She’s the co-founder of AccountKit, co-director/owner of her own accounting firm and busy mum of three. That’s why it was so hard to pin her down for a profile on our blog! She’s a huge part of the development and success of AccountKit so she certainly deserves her moment in the spotlight. Meet Paula Murray.
I started my career as a travel agent
My dad was (and still is) an accountant. After a stressful day in the office once he told me ‘never be an accountant or a lawyer.’ So, heeding his advice, I worked in travel for five years. I enjoyed helping people organise their dream holidays. I’m a detail person and I love travel, so I was well qualified for this career. But after a few years I wanted something more challenging. So, I defied my dad and enrolled in a double degree in the two disciplines he warned against: commerce and commercial law.
Joining the accounting industry
Dad forgave me, eventually. When I graduated university, I was offered a variety of entry-level positions. I chose the role that focussed on self managed super funds, because i found it more interesting than the other audit roles I’d been offered.
As I began working in the industry, I knew I’d found my niche. I love helping people get better control and clarity around their finances. It’s fulfilling to help clients see the possibilities and opportunities they can explore with confidence, thanks to strong financial management.
Murray Business Solutions
I met my husband in the industry, as I was working for his father. Yes, our names are very similar! People get us mixed up from time to time. We get emails and phone calls meant for each other. We’ve been together a while, so we are used to it.
Paul’s father was planning to retire so Paul and I purchased his business, Murray Business Solutions. Even though we’ve owned the business seven years, we have clients that Paul’s dad has been representing for more than thirty years. So, it’s nice to have that long term relationship. My dad even sold his accounting practice and came to work with us as well!
AccountKit started from necessity
About five years ago, as we were transitioning our practice to Xero, we started creating tools for our own use alongside Xero. Paul’s background in IT helped us create user-friendly tools that our team could use to speed up processes. At the time, we only thought of using these tools for ourselves. We had a vague discussion about sharing them with other accounting practices—just three or four industry colleagues.
About this time, we told a rep from Xero about the tools we’d created. He immediately said to us: ‘You know, you aren't the only ones in the industry facing this problem, you’re on to something here.’
So we realised we could help other accounting practices by building smart tools to improve their efficiency. AccountKit launched in 2016 and it’s been very exciting to be at the coal face of a startup for the first time in my career. We are thrilled with how positively the industry has responded to the tools we’ve created, and we’ve got exciting further developments ahead.
Cloud technology changes accountants’ client relationships for the better
Since migrating to cloud-based systems, we enjoy deeper engagement with our clients. Because we have instant real-time access to their numbers any time. We are not badgering our clients for their latest data; we can access it all ourselves. This means we can be more proactive with clients, pointing their attention to issues before they become major problems.
However, with cloud technology, practices can be tempted to reduce the client contact and rely on email and cloud reporting. To me, this is risky. It’s important to maintain those conversations with clients, because there’s only so much we know from the data. I prefer to ring clients to have a discussion rather than email, it’s more personal.
I'm constantly amazed at what cloud technology can do and the information it can give us. But I try to remember it will never replace relationships, and that's where the real enjoyment comes from.
Passionate about encouraging women in the workforce
When I started my commerce degree, I was delighted to see equal numbers of men and women amongst the student body. Consequently, I felt that the idea that finance was a male dominated industry was a myth. But since entering the workforce, I’ve seen that the numbers in the industry are equal but the seniority is not. It seems to me that there are still more male partners than female. The industry is changing, but slowly. It’s great to see more firms encouraging women to take on more senior roles, because they value their skill set and contributions. Cloud technology can facilitate the flexibility that many women need. As a female partner myself, I am passionate about encouraging young women to smash the glass ceiling. Now that my children are a little older, I am looking forward to working with more business women's groups and finding more ways to encourage and support women entering the industry.
Being a mum and owner of two businesses
It’s busy! We have three children. Over the last five years I have worked two days a week. I’ve enjoyed the time working on our businesses. Developments move fast in the industry. Managing conflicting demands of family and working part-time has been really hard, but I have enjoyed working in some capacity while my children were little. I’ve have always felt grateful that I haven't had to choose one over the other. I have a network of supportive family and friends and of course we have a great team in both Murray Business Solutions and AccountKit. Juggling everything means I need to be efficient and prepared. Luckily I’m an organised person (most of the time).
Has Paula convinced you of the benefits of cloud-based practice solutions? Find out about our tools at our next next webinar or start your free trial today.