Secret life of bookkeepers | How rivers, trains & travel help me run my business

June 13, 2017

There’s more to any of us than meets the eye – but the truth can be especially surprising when you work in an industry that’s often stereotyped as dull or boring. Over the next few months, we’ll hear from a range of bookkeepers and discover the diverse hobbies and travel tales that make up the rich interests of the industry.   We kick off the conversation with First Class Accounts bookkeeper Anthony Furniss — a fly fishing and model train enthusiast from South Africa — to find out what makes him tick.

You’ve had an interesting life Anthony, tell us a bit about that.  

I migrated to Australia from South Africa 18 years ago and have worked in finance for most of my life. The conditions of my business visa meant I had to open a business and employ people within the first three years of arriving in Australia. So, about a year in I left my role as a risk analyst at David Jones to join The Cheesecake Shop franchise – and I opened my own shop in Sydney.   I moved into franchise finance and returned to David Jones before I discovered First Class Accounts. I decided to join their bookkeeping franchise in 2009 and now own two bookkeeping businesses in New South Wales. It’s a wonderful company.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Apart from my clients, my passion is fly fishing and model trains. These activities are so different to bookkeeping and allow me to relax in a really positive way. When I’m fly fishing the beauty of my surrounds and the focus of what I’m doing allows my mind to rest from everyday stresses. However, living in Sydney means it’s often difficult to reach my favourite rivers quickly and I can’t always afford to leave my business for the time required to fish. So, I took up model train building too.

Some might say that’s not ‘cool’. How do you define the word?

I think a hobby that sits outside of that which the mainstream deems as ‘cool’ is the real definition of the word. There’s so much creativity involved in building model trains, from soldering and painting to learning how to wire up the electronics that power them. It’s a hobby that’s allowed me to travel – and a lack of understanding of that can be a close-minded way to think about things.

Where have you travelled to?  

I’ve been around Australia and to England, where I took part in a massive model train exhibition at the Guildex show in 2016. Some of my friends and I shipped one of our award-winning layouts to the UK to take part in the show. It was a mammoth task that involved some pretty complex logistics and a whole lot of time for just two days, but it was totally worth it for all the interest and praise we got from the crowd.

Do you think your hobbies add value to your work as a bookkeeper?

Absolutely, some of my best ideas come when I’m out on the river or working on my trains. I think by engaging my creative brain it gives my analytical one the chance to rest and subconsciously solve work problems I’ve been wrestling with. My hobbies also allow me to connect with my clients because it helps them to see me as well-rounded person with a life outside work. In sharing my hobbies I’ve also managed to get one of my clients as mad for model trains as me!

How much time do you get to spend indulging your hobbies?

Not as much as I’d like, but a whole lot more than I used to now I run my own franchise. The First Class Accounts culture encourages and gives us the support to structure our franchise to achieve a good work-life balance. I’ve also built up my business to be able to employ staff to share the workload and I’ve embraced cloud accounting software such as Xero to improve efficiency and allow remote working. All of this means I get to spend more time doing what I love with friends and family.

What advice would you give to people who don’t have a hobby?

Find one! Having something to focus on and inspire you outside of work is so important for your well-being and your business. It’s funny how technology can help you switch off.

Anthony Furniss is a First Class Accounts bookkeeper with extensive experience in the banking, retail, food and finance sectors. He prides himself on providing businesses with customised bookkeeping solutions that allow them to focus on growing with confidence.

This feature was originally published on Xero’s blog:


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