John Cur­ley: From agri­cul­ture to ac­count­ing

For­mer Syd­neysider John Cur­ley made a tree change then a tem­po­rary seachange, chang­ing ca­reers along the way. He now re­sides in Dubbo with his cel­e­brant wife Sue. AS TOLD TO Natalie Holmes

Dubbo Photo News - - What I Do Know -

I was born and raised in Syd­ney.

My fa­ther was an ex-dairy farmer who ended up in Syd­ney by ac­ci­dent. I spent a lot of hol­i­days work­ing on a farm in Goul­burn which was owned by close friends. They had fine wool sheep, cat­tle and did con­tract hay­mak­ing. By the time I was 12, I would travel all over the coun­try­side driv­ing an old TEA20 trac­tor with mower at­tached to cut hay. I re­ally en­joyed it. I lived in sub­ur­bia in Syd­ney, but back then, they were half acre blocks with no fences.

We would roam around and ev­ery­thing was fine.

It was com­pletely dif­fer­ent by the time I had grown up. They are now all ¼ acre blocks with six foot high fences. I went to school at Stan­more in the city. I was a day boy and would spend an hour each way on the train to get there and back. I used to read a lot. I al­ways did well at school.

Lov­ing live­stock, I thought vet­eri­nary sci­ence would be a good ca­reer. I at­tended Syd­ney Univer­sity but af­ter a year which in­cluded carv­ing up grey­hounds to study anatomy, I de­cided it was not for me.

My fa­ther found me a job as a jacka­roo

near War­ren on Gun­ning­bar, a 20,000 acre wheat and sheep farm with ir­ri­ga­tion.

Their 2000 acres was wa­tered from Aus­cott’s tail water. I en­joyed be­ing out­doors and I learned lots of new things. I did that for a while and then the place I was on went bank­rupt. My dad de­cided to re­tire at Welling­ton. It was a smallscale farm on the Bell River with sheep, cat­tle and ir­ri­gated lucerne hay.

Un­for­tu­nately, he died soon af­ter. I worked there for 15 or 16 years.

I suf­fered a repet­i­tive strain in­jury from throw­ing hay bales.

It got worse and started to change my life. The spe­cial­ist ended up telling me ‘keep do­ing what you’re do­ing on the farm and you’ll end up in a wheelchair.’

I knew he was only do­ing it to scare me but I had to re­assess my whole lifestyle. I leased out the farm and even­tu­ally sold it.

That’s when the lightbulb popped. For­tu­itously my accountant asked me to come and work for him.

So I started univer­sity again through dis­tance ed­u­ca­tion. How­ever in­stead of work­ing, my wife and I bought a yacht and sailed for a cou­ple of years, end­ing up at Lizard Island.

That’s the other thing I did was sail.

It was my child­hood pas­time and I was sail­ing when I was four in Manly Ju­niors. Sue and I had dif­fer­ent ideas about sail­ing though. When I thought it was re­ally ex­cit­ing, she thought it was ter­ri­fy­ing. Sail­ing is such fun - It can be ex­cit­ing, it can be scary, it can feel in­cred­i­bly peace­ful. I re­mem­ber some rare nights sail­ing through phos­pho­res­cence and the trail we would leave be­hind looked like mil­lions of stars in the water.

I did half my ac­count­ing de­gree on the boat.

But I only had a dig­i­tal phone and not ana­logue so if I needed to talk to some­one such as a tu­tor, I of­ten had to go 50 feet up the mast to get re­cep­tion.

I did my de­gree through UNE and they were re­ally good about send­ing ma­te­ri­als to dif­fer­ent places where we stopped.

They went to a lot of trou­ble. When my accountant rang and said he re­ally needed me, I de­cided it was time. I had done a bit of fi­nan­cial plan­ning and I was al­ways keen on in­vest­ing money. I fin­ished my de­gree and did my pro­fes­sional year and be­came a char­tered accountant. Then I did a Mas­ters in Tax be­cause I en­joyed the law side of tax.

I worked with my friend Kevin Rankmore at Ryan and Rankmore for a cou­ple of years in 1997.

He was fan­tas­tic and very sup­port­ive. He’s a good friend.

Run­ning my own business made sense, I’m good at de­ci­sion-mak­ing. I had the farm ex­pe­ri­ence and I now deal with a lot of ru­ral clients. My ru­ral back­ground helps and you know what they’re talk­ing about and what they want to achieve.

One of the things I love about ac­count­ing is fee for ser­vice – un­like the for­mer com­mis­sion model of fi­nan­cial plan­ners.

And I love help­ing peo­ple. I do en­joy the whole va­ri­ety of business. I also have a pas­sion for small business. The va­ri­ety of work is what l love about pub­lic ac­coun­tancy.

Lately, I’ve fallen in love with tech­nol­ogy which sur­prised ev­ery­one.

I even taught my­self to type. Tech­nol­ogy sim­pli­fies so many things. When I started, we only had one com­puter be­tween four of us and there was a per­son do­ing our data en­try op­er­a­tion. Since then, there’s been the ad­vance of mo­bile phones and so many changes in com­puter tech­nol­ogy. Now our whole sys­tem is on the cloud.

We never have to worry be­cause they back it up on servers based around the world.

I be­lieve it is also far more se­cure. Hav­ing real time data also help you make sen­si­ble business de­ci­sions. I love Xero and it has be­come our main ac­count­ing plat­form for both fi­nan­cial re­port­ing and tax. We also use BGL and Box in our business.

The prac­tice I run now was started by Gareth Pea­cocke.

There were three Pea­cocke broth­ers in Dubbo. The other two, Gerry and Peter were solic­i­tors. Gerry went on to be a politi­cian and was the lo­cal MP. Af­ter work­ing with my friend Kevin for nearly three years I de­cided it was time to be­come a business owner again.

Kevin tried to find a firm to buy to go into part­ner­ship.

He in­tro­duced me to Gareth who had been think­ing about re­tire­ment. Two years ago Pea­cocke Ac­coun­tants split over the fu­ture of ac­count­ing. We split be­cause I be­lieved we should em­brace tech­no­log­i­cal change.

I be­lieve that where in­ter­net is suit­able, the cloud was the fu­ture.

I’m even more firmly com­mit­ted to that now. We no longer need a server and we don’t have any com­pli­ca­tions. I’d like to grow the business some more and wel­come more clients.

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