At a glance
The practitioner: Raj Rana FCPA
Managing director and founder of Devonshire Accountants in Brisbane
I’ve always had friends from different backgrounds, and I love having clients from all walks of life. I was born in Kenya, which is a former British colony and a very multicultural place. English is the business language, Swahili is the national language, and I spoke Punjabi at home. I also taught myself Urdu and Hindi.
Speaking five languages has come in handy, as I have a lot of clients from different cultural backgrounds. I spend some time learning about my clients’ cultures, which is so easy to do nowadays, as we have so much information at our fingertips on the internet.
Just learning a few basic things can really boost their comfort level and improve the way we communicate. My advice to CPAs is that putting in just a little effort makes a big difference to a client. I will have a chat with them about their culture, and sometimes I invite clients to events at my Sikh temple in Brisbane.
I first met Manish in August 2012, not long after he had moved to Australia from India. I haven’t lived in India – my grandfather moved to Kenya from India in the 1920s. We also come from different parts of India – my ancestors are from Punjab and Manish is from Gujarat.
Nonetheless, I think he felt comfortable talking with me, as we have a shared Indian heritage. I’d say that 80 per cent of our conversation is in Hindi, and the rest is in English.
My first impressions of Manish were that he was polite and straightforward, with good communication skills. He was knowledgeable about doing business, as he had been running his own business in India.
He said that he was looking for an accountant to provide a business advisory role, and I remember that one of the first things he said to me was that he wanted his tax affairs to be correct and up to date. I made it clear to him that we do the right thing for our clients, and he said he was happy I had pointed that out.
Manish wanted to know about different business structures, tax laws and GST implications. He did a lot of research on the type of business he might run and ultimately decided on telecommunications. He started his business in 2013.
What Raj values about Manish
Manish gets in touch regularly to ask for advice. He doesn’t make tax-related decisions in his business without letting me know – even if it’s just a small thing, like the government announcing asset write-offs.
We’ll have a chat about the pros and cons. I was trying to think about where we differ as people, but I actually couldn’t think of anything because we always discuss our viewpoints and communicate really well – it’s like a partnership.
The client: Manish Trivedi
Self-employed at ISGM/Telstra telecommunications
My son was studying IT in Australia, and he said he really wanted to stay here, so I decided to sell my business in India and move to Australia. My wife was already here, too, and she told me that Raj was a really good accountant – he had also been her accountant.
I did some research, and Raj provided some input, and I decided to become a telecoms subcontractor.
My first impressions of Raj were that he was friendly and easy to talk to. It was all positive, in fact. I also appreciated that he was able to meet me after hours. I’m not an accountant, so there were many things I did not understand about doing business in Australia in the beginning.
Of course, I had run my spare parts business in India, but I wasn’t at all familiar with Australia’s taxation system. Raj was really good at explaining complicated things like GST.
What Manish values about Raj
Any time that I leave a message for him or send him a text with a question, he gets back to me quickly. He makes things simple for me to understand, and he always provides everything that I need ahead of time to provide to the Australian Government.
I also like it that we can speak in Hindi together, because it makes it easy for me to understand complex principles.