Finalist swaps farms for figures

By Tessa Johnstone tessa.johnstone@age.co.nz


Farmer-turned-accountant Lawrence Field admits to missing the outdoors sometimes.

"I still miss being outside and working with animals and pastures but I balance that - we've got a small lifestyle block, 28 steers on that, and I get out on my road bike as much as I can."

The former sharemilker, now director of Rural CA, is a finalist in the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants Leadership Awards next week.

Mr Field started out as an agricultural engineer and then spent 14 years sharemilking. He went back to school to get a grounding in law and marketing before he started his own business, which is where he got a taste for accountancy.

"I really just took accounting to fill up my timetable but ended up developing it and continued on to do my BCA degree, and then the chartered accountant qualification."

Mr Field said he liked the logic of accounting, was good at it and enjoyed it. Although he worked for another firm for the first two years after qualifying, the end goal of setting up his own business with a specialisation in rural accounting stayed with him - he set up Rural CA in 2010 and now employs three staff.

Mr Field is one of four finalists in the Westpac 2012 Outstanding New Member of the Year category, open to those who have been a member of NZICA for less than five years, and is competing with people half his age.

"You don't have to enter accounting in your 20s. It's a good option for someone looking for a career change and it's possible to start a business from scratch and build a successful business, but the key to that is specialising. It's hard to be a generalist."

Mr Field said his farming background has helped his business. He has got a good understanding of the constantly changing regulations around farming and has a good idea of farmers' challenges.

"It's the background understanding, knowing what farmers go through, being up-to-date and being able to talk their language. It gives a bit of credibility and, as well, farmers relate well to other farmers."

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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