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accountants and bookkeepers

2022 Australian Accounting Awards: Intuit's Shaye Thyer nominated for Thought Leader of the Year

We are happy to announce that Shaye Thyer, Head of Accounting at Intuit Australia, has been nominated for the Thought Leader of the Year category of the 2022 Australian Accounting Awards.

A passionate and driven disruptor in the accounting industry, Thyer leads the team responsible for supporting the success of accounting and bookkeeping partners, through cloud accounting solutions and modern practice digitalisation.

Having started her career as an accountant herself, Thyer uses her experience working in various accounting firms, to make sure that Intuit authentically aligns with what advisors need in their growth mission.

The shift to digitalisation

It was only in 2014 that everything changed when Thyer came across cloud accounting.

“I was a late adopter of cloud accounting. The accounting firms that I worked at previously were very traditional and had no exposure to modern and digital ways of delivering client service. It was very manual, lots of binders and paperwork,” she says.

“But as soon as I was there, I was there in a massive way. Moving to the cloud made such a difference to my career and made such an impact on the way that I could engage with my clients. I wanted to help to make sure that everybody knew about cloud accounting, and that no one else was a late adopter like I was,” Thyer says.

Prior to Intuit, Thyer worked at BDO for over four years.

“Typically, what we see is that these large firms are slow on the digital uptake. So, over the course of 18 months, I delivered the partnerships and frameworks to allow the teams to move about 5,000 clients to the cloud.

“Across BDO’s many geographically dispersed offices at the time, it was my job to make sure that everyone who was client-facing, had the right support to move their clients to the cloud. I always think about that as a huge impact,” Thyer says.

Amongst those 5,000 small businesses, many had exponentially more time to focus on other areas of their business as a result of moving to the cloud.

Shortly after the completion of this project, Thyer was recognised as a Fellow with Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (FCA) for her outstanding career achievements and contributions to the accounting industry. 

Now at Intuit, Thyer says her role is to ensure customer obsession with advisors is on point for meaningful impact and influence within the accounting industry.

“Accountants are a proud profession with a delicate eye for credibility, so having a FCA within the Intuit business is very helpful for this purpose.

“The accounting function is such a critical function in the way that our economy operates – particularly in its support of small businesses. This is why the introduction of cloud accounting was a huge enabler of so many things that I could do in my role. Technology is the amazing enabler of scale of impact,” Thyer says.

This included the ability to reach more clients and help them achieve scale commercially.

Thyer says that cloud accounting encouraged her to find her voice in the industry.

“I pushed into a place that was very outside the box for me. It was very scary, but in doing that, a lot of people came along on that journey, because they resonated with me and where I was at.”

Today, Thyer is using her cloud accounting experience to educate businesses about its importance and how they can improve their systems and implement a more efficient practice management process.

“I firmly believe that shifting to cloud accounting will have a positive impact on not only business operations, but also for the quality of life of the advisor and their clients.”

Take the stress out of managing your firm

The need for gender equality at the partnership level

“In my first professional role, the most immediate thing that I had to learn very quickly was how to play the “boys club game”. There were no female partners in the firm. There were 12 partners, and they all really looked reasonably similar,” Thyer says.

But the absence of female leaders wasn’t due to the lack of females working in the accounting industry.

“When we look at the demographic of people graduating with an accounting degree, there’s an even split between male and female at the graduate and intermediate level. When you get to the senior management level, we see more women progress in those roles.

“But at the partner level, that’s when we see a 20:80 shift with more men making it to partnership and women tumbling off – what I think of as – a ‘career cliff’.”

Thyer says the poor representation of women at the partnership level is a self-perpetuating reason why there are so many barriers preventing women from making partner in the future.

“Currently, only around 20 percent of our partners across the country are female, and there is no good reason for it. What that does is create a vicious cycle of women thinking that they can't do it, so they leave the industry.

“That also means we've got many clients missing out. In my opinion, a business should reflect the diversity of its client base.”

This gap at the partnership level, Thyer says, is also due to people’s unconscious bias.

“There are certainly challenges around the way that accounting firms operate that creates structural barriers for women. I would say that there is a consensus at that level that you can't be a partner if you're working part time, or if you have other responsibilities that prevent you from working 80 hours a week. This is fundamentally false.

“In the majority of homes, women are the primary carer in their families, and they are made to feel that they must put their career aside because society norms force them to choose between family and work.”

On achieving gender equality through quotas, Thyer says that her stance on this has changed over time.

“I was always against achieving gender equality through quotas because under no circumstances did I want to be a token female. I want to be promoted based on merit, not because I'm a female,” Thyer says.

“But what I do know is that to get from this place – where we are and where we're not happy with – to a place where we don't have to talk about bias and gender inequality; we must be very deliberate in our actions.

“You can't be what you can't see. So, unless we are deliberate about moving women up into leadership roles, we will never break that toxic cycle,” Thyer says.

Upcoming trends in the industry

“The level of activism around gender equality reflects a shift in the entire economy and society. We've got amazing people like Grace Tame to thank for making lots of noise. And we should keep making noise,” Thyer says.

Another trend in the accounting industry is that many advisors are diversifying their skill set.

“Since the pandemic, there has been a huge focus on making sure that advisors were diversifying their skill set,” Thyer says.

This is to ensure that they are continuously adding value to their clients’ business.

“Most accounting firms have about 80 percent of their revenue derived by compliance work such as lodging tax returns and BAS. So, there is this need to diversify into advisory to protect the firm’s revenue streams as that becomes more automated.”

But at the same time, the focus shouldn’t be solely on the shift to more advisory work, Thyer warns.

“It's about what we can do to make sure that we're adding value to clients in all our services, compliance-focused and advisors, so their outcomes are amazing.”

Intuit Australia is a principal partner of the Australian Accounting Awards which recognises success, professionalism and innovation amongst Australian accountants. Find out more about the event here.

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