over the next 3 years, trading profitably and ultimately selling for a further capital gain. The bank was then able to provide import finance to assist with the growth of the import business.
Mr Smith acquired and renovated a large residence in the northern suburbs and continued to operate the import business from this home until recently, acquiring other assets along the way and benefiting from our tax-planning and superannuation strategies. Since then we have assisted him out of the restaurant and import businesses into a successful property development business.
Mr Smith’s assets are now in excess of $6m with no debt.
During a period when many of Mr Smith’s friends deserted him, we stuck by him and became an integral part of his successful restaurant and import businesses.
Case Study 2
Mr Wesson owned and operated a local funeral business. He came to us in 2010 via a referral.
Mr Wesson had moved from Melbourne to acquire two funeral businesses in 2004. The incumbent accountants were based in Bendigo. The main reason for the change was that they wanted someone closer to home to help them with their business and financial affairs.
It took about 6 months to get them over the line to Trumans. By that time, their plans to turn a disused car dealership into a “Life Celebration Centre” (i.e. funeral home & crematorium) had run into difficulties:
the Council had reversed its previous support for the project due to heat from local residents;
the clients’ lawyer was nowhere to be seen, for the same reason;
their bank was resisting the acquisition of the property through the client’s super fund;
the costs of the barristers, architects, town planners, engineers, etc. were approaching $200,000 with nothing to show for it; and
the mortgagee in possession of the property was about to enforce the expiration of the client’s option over the property, meaning they would have to abandon their development application.
Jeff Partridge was able to convince Mr Wesson to proceed with the purchase of the property and then effectively assumed the role of “project manager” for the structuring and completion of the acquisition. This involved:
driving the client’s solicitor to assist with the project, despite his reservations and resistance;
arranging the establishment of the structure for the acquisition (which involved the client’s existing super fund, a custodian trust and a corporate trustee) so as to comply with ATO rules on super fund borrowings;
briefing a mortgage broker, presenting the case for finance to a reluctant bank, (including preparation of most of the documentation required), and keeping after them until approval for the loan was finally granted;
briefing other financiers in case the incumbent bank caved in or in case a better deal could be secured elsewhere;
arranging the sale of other investments owned by Mr Wesson’s super fund as necessary towards payment of the deposit on the property;
consulting with a commercial property agent who found a State Government department willing to relocate to the client’s property
assisting and advising in the negotiation of the lease;
consulting with Mr Wesson (who developed shingles during the process and became increasingly unable to assist in the process), his brother (a developer), the mortgage broker, various lawyers and other experts, and the property agent along the way.
The development application went to the Land & Environment Court and was eventually rejected, however we were able to complete the purchase of the property and secure a long-term lease with the NSW State Government. The Government also invested in improvements to Mr Wesson’s property, most of which will stay with the property.
The structure that we put in place ensures that this capital gain, as well as the net rents from the Government tenant, will all be tax-free to Mr Wesson.
So, even though Mr Wesson’s dream of a “Life Celebration Centre” failed to materialise, we were able to manage an alternative that will provide him with a passive income far greater than he was projecting for the proposed crematorium business, on an after tax basis. Mr Wesson will be able to retire on the proceeds.
Case Study 3
Mrs Jones came to us through a referral from a Blue Mountains bookkeeper. She was unhappy with the lack of service from her incumbent accountants, based in Penrith.
Mrs Jones’s business is a catering company providing lunches & dinners to boardrooms and other corporate clients.
When Mrs Jones came to us she was distressed because her investment in the company was starting to run out but the business – now their principal source of income – was not generating profits. Funds had been invested in an industrial unit in western Sydney which is now the business’s office and its commercial kitchen, but she was unable to pay creditors on time and feared she would lose her house.
Upon review of the financial performance of the business, we were able to introduce Mrs Jones to a mortgage broker who was able to secure a $200k line of credit against the value of the industrial unit. This has provided working capital for the business for:
completion of the remaining essential work at the business premises;
clearing all outstanding creditors;
engaging a consultant (introduced by us) to prepare a marketing plan targeted at re-branding Mrs Jones’s business into 2 businesses and improving the business’s exposure to social media;
employing two new staff members to allow Mrs Jones and her husband to concentrate on business development;
engaging an insurance consultant (introduced by us) to secure life insurance for Mrs Jones (she had previously been unable to get this due to her cancer scare) and her husband, and income protection insurance for the husband (which had also been impossible for him to get due to his bankruptcy);
engaging a new lawyer to assist with:
preparation of a draft contract for a large new customer of their business;
estate planning issues for Mrs and Mr Jones and their complex blended family;
imposing a new corporate trustee for the trust that owns the industrial unit;
preparing a lease for an unrelated business that will occupy a small part of the industrial unit.
We prepared their income tax returns for the business and themselves and provided tax-planning advice in June the following year that saved them at least a further $10,000.
As a result of these measures, the Jones’s now have a fully-funded business with trained staff and a team of professional advisors. They now have sufficient confidence to be planning an overseas holiday next year.
Jeff Partridge has been asked to be part of their management team. Jenny Goris will be involved in ongoing tax-planning and accounting issues. A self-managed super fund will be established in the near future.
At the same time, we have cemented relationships with a mortgage broker, a lawyer and a marketer (who have all referred work to us since then), as well as our consulting insurance brokers.
Case Study 4
How to control a ship when there are four Captains and the constant threat of a mutiny!
This reference is to the Windsor family (no, not those Windsors!). They are an institution; a rare breed of persons and characters who live and thrive in regional New South Wales. And this region of New South Wales is a world of its own.
This is not so much a list of winning outcomes as it is a description of a relationship. It is very hard to extract well defined moments of success when a relationship has endured for more than 70 years. There are too many to mention.
We first became involved with the Windsor Family when Mary Windsor passed away in 1940. She left 4 children behind and some real estate in the main street of town which had substantial borrowings chalked up against it. Of the four children, Charlie was selected (or was that self-selected?), to turn the tide on debt and to build a small regional empire. As Charlie often recalls, it was one of Trumans’ satisfied clients that told him in 1940 that it was crucial that he find himself a good firm of accountants. We have been his trusted advisors ever since. That is 4 generations of Trumans’ partners that have been involved in this fruitful and challenging engagement. Trumans are now interacting with 3 generations of the Windsor family.
In its early days the relationship was generally compliance-based but with 4 strongly opinionated siblings at the helm it soon became one of mentorship and the provision of robust advice and wisdom.
The business grew from that of just a restaurant and ballroom to a multifaceted business incorporating the manufacture of soft drinks, an ice works and a bakery. After the war they created the concept of self-service grocery markets – soon to become supermarkets. In the 1950’s the bakery became the first bakery in the district to distribute sliced bread. They used their substantial cold storage facility and freezing plant to innovate the distribution of frozen foods throughout the region.
The soft drink plant was innovative in that it installed the latest automatic filling machines and it was the first to bottle a new beverage in Australia. This product is now a household name.
In the 1960’s the group was again restructured and a shopping arcade was built; this soon became the hub of the town. In the early 1980’s this property was completely redeveloped as a retail and commercial centre. This property has just been redeveloped once again to substantially offer more office space.
Whilst all this was occurring, the siblings individually, operated a residential and commercial construction business, a wholesale cash and carry grocery business, developed a commercial and industrial estate, and built up an enviable portfolio of commercial and industrial properties throughout the region.
The family also operate a significant Charitable Foundation which was seeded in the early 2000’s which benefits the local and regional community. Along this same vein the family has also redeveloped local park lands and various memorials to enhance the environs and to celebrate the history of the area.
So where do we fit into this history? Trumans was consulted on each and every initiative. Consultation has always taken place in the planning stage, the execution stage and the ongoing maintenance stage. Richard Cox maintains this consultative process, which is still in place today. Whether it involves tax and compliance, mentoring, succession planning, estate planning, legal and contractual advice, employment issues, fiduciary responsibilities, investment strategy or just plain common sense, we are relied upon for advice and objective input.
There are no stand-out wins on this client as every year presents a new and significant challenge. The relationship is strong and has certainly survived some interesting confrontations; that is the secret of Trumans’ success with the Windsor Family.
This engagement has certainly been one where we have had to steady the tiller and ensure that there is only one skipper to harness the enthusiasm and rawness of a driven family over three generations. In short, as their trusted advisors, we seem to have filled a great many roles over a period of over 70 years.
Other ways we have assisted our clients
Restructured a client many years ago in anticipation of him selling his business. When the sale finally happened, the capital gains restructure saved him millions of dollars.
Acting as resident director for non-resident family group, assisting in wealth management by providing investment and cash flow management and assisting in wealth creation by facilitating investment opportunities together with other professionals in financial products and real estate.
Taking the burden of financial management from senior and elderly clients by assisting in their investment and cash flow management, helping with their bill payments and paper shuffling.