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See full profile: Roodepoort Accountant - Andrew Fairlie


Were you always planning to be an accountant and why?

I planned on studying law, but was advised its a lot of reading, and results are not always based on logic.. It was a good choice as I enjoy what I do and its rewarding to assist clients streamline their business

When meeting with clients do they mostly come to your own premises or do you mostly go their theirs?

I mostly go to my clients

What is your preferred mode of communication with your clients?


Have you ever done an online video call with a client?


What do you love most about accounting?

How logical accounting is and how every business is different in how it views accounting.. I enjoy explaining accounting and business principles to clients. The more information they, the more empowered they become.

Would you recommend accounting as a career for school-leavers, and why?

Yes definitely, it is a rewarding career and every day can be a learning opportunity. I continue to learn something new every day and I my experiences are valued by all my clients everyday, so much so, that am a business partner to them and just the "beancounter". We move forward together. 

What qualities should South African business people be looking for in their accountant?

Entrepreneurial mindset and a willingness to explore opportunities with their accountant. Financial statements etc is a small element of the knowledge an accountant possesses.

What is the biggest challenge facing accountants today?

Embracing technology is the biggest challenge facing accountant and industry in general.. You can fear it and disappear into the darkness, or embrace it and thrive..

What aspects of accounting do you focus on most?

I focus on ensuring that my clients are up to date... and once up to date, ensure they have a definite plan and strategy for the future. Without a plan or strategy, a business has no focus or direction.

Describe your average client:

My clients are my business partners. My clients are all focused on the future of their business and have instituted focused objectives to achieve specific goals that translate to success. My clients use the information of the past to forecast the future, be they financial or tech goals. They know where they need to go to survive.

How far away from your premises is your furthest client?

11,000 kilometres, they are based in London.. I use technology to share and collaborate with them and do group meetings via video conferencing.

From your accounting experience, if you could cite one of the biggest reasons SME's in SA fail, what would it be?

From an internal micro-economic perspective, most SME's will not focus on the future or focus their efforts to the future direction of the business. From an external macro-economic environment, I see that most SME's are not offered good opportunities and are sometimes excluded as they are perceived to be too small.

What accounting software do you like best?

I prefer working with Cloud-based systems - SageOne, Quickbooks Online, Xero. Its not for me, but my clients. It allows them and me to view their financial data from anywhere.. Likewise they can do invoicing and quotes via a mobile device, and I can view their records from my office without the need to travel back and forth.. It saves time and money and offer access to these platforms for free in my practice.

What other software, online services or apps do you use?

As accountants, we use Draftworx and Caseware. As part of reporting and analysis tools, we also use Excel with VB, and use Microsoft Power BI (Business Intelligence) for dashboards that enables real time information being available to us and our clients.

Do you think the coming wave of automation in the next few years will steal some accounting jobs and why/why not?

Yes, of course. Bookkeeping and common compliance items are becoming automated, so the days of the accountant drafting and reconciling etc are numbered. Accountant need to be business partners and guide their clients onto a growth path. If not, the client will never grow, and with that, the accountant either.

What is your opinion on Bitcoin?

I have seen how volatile it can be, and whilst intrigued by Bitcoin, I have not investigated how the underlying value of the Bitcoin asset is justified. Until I have looked at that, and determined that the value of Bitcoin is justified, I see it as a form of gambling.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I enjoy being active and participating in all sorts of outdoor activities. I am an avid Crossfitter, mountain biker, golfer and enjoy camping and braaiing with family and friends. I also like to identify something new, and research that item until I gain and understanding of the item.

What is the most interesting thing on your bucket list?

I shall build a house one day.... 

What has your experience been on FindanAccountant?

I am a newbie, so have felt the full experience yet? Let you know in a few months.

See how our other local South African accountants have answered the above questions.