July 2020 represented a significant milestone in the commercial life of Central Queensland-based Accounting Firm James Becker & Co. The Firm officially became Becker & Co (QLD) recognising the retirement of its founder Jim Becker and the transfer of ownership to Jim’s daughters Sarah & Alexandra.
Born and bred in Central Queensland, Sarah and Alexandra combine their passion for the rural industry, family and business in their respective roles in the accounting practice. The Firm, through its specialisation in the rural sector, delivers technical expertise and professional service to clients using industry knowledge and experience gained from generations of active participation in primary production.
For Sarah Becker, her role is relatively unchanged having managed the practice with great competence for several years. After returning to the region 15 years ago following her graduation from University of Queensland, Sarah joined the family practice and worked her way through the ranks. During that time Sarah gained a detailed knowledge of the accounting and management issues confronting the rural industry as well as a working understanding of each client’s business.
Alexandra Becker joined the Firm in 2013 after gaining her Commerce/Law Degrees from University of Queensland. Like Sarah she has worked diligently to gain specialist knowledge of the rural industry and to apply it to assist clients in capitalising on business opportunities facing them, forging strong relationships on the journey.
Both ladies are qualified members of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and stringently observe the principles and ethics espoused by CAANZ in all of their decisions and business dealings.
Sarah and Alexandra, through hands-on experience in the family’s own rural enterprise, Jarrah Cattle Company, practise “sitting both sides of the desk”. They work collaboratively with their clients to understand the intricacies of their operations and identify solutions relevant to their business. However, this was not unique in the history of the Firm.
It was this same hands-on rural business experience that underpinned Jim Becker’s original establishment of the accounting practice. Armed with years of experience as a member of international accountancy firm Coopers & Lybrand, now PwC, and backed by seven years of work as a jackaroo in Central Queensland before completing his university degree, Jim identified an opportunity to set up a specialist primary production accountancy business.
While global firms certainly boasted experts in many fields, primary production was not catered for at that time. Additionally, the structure of the big firms precluded them from providing the personalised service and contact needed in the rural sector. This paved the way in October 1987 for the conception of James Becker & Co, an Accounting Firm specialising in primary production, and the office was opened in Rockhampton – a fitting choice being the beef capital of Australia.
The feature that sets the Firm apart is the detailed knowledge and understanding that is gained of each client’s business and the strong relationship that is engendered between the client and the accountant. Both of these are essential ingredients for the provision of accurate and relevant advice as well as identification and implementation of business opportunities.
The Firm prides itself in providing purely accounting and business advice and not becoming involved in other derivative businesses such as financial planning, mortgage broking, real estate or insurance broking. Sarah & Alexandra, as did Jim before them, see themselves as the last bastion of independent advice, and believe that being involved in those derivatives compromises their independence and potentially leads to a conflict of interest.
An important part of an Accountant’s brief must be to critically and objectively analyse every aspect of a client’s business including these derivative services. Hence, in order to carry out this brief impartially and objectively, the Firm elects not to engage in those derivative businesses.
An important and critical part of any business is acknowledging when outside specialist advice is needed. The Firm recognises when it is in a client’s interests that legal experts be engaged and Sarah & Alexandra are able to draw on their extensive network of business and commercial associates to identify the appropriate expert to fully support their own specialist services.