Gilligan Sheppard: People, Not Transactions 

September 2019

What do we do? Whatever it takes.

We are an accounting firm based in Auckland, New Zealand, that likes to dazzle. We work with our clients to guide them, challenge them, work with them and help them to get the right results.
The starting point is all about learning, thinking and challenging. The thought process is to build outcomes and relationships through a deep understanding of our clients’ needs and the outcomes they seek.

“The relationship is everything,” says Yi Ping. “Elsewhere, firms look at clients as only as good as their last transaction. Here, we want a lifetime relationship, really getting to know our clients as people, and this is because we like to get really involved with people.” 

“We get beneath their skin and know them better. We become friends - family first. We will visit people in their homes to know them better, go fishing on their boats, and spend time talking with them about their families, marriages – important things in their lives. And this means we can then create better solutions for them.”

  Yi Ping is one of the partners and heads up our Chinese team. Originally from the Zhejiang province in China, Yi Ping obtained an engineering degree in Beijing, China,  and then later a commerce degree in Auckland, New Zealand. Yi Ping tells the story of one of our long-term clients - a lady she met and got along with well. When returning to China over the next few years they would go shopping together. Over time this lady became a significant client, and the personal relationship has given Yi Ping much more of a picture of her than as just a company or business.
“By knowing the person well we can get to the ‘why’ better – a much bigger picture,” she says. “We understand their philosophy. Learning this was a milestone for me. If you can’t get beneath the surface, if you don’t really understand what they are aiming for and driving at. The deeper the relationship, the more likely you are to challenge well, and not just give the answer they want to hear. By being honest and careful to provide good advice, over time it develops the trust you need to get the right outcome.”

More than half a dozen members in our team, including Yi Ping, who converse in Cantonese, Mandarin or both. With WeChat being a preferred communication option, it’s no wonder that more than 30% of our clients are Asian speaking.

"We are not an echo chamber here; our job is not to agree. I often see accountants tell clients what they want to hear because they’re scared. Not here,”  says Richard Ashby - Partner.

Richard leads our international tax team who deal with clients of all types and sizes providing tax opinions on the application of New Zealand tax legislation to client scenarios.

Combine the communication skills and specialist knowledge – then compare our services to any of the big four and you’ll find that the difference is a lifetime relationship. We respond quickly so that our clients feel prioritised and respected – Chinese culture demands that of professional services, which we understand thoroughly.

Building a lifetime relationship enriches the lives of our team and clients in many ways, but never more effectively than when the going gets tough. In these circumstances we become confidantes, fighting for our clients and representing them to get the best outcome. When we develop our clients’ thinking, networks and relationships, connecting them and sharing knowledge in order to grow their resources and lives, it gives us the biggest buzz. When the relationship is deep and long, and successful for all participants in it, it makes us happiest.