Blenheim chartered accountants Leslie & O’Donnell offer clients a valuable combination of in-depth local knowledge along with commercial nous. A 16-strong team can advise on everything from day-to-day compliance and business valuations to family succession plans.
Alex Barton, who joined Paul O’Donnell as director in the Seymour Street firm two years ago, believes they are well placed to service small to medium-sized businesses, including wineries, farmers and local retailers.
Originally from a family farm in the King Country, Alex grew up in the Waikato and graduated from Auckland University with a joint degree in law and commerce, specialising in accounting.
For the next 10 years she worked in London, Sydney and with Air New Zealand in Auckland, across finance, investor relations and strategy. Alex now draws upon those high-level corporate credentials for the benefit of local clients.
Her new perspective sits comfortably with Paul’s deep Marlborough roots – his father Edwin was a Blenheim GP for 50 years – his granular knowledge of the region, and his seasoned approach to providing solutions to the diverse needs of the firm’s clients.
“I think we provide a good balance, an experienced commercial accountant who’s fresh to the neighbourhood working together with Paul who has been a trusted adviser to the local community for nearly 30 years,” says Alex.
Hands-on business experience
This pairing also provides hands-on experience in the local retail and hospitality sectors – Alex’s husband Richard is the owner of wholefood café Herb + Olive while Paul and his wife Michelle are joint owners of Cycle World.
“We’re both involved in running businesses, not just talking about it,” says Paul. “As a firm we’re doing much more business advisory work, getting alongside clients to work on goal setting, estate planning and creating efficiency through new technology.”
Leslie & O’Donnell are a gold status partner with Xero, the New Zealand cloud-based software platform that is revolutionising business accounting worldwide.
“Our team is excited about new technology and offers free Xero training as part of our service,” says Paul. Using Xero offers a multitude of benefits, which clients will be able to gauge for themselves later in the year when Xero representatives visit, Paul adds. Xero’s new developments and enhancements will be available to all Leslie & O’Donnell clients.
The links between the firm and the wider community continue to grow stronger with Alex a director of Marlborough Airport Limited and MDC Holdings Limited, the company overseeing the airport, Port Marlborough, and council-owned subdivisions.
In addition, she has recently joined the newly established Audit and Risk sub-committee of the Te Tauihu-based iwi Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō. The sub-committee will work across the iwi’s group structure to help safeguard iwi member assets for future generations.
As part of a broader, proactive approach to support clients, Leslie & O’Donnell last year invited Ian Blackman, an authority on rural succession planning, to speak to farmers and vineyard owners. In June, Paul will be presenting at a Red Meat Profit Partnership workshop in Blenheim, also on succession planning, while later in the year the firm will be partnering with Craigs Investment Partners to host a seminar on family trusts.
The firm prides itself on its loyal and long-serving team who have formed strong relationships with local families and their businesses. “Our commitment is to treat our clients as family, providing honest reliable support throughout each of their unique journeys,” says Paul.