HLB Mann Judd is proudly celebrating its 40 year anniversary. To commemorate the milestone, we asked some of our incredible leaders to share how they are helping HLB’s clients prepare for the challenges of tomorrow.

Fiona Dixon’s story

Transformation is a term often used but rarely truly understood. With the unwavering support of the firm, it’s exactly why I chose to pursue it some two decades after graduating as an accountant.

I’d always wanted to do something in business and with a natural flair for numbers, accounting seemed a practical choice.

I joined HLB Mann Judd Sydney in 2000 and worked as a tax accountant for the most part. The ability to use technology to bring about improvements in processing and operations piqued my interest in recent years.

Automation and robotics are fascinating and evolving areas for the profession and the business community more broadly. There is so much untapped potential. It’s an area that will only become more relevant as technology advances.

When I decided to become a director of the firm (now partner), I knew I had to offer something different and valuable. I started having discussions with some colleagues about software transformation and implementing new accounting software for process improvement.

Around the same time, an opportunity arose with a client who needed a CFO and I stepped in on a secondment basis. I ended up changing the client’s entire software system and processes, which gave me both great insight and also the confidence to pursue transformation full time with HLB Mann Judd.

Fast-forward three years and the transformation team has grown to five people. Initially, it was a novel conversation for clients to be having, but it’s increasingly entered the mainstream and now considered key to a business’ strategic growth.

The automation side is still evolving. We have placed some focus on internal firm operations.  Having an automation system that can talk across multiple software systems and across business functions will make a huge difference to the way the firm and our clients operate in the future.

HLB Sydney now has three digital employees, or bots – Anna, Harry Botter (audit division) and Warren (wealth management division, and named after global investment heavyweight, Warren Buffett). They interact with the employees of the division and provide information as required, such as downloading ASX announcements or preparing letters for clients.

We’ve had two years of intense learning and growth on the robotics piece and I’m so proud of all the team has achieved during that time. We’re in a good position and it’s a burgeoning area so it’s only going to get bigger and more significant.  

Looking back on my decision to pivot from tax into transformation, my only regret is not doing it sooner. I wish I had backed myself more and trusted in my own ability to interpret and execute better processes.

Fortunately, Sydney’s managing partner and Australasian chair, Tony Fittler, has been incredibly supportive of all that we’re setting out to achieve. Tony has afforded me a lot of autonomy and license to make the most of the opportunity to create a unique value proposition for the firm.

Transformation is so far removed from traditional accounting disciplines, but it’s a way to differentiate ourselves for the market and offer clients a means of making their business more efficient and, ultimately, more profitable.