Perth HLB Mann Judd partner Litsa Christodulou recently made history as the first HLB Mann Judd Partner to win “Most Client-Focused Accountant” at the annual AFR Client Choice Awards. Here she talks about the win as well the accounting industry.

1. How does it feel to win this National award?

It’s always wonderful to be recognised for what you do, and this win was a complete, but very pleasant, surprise. After last year’s nomination in this category, it was lovely to take home the award, especially as I was at the ceremony in Melbourne and surrounded by many of my HLB Mann Judd colleagues. It was an incredible feeling of support and camaraderie – the atmosphere was exciting and it was heart-warming to be in a room full of professional service providers who were nominated and recognised across various industries and be able to celebrate the work that we do every day. To be there, amongst that much talent was inspiring.

2. Why do you think you won the award this year?

This recognition is just an added bonus to the appreciation I already feel from working with my clients. It underlines the emphasis and focus I place on building client relationships – I feel I must be doing something right and that my clients value my input and service. But, I’ve always viewed my role as one which allows me to grow with my clients – we’re in this together and my aim has always been to produce the best possible results for clients, in line with their goals, objectives and values. Although the trophy has my name on it, I truly believe this award is recognition for the HLB Mann Judd team I work with each day – it’s truly a team effort.

3. What sets you apart when it comes to client focus?

I aim to go above and beyond for my clients and this award means that, in some way, I “stand out from the crowd” with regards to client service. I help my clients achieve their dreams and this attention is a reminder that years of hard work and devotion to clients is recognised and appreciated. It makes me feel that I‘ve made a positive difference. I also like to put myself in the client’s shoes and feel like I’m part of their business – having this mindset helps me develop solutions that will benefit the client and/or their business. In developing relationships with clients, we build a mutual trust which helps with both the easy and difficult conversations that we sometimes need to have to ensure a positive outcome. It’s extremely important to me that I am with them in both the good and bad times, particularly as our economy goes through its ups and downs – supporting clients through these times is essential for a successful relationship.

4. What do you love most about your job?

As a business owner, you can never simply sit back and be fully satisfied – there are endless and countless opportunities to build, learn and grow within the business, so to be working with amazing clients who each have differing business needs and are at various stages of their own business or personal “life cycle”, means I have the chance to grow alongside them. The most exciting thing is to be with clients on their journey and witness the positive changes that come from our working relationship. That’s the greatest reward. Although I’m not in it for awards, it is recognition of many years of dedicated work, building solid relationships, and watching HLB Mann Judd grow and mature into a firm that we’re all truly proud of, and which has made a positive mark on the business world. As a Partner within the firm, I also work closely with staff, so this company-wide recognition plays a part in keeping staff motivated and engaged with the firm and their role within it – it adds to the real “team focus” that we emphasise at HLB Mann Judd. I spend time with staff so they can make the most of their abilities and excel and learn in every possible way, and keep them motivated and interested in the work they do and service they’re providing.

5. As a professional, what attributes do you share with your colleagues at HLB Mann Judd?

We face challenges head on and develop solutions for our clients. Everyone at HLB Mann Judd works closely with their clients as we place an emphasis on building client relationships. We encourage staff to contribute ideas and opinions, which is very empowering, and has a positive impact on staff engagement and the overall service provided.

6. You’re no doubt an inspiration to your colleagues and clients, but who inspires you?

Since starting at HLB Mann Judd early in my career, I have had a number of mentors internally who have guided me and served as a constant source of inspiration. Many of them have retired but I am still in constant contact with them and they continue to amaze me with how they live their lives and maintain an interest in life itself. These mentors all had different skillsets and I’ve taken a bit from each of them. Many of my clients are recognised leaders within their fields in WA and simply to be around them, working together, and watching them achieve personal and professional success whilst also loving what they do is a constant source of inspiration. I’m lucky to see this on a daily basis.

7. What can other financial professionals take away from your experience?

Ultimately, our work is about bring value to clients and ensuring the client experience is second-to-none. If focusing on clients and their needs is your number one priority, then you can’t go wrong. Understanding what motivates clients is also a crucial factor – knowing what they want in life can help with the service we provide: some clients are happy to take risks, others are not – knowing and understanding their personalities and individual differences can help with the business solutions we suggest.

8. What’s your professional motto/ mantra/ vision statement?

“Do the best I can every day, for everybody.” I feel I contribute to a larger team of staff and clients, and bringing my absolute best to these groups means everybody wins.