The Chartered Accountant Who Joined The Creative Swarm

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Chartered accountant Tim Anderson loves Swarm days where the staff at advertising agency BWM Group adjourn to the pub for an hour and brainstorm a large client brief.

This is business and they drink mineral water but ideas can come from anyone, from the creative director to someone in accounts payable.

“I’m the voice of reason, myself and my finance staff,” Anderson, the CFO, says.

“It’s forever changing. It’s definitely not a routine job.”

Mr Anderson did business studies at the University of Technology, Sydney, while working a cadetship at accountancy firm Horwath and Horwath.

He then travelled and worked in London for another accountancy firm before returning to Australia and completing the Chartered Accountants Program.

After that he headed out again, this time to Ireland where he joined an accountancy firm in a small town in 2004-5.

There they didn’t use email and the boss didn’t have a computer. “Very old school. He was a smart fellow and had a great team beneath him.”

Back in Australia, he jumped into the advertising/marketing communications industry in 2006 joining BWM Group which has offices in Sydney and Melbourne and a staff of 140.

“I am now in an extremely creative environment for BWM Group which has a mantra of: Ideas that get Australians talking,” Mr Anderson says.

He works in an open plan office where the people are very entrepreneurial, a creative team environment where ideas can come from anyone.

“It’s fun and my work is across a lot of different facets of business rather than only churning out tax returns or annual accounts where you might see the clients for one or two days a year.

“Here my clients are my colleagues but also my business clients.

“I get to go out on shoots. We get to see the juices flow from our creative team and the TV producer, the actors and the music.”

When he was a child he wanted to be a veterinary scientist but he always had an interest in business.

“The Chartered Accountants program gave me the leverage to jump off as a CFO into this creative area,” he says.

“It allows me to differentiate myself in the agency because I do have that specialist skill set but at the same time I still get exposed to all facets of the general management of the business.”

He runs a team of seven covering finance, human resources and IT functions.

“My brief is to provide financial support and growth strategies for the managing directors,” he says.

“On top of that, it’s general business management, problem solving and putting out fires; providing that voice of reason to a fast-paced creative environment.

“The agency comes alive when we’ve got a pitch on new business and everybody just helps out and rattles together to churn this pitch document out within half the time you would like. There’s an amazing buzz.”

He’s always drawing on his knowledge as a Chartered Accountant. For the acquisition of a digital player, Sputnik agency in Melbourne, he did the analysis work, the due diligence, the negotiation and the completion of that transaction.

“You always tap into that skill set,” he says. “I have different conversations with an auditors than I have with a creative director. “

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