Peter McKinnon’s speech from the BMO ‘Year of Celebration’ Event held on 19 August 2015.
As Dave has mentioned it is 25 years since BMO, as we know it, began. For me it’s been a bit longer in the accounting profession. I started writing up cash books for my father when I was about 14. I turn 57 next month so it’s been over 40 years doing journal entries!
With this in mind and with a heavy heart I today announce that as of July 1st 2016 I will officially retire. You will notice that I am making the announcement very early as it very important to me that our team here at BMO and our clients have time to adjust to the idea over the next 10 months. It also gives my lovely wife Jenny time to adjust to the idea that she’s going to have me around a bit more by the end of next year.
So why am I retiring? I just feel the time is right. When you know, you know. From when I first formed BMM back in 1990, I have watched this business go through different phases. In the early years, there was adopting new technology – like computers, software. Today I feel as though our industry is on the cusp of the next era. With the advent of new superannuation laws and the shift towards cloud accounting, I just felt like the time was right for me to give the next generation of our business the freedom to emerge and grow into our future leaders. As Michelle pointed out earlier we have some fantastic young team members coming up through the ranks. Don’t get me wrong, I love learning and I’m sure in the next stage of my life I will continue to grow and learn.
One of the great thrills of being an Accountant has been working with clients planning your future. Whether it has been buying assets within your superfund, legally minimising your tax, or increasing your business profit, it has all been about having goals and working towards them. So the other reason why I feel it’s ok for me to retire is that I think it’s important to ‘practice what you preach’.
In the early 1990s, I attended a conference run by a guy called Paul Dunn. Paul spoke about things like the lifetime value of a client and that your team members (prior to this we call them ‘staff’) were your most important assets. He spoke about goal setting and having a vision. From that moment on, I really wanted BMO to be the best place to work for and do business with. Hence I am often asked if, when I started out, whether I ever thought BMO would be the business it is today. Of course I say NO – because it has grown bigger than I had ever imagined, but I do add that, as far as the client is treated, we have always worked hard to remain the same. Personal service, listening to your first, every step of the way. Similarly with our team members we have always strived to make BMO a great place to work. Everyone who has worked at other places and now work at BMO will tell you BMO is a wonderful place to work. Whilst congratulating one of our team on a recent milestone her words to me were ‘I just love working at BMO, it is a fabulous place to work”.
As those who know me well know I have always been an active member of the community – being a Dalby Town Councillor for seven years as well as President of the Chamber of Commerce for a similar time and various roles in rugby league and golf clubs over the years. So it was always important to me to build a business which would put back into the community. Over the years we have tried to support everything, and of course with the wages we pay, I believe we have been and will continue to be a good corporate citizen. It gives me great pride when I go out into our car park and see all the cars and think how good it is that BMO helps fund cars, homes, lifestyles and families.
Some of you will be aware, that we have a six monthly planning meeting for the partners and sometimes wider management team. It was at the February meeting that I announced my intentions to the partners, and later to the management team, of my desire to retire. I was really touched by the support and encouragement firstly the partners gave me and later the management team. Not long after this meeting, Jenny and I went to a two-day transition planning course. Together we worked on a strategy for the future. Surprisingly we were already doing a lot of the things that we hope to continue doing in the future. But the course was an important way for us to communicate with each other and provide clarity around our direction. I’d encourage others, no matter what age you are, to have those important conversations with your spouse and loved ones. Apparently a lot of people don’t plan their retirement!
At the top of my list are health and family. For me a lot of the hours sitting at a desk will be replaced by more active pursuits. At the same time I will embark on some consultancy work. Jenny and I do spend a lot of time with our adult sons and that will continue. Dalby will remain our base as we have so many wonderful friends here. I imagine that I’ll be keeping a close network with BMO and most probably popping in for morning tea when I can… particularly on Fridays when we have a really good smoko!
My retirement date is 1st July 2016 so it’s business as usual for the next 10 months. During this period I will do everything I can to ensure a smooth transition of clients to the appropriate partner. BMO has been a huge part of my life; in fact all of my children only know me as a BMO partner! I would not be comfortable retiring if I didn’t think I was leaving you in the most reliable, expert hands. I know how talented my fellow partners and team members are and I have every confidence that you will find the process will be straightforward and enjoyable.
I will not be going into a long speech of thank yous and goodbyes tonight. I will be saving that for the big party we’ll be holding next July! But I do want to acknowledge a few people. To the partners and management team, as a group of business leaders, you are inspiring and it has been so rewarding being in business with you.
To my wife Jenny, you have been my rock. We started with nothing but big dreams and a lot of those dreams have become reality, especially being the parents of four wonderful sons.
To our team, can I just say what a privilege it has been to be a leader of so many wonderful people? Nothing has given me more sense of pride then seeing you come to BMO after year 12 knowing very little and then in a couple of years’ time hearing you give sound advice to clients, seeing you work hard studying for your degree, then your CPA, seeing you become senior accountants and seeing you become my business partners.
And finally to all my valued clients it has been an honour to serve you over the years. Some of you are leaders in your industries, some are hugely respected community members, and you are all talented tradespeople, business owners and individuals. Most importantly, I can honestly say, you are all decent human beings who I have loved dealing with and I’m sure our friendship will continue beyond BMO.
It was very important to me that this announcement is not considered a sad announcement in any way. That’s why we are calling this a year of celebration. This is an exciting time for BMO. I look forward to celebrating the opportunities that lie ahead for me and my family, for BMO and for all of you.
I’d just like to finish off by telling you a little story.
About five years ago I went to a financial planning conference in Singapore. The final speaker was this guy called John Anderson. John, who was a New Zealander, told us how he went over to London with no money, ‘no nothing’, but he had a big dream.
He decided to get a little bus and take people backpacking around Europe. That was how he started out. He took that little business idea and he built it into Contiki – the massive company taking tours all over the world that is a household name today.
It’s an amazing story.
John is no longer with the business. But one thing he said stuck with me. Every time he’s walking down the street and he spots a Contiki bus drive past or a person in a Contiki uniform, he sheds a tear.
There is no doubt every time I drive past this building in the years to come, I will do the same. There is no doubt, when I see someone down the street in a BMO uniform, I will shed a little tear.
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