Why Don Rankin FCPA loves the company he keeps

A working relationship with Pitcher Partners has entered its 40th year and the ties that bind are as strong as ever.

At 16, country lad Don Rankin decided a jackaroo’s life was for him. His dream was well on the way to becoming reality when he received a scholarship to attend Bathurst Agricultural College in New South Wales. But before he could take up the offer in 1970, fate intervened.

“My father was a bank manager, so I went to about 11 different schools throughout my childhood,” Rankin explains.

“Dad’s next posting was Melbourne and he asked me if I was going to come along or if I was going to Bathurst. I chose Melbourne.”

Farming’s loss has been accounting’s gain as Rankin’s career continues to shine. He is now the chairman, executive director and former managing partner of Pitcher Partners, the firm he helped form in 1991.

I love the people I work with, and I love what Pitcher Partners stands for. I’ve never been tempted to move on.

First and foremost, Rankin is a company man, starting his working life in 1974 as a graduate with one of Pitcher Partners’ predecessors, Hungerford, Spooner & Kirkhope.

Don Rankin FCPA, Chairman, Pitcher Partners

Don Rankin FCPA, Chairman, Pitcher Partners

“The firm’s names may have changed, but the people I’ve worked with have largely stuck together,” he says, proud of the firm’s good standing with its clients.

“I love what I do, I love the people I work with, and I love what Pitcher Partners stands for.

"I believe we have very strong cultural values, and I’ve never been tempted to move on.”

Those values were shaped by company founder Ron Pitcher.

“Ron was a fantastic mentor. He treated everyone equally and with humility, so you could be dealing with the director of a public company or sorting out a business issue with the local plumber, and he would treat them exactly the same.

"I don’t think that happens very often. I learned that lesson early on thanks to Ron.”

Rankin says his career has grown organically, built on solid management principles and clear-thinking strategy. But there have been challenges. When a “cultural difference” resulted in a de-merger with KPMG in 1991, Pitcher Partners was formed. Rankin was one of the new firm’s original 14 partners.

“That was a really difficult time. When we were leaving, the managing partner of KPMG said: ‘The big difference between you guys and us is that you want to be participatory and we want to be advisory.’

"That still rings true. We want to be involved with our clients.

“One hundred and forty people took the leap of faith with us, and we were all hoping the clients would as well. We went out on our own in November, and although we’d been invoicing, we still hadn’t received a cent by January. That felt like a big risk at the time.”

Rankin sits on a number of advisory boards, chiefly the Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) where he acts as the deputy president, championing the middle market.

As Pitcher Partners continues to grow throughout Australia and Asia, Rankin is a great supporter of the segment he represents and the contribution of those “small” businesses.

“The middle market don’t go out and beat their chests, but businesses continue to grow without a high profile.

"They may not be publicly listed, but they do an enormous amount of good for the country and employ a lot of people. Their voice needs to be heard.”

Career history

1974 – 2014

2011 – present Return to business advisory partner sitting on a number of client advisory boards at Pitcher Partners Melbourne

2008 – present National chairman, Pitcher Partners

2003 – 2011 Managing partner, Pitcher Partners Melbourne

1991 – 2003 Founding partner of Pitcher Partners and partner-in-charge of audit and accounting services

1987 Partner in KPMG Private Business after merger with Hungerfords

1985 Appointed partner at Hungerfords

1979 Secondment to Alexander Grant in San Francisco

1976 Joined Australian Society of Accountants (now CPA Australia)

1974 Graduate start at Hungerford, Spooner & Kirkhope

This article is from the June 2014 issue of INTHEBLACK.

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