Darwin-based Emma Pearce, Principal of Dynamic Financial Management, says her long-term aim is to build up the non-profit sector’s talent pool of managers with good financial skills.
When Emma Pearce CPA finished her Bachelor of Commerce triple degree in accounting, management and marketing at country Victoria’s Deakin University in 2007, her career options were up in the air.
Applying for jobs in various disciplines, she landed a role as a junior accountant in South Australia and reflects that “accounting kind of landed in my lap”.
Now running her own public practice firm, Dynamic Financial Management, Pearce lives in Darwin and specialises in financial and management accounting services for non-profit organisations in remote and regional areas.
“Marketing lost out to accounting,” she says. “Initially, I didn’t know where I wanted to go with work, but accounting has proven to be very rewarding.”
Pearce moved to Darwin in 2009 and joined accounting firm Merit Partners. She gained considerable exposure to non-profit groups through roles at Matrix on Board (a national financial management consultancy for non-profit groups) and a one-month stint at East Pilbara Independence Support, which provides care services to aged and disabled people in Western Australia.
Drawing from a childhood love of mathematics and her CPA training, Pearce prefers delivering management accounting services rather than just tax advice.
“Year-end accounting is not valuable to people who are making decisions every day,” says Pearce, adding that she enjoys helping to transform her clients’ operations and the impact they have on the community.
“I never thought that accounting would lead me to being able to provide back to the community in this way,” she says.
Pearce set up Dynamic Financial Management in 2014 in the belief that there was a need for an accounting service that catered to the different service needs of non-profit groups in the Northern Territory. She sees it as her role to empower people through mentoring and education.
NFP differences in the accounting standards
“My goal is that eventually they won’t need me as much,” she says. “I’d rather teach people how to do things themselves and understand things ... so I tend to do myself out of a job by upskilling staff!”
The benefit for her comes in the form of referrals from satisfied clients – and knowing that she has assisted a good cause.
Pearce believes there is a shortage of board talent in the Northern Territory and plans to roll out services that teach board members, executives and operational staff about “the numbers” of their businesses – how to interpret them and how to make appropriate decisions based on financial figures.
As a sole trader, she hopes to employ additional staff to ease the load in the next couple of years. For now, however, she is enjoying the opportunity to pursue her passion for accountancy and deliver professional services in the more casual way that is appropriate for the Northern Territory.
“I like to work with clients on site,” says Pearce. “I never wanted to be an accountant who wore a suit to work every day. It’s nice to be able to chuck on the jeans and a shirt and go and get a bit dirty.”
One piece of career advice
“Don’t forget the client you are servicing ... tailor your services to their needs. It’s all about creating value.”
Finance skills fill a gap in the not-for-profit sector