Welcome to Cooke & Foley

At Cooke & Foley, our primary focus is to provide a professional and honest business advisory, accounting and tax service to all our clients.

About You

If you're looking for a business adviser to help you build your business, speak to one of our pro-active team members today on (03) 5331 2600 or email info@cooke-foley.com.au

The best part of working with you is the relationship that we build together as we partner you on your business journey and beyond. You see your business as more than a job and appreciate the advice provided by our firm to improve the business and your personal wealth. You are responsive and ready to implement suggestions regarding the cashflow of the business or other aspects that are worrying you about your business. You want to ensure you and your family will be rewarded for all your hard work and sacrifices along your business journey.

We understand and guide you through all stages of your business journey and beyond, from startup and getting the right advice from the beginning regarding structure, maximizing the benefits of being in business along the way and then ensuring your eventual exit from the business is successful.

You realise that you require more than just a tax return to achieve all of your business and personal goals. You appreciate the challenge of setting and achieving a budget and annual target to improve your business processes and efficiencies. Together we will help you set and reach these targets and make sure you remain on track to reach your objectives.

About Cooke & Foley

We were founded in 1946 and have become one of the largest, most respected accounting firms in country Victoria. We are now a three director firm headed by Paul Foley, Kym Cassells and Nicole Crocker. We specialise in businesses and offer our clients a range of accounting, tax, business coaching and advisory services.

We are located in the heart of Ballarat in Western Victoria, however, the latest technology allows us to service clients in the local region as well as Melbourne, Country Victoria and Interstate. Our focus is not just on the traditional business accounting and taxation compliance services as we endeavour to deliver strategies to help our clients grow their business and accumulate personal wealth. We continue to adapt our service offerings to suit the needs of our clients.

Our experienced team have skills in a number of specialist areas including business advice, strategy and structure, self managed superannuation funds and negative gearing of property. Over the years we have also developed expertise in a number of varying industries including hospitality, farms, property development, the building trades and retailers industry just to name a few.

We are committed to the success of our business clients and are proud of our heritage. This is proven by our long-term relationship with our clients.

If you're looking for a business adviser to help you build your business, speak to one of our pro-active team members today on (03) 5331 2600.

Meet The Team

  • Paul Foley


  • Kym Cassells


  • Nicole Crocker


  • Peter Davis

    Senior Accountant

  • Chris Squire

    Senior Accountant

  • Jason Lowson

    Senior Accountant

  • Matthew Richardson

    Senior Accountant

  • Faye Sun


  • Zac White


  • Chris Taylor


  • Teagan Weightman

    Graduate Accountant

  • Susan Zakynthinos

    Production Manager

  • Jessica Dabraio

    Client Services Administrator

  • Billie Chibnall

    Client Services Administrator

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Client Case Studies

Delve further into specific examples of how Cooke & Foley has helped various clients.


Here you can view archive editions of our quarterly client newsletter titled 'On The Money'.

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Latest Accounting News

Read the latest from the Cooke & Foley news desk relating to the bookkeeping and accounting sector.
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Contact Us

We'd love to get in touch and we welcome any enquiry that you may have.

Get in Touch

Cooke & Foley welcome your enquiry. To book an appointment or simply ask us a question, fill in your details and we'll be in touch soon!

Office Location

  • 24B Doveton Street North, Ballarat VIC 3350

Mail Address

  • PO Box 673 Ballarat VIC 3353


Phone Number


Cooke & Foley are a huge contributor to the community and they regularly provide financial support/assistance to the following organisations:


Cooke & Foley are proud of the relationships we have with our clients as well as our culture, in which we encourage inclusiveness and professional development for all of our team members.
If Cooke & Foley sounds like the right place for you to begin or continue your career, please call us on (03) 5331 2600 or email your resume to info@cooke-foley.com.au.

Paul Foley


Paul followed in his father and many of his siblings’ footsteps to build a long, rewarding career at Cooke and Foley. He joined the firm on finishing university with his Bachelor of Business degree in hand. Over 30 years, Paul has progressed from becoming a Certified Practising Accountant to earning his Public Practice Certificate and a Registered Tax Agent. He became director in 2006.

Hospitality and farming are areas of special interest. Paul has solidified a client base across regional Victoria around these industries, with particular attention to budgeting and cashflow preparation. He finds most satisfaction in monitoring and interpreting KPIs to help businesses grow. As the role of accountants evolves, Paul said he aimed to assume a more advisory role with specific, strategic advice to achieve defined goals for clients. This ranges from tax minimisation, to succession planning and retirement.

Honesty, diligence and looking after people are at the core of his work ethic. Paul believes a loyal, long term client base speaks to the calibre of the firm and its work. His approach is to understand everything about a client’s business and circumstances to become their most trusted advisor.

Community involvement is another core belief. Paul played a key role in the redevelopment of the Ballarat Golf Club, helping it earn the 2011 Clubs Victoria Award for Best Club Redevelopment. He’s on the club board and perhaps unsurprisingly, is its Finance Director. His love of sport extends to basketball and a long involvement with the Ballarat Miners Basketball Club, including being a past Treasurer.

Personally, Paul enjoys spending time with his wife and three children and supporting their sporting interests. A keen golfer, he’ll happily spend a Saturday on the green, except when his other sporting love, Richmond, is playing.

Kym Cassells


Basketball and accountancy are two words that typically wouldn’t be paired in a word association test. For Cooke & Foley director Kym Cassells, the interplay between the sport and her working life has been a career constant.

Kym joined Cooke & Foley in 2000 while playing basketball in Ballarat and studying for a Bachelor of Commence. A former Cooke & Foley director also was part of the basketball community. Kym was working towards a professional career in sport when an injury pushed pause on that plan.

With her focus now on study, Kym completed her Certified Public Accountant qualification and learned the many facets of public practice accounting. She continued to gain experience, particularly in taxation accounting and business services. Ballarat born and bred, Kym honed her financial skills to become a director at Cooke & Foley in 2012. She has more than 15 years experience in superannuation, specialising in self managed super funds.

The hospitality and gaming industries are areas of special interest. With an intricate knowledge of Xero and other accounting packages, other professional strengths are cash flow and budgeting preparation and interpretation.

Kym holds a Public Practising Certificate and prides herself on liaising promptly with her clients. She gets particular satisfaction helping them set up processes so they can better manage their day- to-day operations. While most of her clients are small business owners in hospitality, farming and retail, Kym says an ideal client is one who sees the firm as a legitimate business partner.

A long-term, loyal client base is testament to Cooke and Foley’s core values of having client’s best interests at the forefront of all decisions. Client relationships are key and Kym believes their client’s loyalty confirms the company has gone beyond providing basic financial services.

Personally, Kym’s love and involvement in basketball hasn’t wavered. She’s being involved in the Ballarat Lady Miners (now the Ballarat Rush) for 16 years and continues to have an active involvement in the sport as treasurer of the Ballarat Basketball Association. Her dedication was honoured in 2014 when Kym was inducted into the Ballarat Basketball Hall of Fame.

Nicole Crocker


Nicole has been a director at Cooke and Foley since 2017. She’s spent most of her working life at the firm, moving to the firm at age 20 while still at university. Business and finance were always on her horizon. One grandfather was a bank manager; another and an uncle were both CPAs.

Typical clients are businesses owners in property development, civil construction, trades and retail. Her special interest skills include advanced knowledge in Xero and other accounting packages, as well as cashflow and budgeting preparation and interpretation. Nicole has particular strengths in the property development industry, including various GST and income tax issues.

Communication is at the centre of her customer service philosophy. That means being available to clients and investing time into building those relationships. Nicole said she gets particular satisfaction in being involved in the client’s business journey from start up to eventual sale, or retirement. And she takes great satisfaction mentoring younger team members.

Accountancy is about more than numbers. Nicole said she likes to look beyond the numbers, at the more analytical aspects of the work. With more than two decades experience at the firm, Nicole said she most enjoys the advisory side of the role, including annual planning to minimise income tax liabilities and the more complex advice regarding business structuring and effective exiting of a business. That passion was put to good use when a long-standing client decided it was time to sell. It was a two-year process where various strategies were devised to exit the business and minimise the tax impact. The service and analysis over that time ensured Nicole retained her existing client and earned a new one in the process.

Personally, Nicole enjoys spending time with family and the horse racing industry. She’s a part owner of a number of horses and has friends who are breeders. She’s now channelling that passion into developing a niche market for the racing industry.

Peter Davis

Senior Accountant

Dedicated to his role, and fastidious about his work, Peter undertakes diverse responsibilities as a Senior Accountant at Cooke & Foley, often one on one with a large range of clients.

Peter has the ability to convey complicated messages to his clients, ensuring they are comfortable in discussions, and guiding them through the complex matters of tax law. He describes Cooke & Foley as innovative, proactive, and interactive, encouraging clients to be receptive to new ideas and software advances.

Peter has been a member of the Cooke and Foley team since 2000, with many years prior experience across various industries as a finance professional. He holds an Advanced Diploma of Business (Accounting) from the University of Ballarat, and a Graduate Certificate in Professional Accounting from the University of New England.

Growing up in Camperdown and working throughout the Western district of Victoria, Peter has a genuine appreciation of rural and regional interests.

Outside of work, Peter is an enthusiastic cyclist. When not riding his bike, or tinkering with car restoration, you’ll likely find him enjoying motor car or bicycle racing.

Chris Squire

Senior Accountant

As a Senior Accountant, Chris primarily handles Tax Planning and Compliance for the Larger Clients and Self-Managed Super Funds within Cooke and Foley.

Chris has a strong belief in ethics, and values respectful, trusting and responsive client relationships. He thoroughly enjoys the problem-solving aspect of his career, and finds great satisfaction providing clients with advice that will improve their business.

Awarded Dux in Accounting and Economics as a secondary student, Chris proved destined for this industry. He went on to gain a degree in Applied Economics & Finance from the University of Ballarat, and is now a confident CPA with Xero certification. Chris has been a full-time member of the Cooke and Foley team since 2008.

A life-long resident of Ballarat, Chris enjoys all sports. Outside of his financial career he has held a number of roles within the Ballarat Basketball Association. Chris is also a bit of a history buff. He enjoys watching documentaries, and spending time with family and friends.

Jason Lowson

Senior Accountant

Supporting Individuals and Businesses with general accounting advice and providing specialist Self-Managed Super Funds advice are Jason’s principal responsibilities as a Senior Accountant with Cooke and Foley.

Conscientious and approachable, Jason’s working philosophy is based on mutual respect, and building trusting relationships. He values communication, the importance of gathering appropriate information, and working with clients to achieve positive outcomes. Jason truly appreciates Cooke and Foley’s long-standing reputation as a caring, community-focused business.

Prior to joining the team at Cooke and Foley in 2015, Jason had gained 8 years valuable experience working with both a national and local Ballarat accounting firm. Previous to that Jason spent some 15 years working within the banking and finance industry. An accredited SMSF Specialist Advisor™ and fully Xero certified, Jason completed his Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of Ballarat in 2007.

Jason was born in England, but spent most of his growing-up years in the north-west of Western Australia. He has called Ballarat home since moving here in 2003.

When he’s not spending time with family and friends, watching sport, or contemplating his next travel adventure, Jason simply enjoys time at home cooking.

Matthew Richardson

Senior Accountant

Matthew joined Cooke and Foley in 2019 as a Senior Accountant, with over ten years’ experience in the industry.

Knowing the importance of being a trusted advisor, being approachable, and of building quality professional relationships with his clients, is very much in keeping with Cooke & Foley’s direct focus on the quality of work being undertaken for each of its clients.

As a Chartered Accountant, holding a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting & Law), Matthews’ knowledge and interpersonal skills enable him to assist a broad range of clients to achieve their desired results.

Matthew has the ability to talk and correspond with people, in a style that is effective and efficient. He firmly believes the client comes first and that his priority is to act for them in whatever capacity required. He is motivated to assist businesses in their quest to thrive and become more profitable. A more wholistic approach to caring for clients, he believes, is essential with the emergence of new technologies and automation in the financial industry.

A Ballarat local, Matthew is an accomplished musician, having played professionally as a band guitarist and lead vocalist, performing at numerous events and venues.

Faye Sun


As a qualified CPA, Faye supports Individuals and Businesses with general taxation and bookkeeping services. Having worked herself for a number of years in the Hospitality industry, she has an intimate understanding of the inherent nature of small business. Faye is also fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese.

Faye has been with Cooke and Foley since 2015. She was awarded her Master of Professional Accounting at the University of Ballarat in 2014, after completing a Master of Finance at the University of Melbourne, and graduating from the Bachelor of Commerce at Curtin University.

Faye believes in helping her clients to properly understand their financial situation. Confident and hardworking, her guiding philosophy is, no business too small, no problem too big.

Approaching her work with persistence and patience, Faye prides herself on her ability to ‘think outside the box’ when approaching a problem.

Faye moved from China in 2008, and now calls Ballarat home. When not working you’ll likely find her engaged in her favourite mindfulness activities, drawing and practising Chinese calligraphy.

Zac White


An enthusiastic and confident member of the team, Zac is primarily focused on Taxation and Business Advisory Services, thriving on the job’s variety and challenges.

Zac joined Cooke and Foley in 2017 the same year he completed a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting, at Federation University. He thoroughly enjoys his work environment, and values the diversity and experience of his colleagues.

Zac appreciates Cooke and Foley’s engagement with the latest technology and accounting software, and their commitment to training, which ensures the staff are ready to meet the constant challenges of the profession.

Before settling on a career in finance, Zac tried his hand at building, and has also worked as a sign writer for six years.

Friendly and energetic, Zac enjoys socialising with family and friends. He has a love of basketball, and has played in various representative teams. He has also captained the Gordon Football Club reserves, where he continues to play.

Matthew Dwyer


Working across a broad range of industries, Matthew is focused primarily on Taxation and Compliance. Well respected and hardworking, he enjoys meeting the challenges of his role, acknowledging the importance of emerging technology, and data analysis in the industry.

Matthew joined the Cooke & Foley team in 2014 while studying a Bachelor of Business in Professional Accountancy at RMIT University, graduating in 2018.

Doing more for clients than simply compliance & tax work is something Matthew admires about Cooke and Foley, taking the time to truly explain to clients the processes and outcomes involved.

A Ballarat local, Matthew has a keen interest in watching most sports, mainly football and cricket. Though no longer playing, he is involved as treasurer, at the Newlyn Football Netball Club. He also has shares in a couple of racehorses.

Teagan Weightman

Graduate Accountant

Teagan, a recent addition to our accounting team, has been with Cooke and Foley since 2011, having previously worked as a Client Services Administrator. During this time, she was working toward her second degree, a Bachelor of Accounting.

Teagan works primarily with well-established clients across a number of industries. She enjoys the inherent challenges of her role, helping clients improve the running of their businesses, to achieve best possible outcomes. She genuinely feels that her success stems from her client’s success.

Hard working, reliable, and a keen observer, Teagan is proud to be part of Cooke and Foley’s long-established history, enjoying the strong and supportive team environment. She acknowledges that the trust and rapport fostered through relationships, is of great value to clients.

A life-long resident of Ballarat, Teagan loves to read a good mystery, taking walks, and spending time with her family.

Susan Zakynthinos

Production Manager

With over 30 years of experience working at Cooke and Foley, Susan has not only helped to shape the culture, but in many ways has been the welcoming face of the business. Susan’s wealth of experience serves her well in her role as Production Manager.

Friendly, helpful, reliable, and caring, are apt descriptions of Susan, qualities that complement the hardworking and competent approach she brings to her role. Susan’s primary responsibility is managing the flow of work through the office, and providing payroll services to clients.

Susan has contact with many of Cooke and Foley’s clients. She is proud of the excellent service, family-focused nature of the business, and its progressive attitude within the industry.

In recent times, having raised her family in Ballarat, where she has lived her life, Susan has taken to experiencing new countries and cultures through her travel adventures.

Jessica Dabraio

Client Services Administrator

Since joining us in 2006, Jessica has been responsible for ensuring our wonderful team gets the support they need, with numerous administration tasks, maintaining client software, and handling customer enquiries.

She approaches her role with a strong sense of loyalty, care, and personal investment, genuinely concerned with the successful and smooth running of Cooke and Foley and the high level of service provided to clients.

Trustworthiness, reliability, and accountability are among the qualities she values as a member of the team.

Away from work, Jessica loves all things outdoors, particularly when it involves her family. Given the opportunity, she’d love to enjoy a minimalist lifestyle in a ‘Tiny House’.

Billie Chibnall

Client Service Administrator

Billie is one of the friendly faces that greet our clients. She provides assistance and support in the office, and extends that friendly service over the phone. Interacting with and connecting clients to the rest of the team, is what she most enjoys.

It is the strong team environment and friendly, professional interaction, that motivates Billie to contribute prompt and efficient service, in a conscientious and customer-oriented manner.

Recently joining Cooke and Foley, Billie brings with her several years’ administration and legal secretarial experience.

Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her family, especially baking cakes and sewing with her daughter.

Chris Taylor


Chris is a qualified CPA with expert knowledge in superannuation, particularly in the areas of compliance and auditing. A passion for his work, and a sound understanding of relevant issues, enables him to assist his clients on their journey toward success and an improved lifestyle.

Chris, who joined the Cooke and Foley team in 2020, came to us from Melbourne, where he worked in financial services for a number of years. In 2015, he completed his Bachelor of Business degree in Accounting at Latrobe University. Chris also holds an Advanced Diploma in Hospitality, gained while working within the industry.

Away from the office, Chris is an avid cyclist, and is a member of Cycling Australia. He is also known to enjoy a round or two of golf.

A community-minded individual, Chris is an active and dedicated member of the CFA, who fought the recent devastating East Gippsland fires.


Overseeing staff and ensuring your day to day operations are running smoothly is a timeconsuming task; the last thing you may want to deal with is financial paper work and tax.

Cooke & Foley can help you efficiently manage your accounting, bookkeeping and taxation requirements, while also providing you with advice and strategies to help effectively grow your business. This can give you more time to focus on what’s important to you, such as handling tasks on your farm and enjoying life outside of work.

We understand that farmers require effective management of their farming operations and we endeavour to provide all of our farming clients with effective advice, strategies and services.

Time is money—we understand. Cooke & Foley has the expertise and industry experience to help you efficiently, effectively and quickly manage your accounts, all while helping you save money and reduce tax.

We can help you with:

No matter the size of your farm, our team at Cooke & Foley have the expertise to help you with all of your tax, accounting, GST and business advice needs.

Rest assured we take your business performance personally, so contact us today (03) 5331 2600 or email us at info@cooke-foley.com.au so we can help you gain that competitive advantage.

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Hospitality is one of the most challenging yet one of the most rewarding industries to be involved in and Cooke & Foley recognize the importance of being able to assist our clients to seize opportunities and obtain a competitive advantage.

We understand firsthand how COVID19 has impacted on all hospitality venues with no one untouched. It is the one business industry that has suffered the most severe revenue hit during this period causing potential long term damage for owners. Cooke & Foley’s belief that proactive and strict cashflow modelling and budgeting during period is the No.1 task that business owners should be focussing their energies during times of forced trading restrictions. Contact us now on 53 312 600 and we will come to see you to conduct a complimentary on-site visit to talk and understand the challenges your business faces and we will provide you with some strategies to help you through this period.

Cooke & Foley has forged its reputation as a market leader in providing business advisory services to the Hospitality industry since 1950’s. It is our wealth of experience that allows our advisors to be able to recognize the challenges within the market and provide consistent quality outcomes for our clients.

Whilst the compliance and taxation aspect are important, it is Cooke & Foley’s ability to provide efficient yet detailed KPI’s and interpretation which allows our clients to make ‘real time’ quality business decisions.

Your Hospitality business whether it be a Hotel, Motel, Restaurant or Cafe needs to be able to adapt as it develops and is confronted with new challenges, Cooke & Foley provides guidance in:

Our industry experience allows you to be confident that we will provide you with the guidance you need while you focus on what you do best, providing customer satisfaction.

Rest assured we take your business performance personally, so contact us today (03) 5331 2600 or email us at info@cooke-foley.com.au so we can help you gain that competitive advantage.

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Horse Industry

Cooke & Foley has an intimate understanding of the thoroughbred and harness racing and breeding industries that can put your business in the box seat. We know what is involved in a successful horse racing and breeding business. Whether it be management of compliance matters, tax planning, business planning, bookkeeping, or appropriate business structures. Cooke & Foley can help you with all your accounting and management needs.

The services we offer to help make your business a success include:

Cooke & Foley provide the specialist expertise required to ensure the success of your business in the racing industry.

Rest assured we take your business performance personally, so contact us today (03) 5331 2600 or email us at info@cooke-foley.com.au so we can help you gain that competitive advantage.

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Many of Australia’s best and most successful businesses are privately owned but such ownership comes with its own unique needs and challenges. Cooke & Foley has many years experience working in this area and understands the unique challenges facing owners of family businesses.

While family businesses face the normal ups and downs of business life there is always the added complexity of family relationships that can make business decisions more difficult. At Cooke & Foley we are able to manage all businesses aspects of such ventures due to our long experience working with family businesses. Families can have a unique set of dynamics and we can work with family businesses to address issues such as:

We pride ourselves on the strength of the relationships we build with our clients and the depth of knowledge and understanding we develop over time. Nowhere is this more important than with our family business clients.

Rest assured we take your business performance personally, so contact us today (03) 5331 2600 or email us at info@cooke-foley.com.au so we can help you gain that competitive advantage.

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Financial Planning

Through our longstanding relationship with Foley Wilson & Co, we are able to provide our clients with holistic financial services under the one roof.

Foley Wilson & Co has been providing investment and advisory services in Ballarat and the Western District of Victoria since 1956 and offer a comprehensive range of financial services and advice.

The financial advice experience is more than just being provided with guidance around facts, figures, strategy and legislation. Foley Wilson & Co pride themselves on building long-term honest relationships with clients, which is an essential element in conquering financial goals and objectives.

For investment advice, superannuation & retirement planning , please don’t hesitate to contact us today (03) 5331 2600.

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Mortgage Broking

Cooke and Foley see a synergy between managing our clients accounting needs and ensuring that their lending is structured appropriately. As such we have partnered with Juno Lending and Finance to be able to look after our clients lending needs under the one roof.

Juno Lending & Finance was born out of a desire to take the time to understand our client’s personal situation, in order to guide them through the lending process. By taking this approach, we ensure that our clients’ loans are structured in a way that best suits their individual needs.

The Director, Nathanial Campbell, has worked with one of the major banks for 15 years. Throughout this time, he has spent several years as a home lending specialist, then more recently managing a broad range of commercial clients servicing all of their lending needs. This experience has given him an in-depth knowledge of what is required to seamlessly progress a loan from application to approval.

Juno Lending & Finance can assist you with all of your lending needs including, but not limited to:
• Home loans (including purchases, re-financing and First Home Buyers)
• Residential investment loans
• Residential construction loans
• Commercial property finance
• Commercial working capital solutions
• Property development finance
• Self-managed super fund lending
• Motor Vehicle and Equipment finance
• Debt consolidation
• Agricultural finance solutions

Our goal is to find the right lending solution for you, whilst taking the stress out of the process. If you are thinking about purchasing, need advice on the lending process or wish to discuss your current lending, please don’t hesitate to contact us how we can work together: (03) 5331 2600 or email us at info@cooke-foley.com.au

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Family Hotel Business Looks to a Bright Future

Generational change provides confidence and aligns stakeholders.

A multi-generation business

The Spotted Dog Hotel, along with the subsequently established Grand Central Motel, has been owned by the same family for over 50 years. The business has quietly gone from strength to strength, with various members of the family engaged in specific aspects of its operations over time. Recently, the current directors engaged our assistance to undertake some vital succession planning and oversee management change.

Prudently, it was decided to pass control on from the family patriarch to "willing hands" available amongst younger members of the family. At the same time, it was necessary to accommodate an increasingly diverse group of family members, the majority of whom is not working in the business but nevertheless dependent to varying degrees upon the income stream being generated.

At Cooke & Foley, we have always had a strong clientele in hospitality and accommodation businesses, with particularly strong representation across Victoria. We're proud to say that we have been accountants and business advisers to this particular family throughout its hospitality journey. This has entailed working closely with the Directors throughout the many challenges that have arisen over the years.

This latest round of generational change was one of those times.

Although the various stakeholders have different objectives, we were able to secure everyone's agreement that the business has come too far to have its asset value curtailed. Collectively it has been agreed that the family should stick together, so as best to reap the benefits from what has gone before.

Changing of the guard

Undertaking a thorough estate planning project for the senior Director-Manager was central to the assignment. This entailed not just creating a fresh personal Will but putting in place power of attorney arrangements, together with an advanced medical directive so that all possible contingencies were covered.

Then, with that in place we oversaw the appointment of fresh directors to the overall holding entity.

For the family members running the business it was important that the changes not simply "defend and retain" what had been accumulated but allow for further business expansion. In summary, the intention is to grow by acquisition. This will entail astutely evaluating opportunities as they arrive and taking on those where it makes good commercial sense to do so. Particularly important for these active stakeholders was not to overly compromise working capital by virtue of the dividends paid to make the arms length shareholders happy. Further, whilst accepting the need to keep the shareholders informed, the managers nevertheless wanted to have the freedom to run the business as they deemed appropriate.

At the same time, other family shareholders needed to know the extent to which they could count on the dividends continuing into the future.

Our approach throughout this assignment has been to facilitate an amicable evolution, keeping the stakeholders advised and blending their varying objectives into a satisfactory overall outcome.

From a business perspective, Cooke & Foley has stepped up to now be providing monthly reports for each of the different businesses in the Group. This has been combined with more rigour around the business managers reporting to the Board of Directors. In turn, the Board has now been rejuvenated with the addition of some different family members and an independent director who is bringing a wealth of business acumen gathered from outside the family.

Looking ahead with confidence

From our perspective, it's been great to steer the family and business through what might otherwise have been a challenging time.

We are particularly pleased to strike a balance between the working family members who are keen to expand the business and the more remote members who have an understandable interest in the steady flow of dividends continuing.

Paul Foley has been the Cooke and Foley Director overseeing the restructure. "The measures we have put in place will help this family avoid the all too frequent norm of 'Rags to riches and back again in three generations'. With the changes that have been implemented, the business is well set for another generation to build upon what has gone before." said Paul.

Paul has conducted this assignment by gently facilitating and educating, whilst steadily introducing sound commercial practices. Reflecting the care and concern befitting Cooke & Foley's long-standing association with its clients, Paul has been at pains to keep everyone informed throughout proceedings.

Further, Paul's cash flow projections for the entities have assured stakeholders with respect to future income stream. At the same time, his input on working capital and funds for business expansion have provided useful parameters regarding the size and scale of acquisitions the Group can sensibly undertake.

The last word

The incoming managing director is John Smith, grandson of Andrew Smith who was the founder of the business. We will conclude this case study with this quote from John –

"At the outset, I was somewhat concerned that the business would be forced to remain with the status quo. However, with the changes that have been agreed and introduced there is now a solid foundation upon which we can embark upon other opportunities. I'm excited by what the future holds."

Accountant Sets Roadmap for Travel Agents

Andrew and Carly Brown had both worked in the travel industry for the majority of their working careers. They had always dreamed of operating their own business within the industry using their vast experience in organizing their client’s dream holiday. They decided the time had come to make the giant leap, and whilst they were confident in their skills of organising a client’s travel experience of a lifetime, they had never operated their own independent business or built a business from the ground up.

The Plan

They approached Nicole Crocker, one of the Directors at Cooke & Foley, to advise them on the business decisions that needed to be made. Nicole’s discussions with Andrew and Carly ensured that they identified their priorities for commencing and operating business. The goals of the business owners often dictate the correct structure in which to operate the business. This not only relates to the set-up of the business, but also the ongoing operation of the business and eventually exit from the business.

Nicole’s discussions with the client identified their priorities of the business venture which included setup process and structure, asset protection, tax impact of differing structures and the return of profits to the owners in addition to wages. They were advised of the possible risks with starting their own business and ways in which a business can be structured to ensure that their personal assets were protected.

Nicole considered their priorities and provided structure advice and the respective pros and cons of each structure. She also applied the benefits and disadvantages of each entity structure she suggested to Andrew and Carly’s specific circumstances to show the actual impact to the client in line with their desired priorities. Andrew and Carly were grateful for Nicole's advice concerning their dream business and were able to make an informed decision as to the optimal business structure.

The Journey

Nicole has also been able to provide continual guidance regarding record keeping systems, tax minimisation strategies and payroll support. Annual cashflow reports and budgets are also prepared to provide a target to ensure Andrew and Carly meet both their financial and personal goals from the business. Nicole continually monitors their results and provides feedback as to how the business is operating. This has meant that Andrew and Carly can focus on growing the business to meet their business and lifestyle goals.

The COVID19 pandemic of 2020 has caused great interruption to Andrew and Carly’s business within the travel industry. It has been a relief to Andrew and Carly to know that Nicole has been on hand to provide support to them through the preparation and lodgement of various grant and support program relief packages. She has also encouraged Andrew and Carly to use the down time to make their business better and ensure that when operations commence again, their business is in a position to hit the ground running, with all the planning for future projects already undertaken. This has included a rebrand of the business and assessment of business and personal goals resulting in a re-alignment of the services to be offered to customers for these goals to be achieved.

The relationship we have built with Nicole has been invaluable to ourselves and our business. We appreciate her advice in ensuring we set the business up correctly from the start and she is always available to answer any queries we have or problems we encounter. Her advice has allowed us to concentrate on growing our business, knowing that she is constantly monitoring the financial aspects of the operations. This has given us the confidence to build a business that allows us to fulfil our lifestyle dreams.” said Andrew

Keeping it in the Family

The Issue

Tom and Anne Black ran a successful cleaning contract business and had built the business from scratch over 30 years. Together they worked both within the business in the early days and then moved to a management role in the later years. Over the years they had secured many large cleaning contracts across the region and had a great relationship with their long-term customers. John, their son had also set up a business in the same industry, although on a smaller scale to Tom and Anne.

Tom and Anne were aging, and the decision needed to be made as to whether they sold their business to a third party or brought in John to manage the business. The decision regarding the succession of the business was made more urgent when Tom faced several health issues.

Tom’s relationships with the contract businesses were vital and there was a real threat of the loss of these contracts due to the inability to service these customers. The management of these contracts, as well as the ongoing monitoring and analysis of the financial information was a key to the ongoing success of the business.

Kym Cassells, a Director of Cooke & Foley, had worked closely with Tom and Anne over the years, advising them regarding the business and monitoring its success. Kym was asked to chair the family meetings to discuss the potential transfer of management from Tom and Anne to their son and daughter-in-law, John and Rebecca. Being highly experienced in working with small business proprietors, Kym assisted in the negotiation of the transfer of management of the business. Kym also managed the business side of the succession whilst also being mindful of the family relationships involved.

Kym assisted John in all financial aspects so that John didn’t have to worry about this side of the business, rather just allowing him to focus on understanding the business in the early days and then looking to grow the business. Kym prepared various cashflow projections to indicate the potential growth available to the business. Initially a sale of the business was an option however Kym provided scenario planning reports that showed that the quick dollars obtained from the sale of the business were outweighed by the future continued profits to be received from retaining the business.

Clean Books lead to Tidy Profits

Five years later, John and Rebecca are the managers of a successful business, with Tom acting in a mentor role and Kym advising in the business role. The reduction of the stress for Tom of managing the business, has allowed him to improve his health significantly. Kym prepares annual cashflows and budgets and meets quarterly with John and Rebecca to provide monitoring and analysis advice. She has also played a key role in the employment of administration/bookkeeping staff with a view to provide management with additional support and allow John to step back from the daily tasks so that he can continue to foster his relationships with his clients and in turn grow the business.

With Kym’s help for the business advice, and Tom’s relationship with the customers, John and Rebecca are enjoying the benefits of a business that has far exceeded the original budgeted results. The control of the business has been amicably transitioned from one generation to the next, whilst keeping the family values and relationships remain intact. The decision that John and Rebecca made to maintain the business rather than an option of selling it has resulted in them receiving a stable income and with the quarterly advice received from Kym has allowed them to substantially grow the business.

“Without Kym’s on-going monitoring and advice, we wouldn’t have had the success that we have. Having quarterly updates with Kym allows us to see the growth of the business and be able to address any issues as they arise not 12 months later – this allows us to continually make changes where necessary. She is always available for advice and is an important part of our success and future.” said John.


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