As far back as the early 70s, Lyall Brown has been the driving force behind the accounting business that has ultimately morphed into Alliott NZ Ltd.
That has not been done without his passion for client service and accounting industry foresight.
Before Lyall even dipped his toes into public practice, he spent nearly 10 years learning the ropes of the retail grocery industry as a head office accountant at Foodstuffs, Auckland. His formal accounting degree came via night school after which he fledged NZ’s shores to do a stint of contract accounting in the UK for two years.
Home beckoned and, in October 1973, Lyall took up a position with Thompson & Francis in Auckland. Six months later he was offered a partnership and as well as accounting and tax he specialised in Receiverships and Liquidations, becoming the external receiver for dairy and supermarket businesses.
It was during this time that Lyall acquired particular insight into what not to do when running a business and according to Lyall in most cases bad management was the driver more than any other reason.
The 80s arrived, and the accounting industry was moving apace. Lyall and his then partner Ivan Francis, seeking global best practice, signed up with Alliott Group and renamed their business Alliott Thompson Francis. As well as a focus on tax, management accounting and trusts, they established a network of like-minded accountants both in New Zealand and overseas.
“We decided we wanted to get a higher profile by joining an international alliance,” says Lyall. “It was a great fit for our Auckland business.”
After being an active participant in Alliott Group conferences for a number of years, Lyall was ultimately appointed to the Asia-Pacific advisory committee and went on to become the Asia Pacific Chairman and a member of the Alliott Group board of directors from 2006 until 2009.
As well as quarterly updates with members Lyall coordinated and conducted a quality review process for accounting business members, “We’d get together twice a year as a worldwide board and the dynamics were amazing. I was grateful that I could bring that back to New Zealand each time.”
Upon retiring as a partner of Alliott NZ Lyall resigned from the international board and was honoured to be recognised by the worldwide Alliott Group as a life member.
“In the days when I think back to when I first became a partner, my wife Lin and I also had two littlies 18 months apart,” says Lyall. “I couldn’t have achieved everything I did in my career without my very supportive wife of 42 years!”
“We would literally have dinner and then I would head back to work or bring work home. In the early days we were always 75% to 80% productive so we dealt with the office admin after hours – often when we should’ve been relaxing at home.”
Lyall is looking forward very much to full retirement from December onwards.When asked ‘why now’, he puts it down to drawing that ubiquitous line in the sand.
“I will have done 43 years at Alliotts and 54 years in the accounting profession,” says Lyall. “I have enjoyed working with all my clients and, whilst that has been somewhat of a vocation, I will not miss the complexity of NZ tax law nor having to complete hours and hours of continuing professional education!”
“I will miss my day to day banter with all my Alliotts’ colleagues but, on the upside, I hope to spend more time with our grandchildren and our own children. Up until now the latter have spent much of their adult lives overseas but both are intending to return to NZ permanently at the end of this year.”
“It’s heartening to know that my ‘other baby’ Alliott NZ will be left in the greatest of hands,” says Lyall. “I have every confidence that Vanessa and Greg will continue the good work and take the business to its next exciting stage.”