There would be very few people in this day and age, who would be able to say on retiring, they have held the same job for a career spanning nearly 40 years. That’s exactly what has happened with Greg Cowles, his first position was with accounting firm Hilson Fagerland and Keyse (HFK) who merged with Marriott’s in 2016 to form Nexia New Zealand. Greg still has a framed letter in the office confirming his appointment on September 2nd 1980. To put that into a historical perspective, Jimmy Carter was the US President and Robert Muldoon, the Prime Minster of New Zealand back then!
It was very different back in the 1980’s when everything was less regulated and accounting firms did everything. “It’s ironic, we’re almost going full circle and moving back to providing a lot more business advisory services for our clients” says Greg. Greg’s role as a senior and managing partner at HFK, and director of Nexia New Zealand, has been the result of long standing service and expertise that he developed over all those years, and are roles he has greatly valued and learned from.
The list is long when you talk about the numerous clients and businesses that Greg has been involved throughout his career, but being part of the formation of the After Hours Surgery in Christchurch was certainly one of the highlights. The challenges of the earthquakes, the various stock crashes and global financial crisis have all come and gone, but over this time Greg has developed a large and loyal client base who has appreciated his professional service and trusted advice. This client loyalty is a result of the fact that he prides himself on his integrity and has a genuine care for his clients.
“It takes a long time to build a trusted relationship” says Greg, “I have been fortunate enough to have developed a lot of business relationships and good friendships over the length of my career”. One of these is John Wright of Cutler & Co who has spent years finding me a decent shirt to wear. Greg also pays a special mention to his wife Sue, whose close friends and family contacts have assisted in widening his introduction to new clients. “Sue has been my best referral partner as well” he laughs.
Some of the family businesses Greg started working with in the 80’s, now have the next generation involved or at the helm. “I’ve enjoyed working across the generations with some of the key families I have helped along the way; I will certainly miss those interactions”.
There have also been some great friendships developed with colleagues and partners from HFK, and more recently Nexia New Zealand. “I remember I turned up to work on my 50th birthday to everything in my office wrapped in glad wrap, it took me hours to unwrap everything and then when I left the office to rush to a client meeting, I found my car had also fallen victim to the pranksters”!
Greg also pays credit to the hard working team that have willingly worked with him to achieve his high level of productivity and large client base. “Fiona (Fiona Mace – Client Manager Nexia New Zealand) has been my right-hand person for so long, her knowledge of my clients and her support is immeasurable”.
Jane Jackman, Audit Director at Nexia New Zealand, has worked with Greg for 20 years next April. “He has been a great supporter of bringing new partners through and I have learnt an immeasurable amount from him” says Jackman. “He has been a mentor and a role model, he is a great listener and looks after those that work with him with care, I will miss him a lot”.
Greg’s future isn’t entirely planned, which is unusual for an accountant and business advisor who has built a successful business on being detailed and process driven. He will be moving to Wanaka with his wife Sue, but “at this stage there are no real plans, we’ve been holidaying in Wanaka for years, we have a lot of friends down there so we are looking forward to settling there permanently, although we intend to keep a small property in Christchurch so we can still visit family and friends regularly”.
Greg will still retain his Directorships and the focus will move to embracing the sport and recreational opportunities that Wanaka has to offer.
Greg’s last day for Nexia New Zealand will be effective from 31 July 2019, and his intention over the next 8 months will be to ensure a smooth transition for his loyal clients.