An up and coming Whangārei firm was one of four national finalists in the recent 2019 Small Accounting Partner of the Year award in Wellington.

"Just being nominated for the award was a huge accolade for Villa," said company director Annè Lensink.

"We were up against bigger, more established accounting firms but, not only that, the shortlisting criteria for the event was particularly stringent.''

Since its launch in late 2017, Lensink has overseen a rapid rise of Villa Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors, currently based at The Orchard, Northland Inc's Business and Events Hub.

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"We were nominated because of our fast business growth, and because we had demonstrated innovation and dedication in delivering value-added client service in response to industry changes.

''Although we didn't bring home the award, I'm immensely proud that a small start-up business from the North was shortlisted among the final four. I'm passionate about growing Northland businesses and the Northland economy."

The business will soon move into new office premises in Whangārei, a traditional villa on Maunu Rd, currently being renovated.

Lensink said The Orchard environment had suited the company well during its start-up phase.

''The business advice and support we've received from Northland Inc has also been invaluable. It was just so easy to get started, to rent a desk, to build a fantastic team, to entertain clients – the benefits for us have been enormous.

"To anyone who might be thinking of renting space at The Orchard, I would say to them it's a no-brainer, don't hesitate to do it.''

Villa now has five employees, one intern whose desk is sponsored by Northland Inc and more than 450 clients.

"I believe that traditional accounting is dead," said Lensink, who started Villa after spending a decade working for bigger accounting firms.

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"My aim is to help our clients achieve three freedoms: financial freedom, time freedom and mind freedom. I see us as more than 'just' an accountancy firm – we're a valued member of your team and your decision-making process.

''I don't want us to be the biggest, I want us to be the best."