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2022 12 02 James Graham Kearney Group Feature

James Graham in the spotlight at Kearney Group.

2 December 2022 Read time: 5 min

Who has had a close encounter with a bikie gang, runs marathons, is a chartered accountant and has an almost mullet (because it’s been a long winter and ‘when else’ he reckons)? Why, that would be Kearney Group’s very own James Graham. Interesting combo, so let’s get to know the man behind the (almost, remember) mullet.

A rising talent at Kearney Group, James is a natural conversationalist, interested in the bigger picture and long-term relationships with clients. He’s knockabout and no-nonsense, but also deeply committed to the pursuit of self-improvement. Look up ‘Growth Mindset’ in the dictionary, and you’re gonna find Jimmy’s photo.

We had a really interesting chat with James – covering everything from how his first job was an unlikely formative experience, through to his recent promotion  at Kearney Group.

Oh hayyy...
it's James!


James Graham Business Advisor

James Graham.

 

Role:
Assistant Manager (Business Advisory)

Part of our team since:
2020

Education:
Chartered Accountant
Bachelor of Commerce, Latrobe University

Favourite food:
Mexican por favor.

On the weekend, you’ll find James:
Training or exercising somewhere

Quirky fact:
I’ve only got one kidney

Join our team

James, tell us about your role.

 

Sure! I’m very lucky in that my days are quite varied. I work on consulting and also compliance within an Integrated Advice Team. On the compliance side, from July until about now, lots of my work is on tax returns and reviewing end of year accounts, and  importantly getting clients involved in this process. When consulting, I could be doing anything from assisting a client to set up a new company to helping improve labour efficiency within a business.

For all clients, I try to create a really open and comfortable environment rather than a transactional one.

I can talk to just about anyone, so that helps! I enjoy building a rapport with clients and so catching up with them year-on-year feels relaxed. I want people to walk away from Kearney Group thinking ‘that was a great experience… Really easy and smooth’.

I want all of my clients to feel seen and heard, and know that they’re important. I want them to walk away thinking ‘that was a great experience’.

What’s a highlight (and low-light) of your job?

 

Yes, a satisfying highlight for me is when I get to see a client achieve a milestone or move into the next phase of life. For example they might want to buy an investment property. We’ll work on the tax piece and get Private Wealth to do some modelling or a financial plan and often it will come to fruition. It’s really cool when a client has an idea for their future and we get to say ‘yes, you can afford to do this, and we’ll help make it happen.’

Of course, there are hard times but there are also lessons in the tougher parts of our job too. For example, when a client is being audited, that’s tough. But it’s also an education piece that ‘together, you [i.e. our client], Kearney Group and the ATO are going to work to resolve this’. It’s really important that clients know they’re not alone. That it’s a team effort. And, that it’s actually just a series of steps to follow and not destined to be a terrible experience.

I also really believe you can’t hide behind email when you need to have a tough conversation with a client. Instead, pick up the phone, be their sounding board and make it clear you’re there for them!

 

 

Why Business Advisory? What gets you out of bed in the morning?

 

I want all clients to feel seen and heard. Irrespective of how big their business is or how much they earn, I want to provide true value to each client’s life because that’s the goal. That’s what makes it worthwhile.

So I’m always looking for ways to help beyond just doing a tax return. This is why our Integrated Advice Teams work so well. I get to take that extra moment to look for other opportunities and work with our Private Wealth or Strategic Lending advisers to make a real difference.

 

Our clients are more than just numbers. I want to provide true value to each client, above and beyond the consultation fee. That’s the goal, the part that makes everything worthwhile.

Tell us something fun about a previous job.

 

My first job was a pizza delivery driver! They did typically Aussie style pizzas and loaded the toppings right up… 2 pizzas and a garlic bread for $20. It was a quintessential corner-shop family business with just 3 employees.

Sometimes I’d deliver to a well-known bikie gang location. I remember approaching the building and big bright flood lights came on and a couple of enormous biker guys came out. They were totally ripping me! I’m thinking ‘here we go, what’s going to happen?’, and then they stopped and gave me the biggest tip I’ve ever received. A whole $10! Needless to say, it scared me straight into accounting.

Jokes aside, that was my first insight into family business and how reliant everyone is on each other to keep the wheels turning. Interestingly, I see that now mirrored in lots of Kearney Group clients – the intersection between business and household and how delicate that balance can be.

 

 

What are some values that guide your work and personal life?

 

Authenticity. I am a big believer in showing who you are, and not hiding behind a facade. Whatever you bring into the world and show people, make sure it’s really you, or it’s a hard slog to keep up appearances.

I’m also really drawn to the idea of being ‘better’ and improving. Whether that’s me running a faster marathon, or providing a better client service every day. I get frustrated when people don’t have a willingness to learn or improve themselves. We all make mistakes… It’s what we do afterwards that’s important.

Another one for me is chasing discomfort. I feel that in the world we live in today, people crave comfort and familiarity (which is understandable). But I feel that discomfort is what helps us push forward and to improve… For me it might be having a cold shower in the morning or getting out in the rain and running, when my natural instinct is to stay curled up on the couch.

James Graham Kearney Group

James hiking Te Tapu-nui (aka Queenstown Hill), 2022

I like to live by the ethos of ‘chasing discomfort’… That’s the thing that helps you push forward and improve.

Why Kearney Group above other firms?

 

Kearney Group has already given me so many opportunities to grow and improve, with a wide variety of clients and experiences.

I get to have direct contact with the clients and business owners I dealt with. Getting to work with clients personally (even when you’re new or in a more junior role) is something you just don’t get at the really big firms.

Also, the community we have at Kearney Group is incredible. I have fantastic mentors who have trusted me with opportunities to lead projects, which isn’t commonplace in our field.
I also just love hanging out in the Kearney Group office. If you enjoy going into your office and seeing your colleagues, to me that’s a good cultural sign.

 

 

10 years down the track, how does life look at Kearney Group?

 

The (almost) mullet might be gone, I’m sure!

I’d love to see the growth of the Integrated Advice Teams, and potentially have a managerial role. I really believe in our integrated advice model and see the awesome things the IATs are doing for our clients’ lives.

 

Looking for a team to call home?

 If you’re good with numbers and even better people, we’d love to hear from you.

(Interview tip: You don’t have to run marathons or have braved bikies).

Get in touch.

Speak to the team.