Not your typical chartered accountant
The words ‘passion’ and ‘accounting’ are not usually associated, but this young entrepreneur is bridging the gap
Anri Maré is not your typical chartered accountant (CA). She’s young, bubbly and doesn’t own a grey suit. She also took the plunge and started her own business. Here’s her story:
What is Femto Financial Services?
It’s my own book-keeping firm.
What services fall under book-keeping?
Basically, it’s making sure that the books of an individual or legal entity [company] are up to date and that all their affairs comply with the SA Revenue Service [Sars].
How long have you been running your own company?
Femto is three years old this year. I started the business after I’d done my articles.
What are your qualifications?
I am very proud to be able to say finally that I am a chartered accountant.
Getting this qualification wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever tackled. It took many hours of hard work, tears and rewriting exams before I could put this title after my name.
What are the requirements for the qualification?
I first had to read for a BCom degree with accounting, and then an honours in accounting.
The honours was a bit of a headache. And I switched from full-time studying to distance learning and then started serving my compulsory three years of articles in the meantime. I did my articles at a medium-sized auditing firm.
After the honours, there are also two board exams to be written.
The four big auditing firms snap up hundreds of students for articles every year. Why did you choose
a smaller firm for your articles?
When I was a student, I worked for some pocket money for a CA who had his own book-keeping firm.
I immediately liked the kind of work that I did at this book-keeping firm, and knew that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
I did some research and found out where I would get the best experience in the field during my articles. The big auditing firms focus mainly on auditing, and their exposure to accounting, tax and consultation is limited. A smaller auditing firm with smaller clients was therefore my answer.
You are such a bubbly person – a very different picture from the stereotypical accountant. How does this work suit you?
I love organising and administration, and that is exactly what book-keeping is.
My firm has now grown so much, I’m actually very seldom behind the computer making calculations and journal entries.
I spend a lot of time in consultations with clients and also have a small team working under me. My career has really turned out to be very social.
Where did you find Femto’s first clients?
During my articles, I did book-keeping for one of the auditing firm’s clients. The client was so pleased with my service that he refused to lose me when I finished my articles.
The client wasn’t big enough to keep me occupied all day. I basically started Femto with two clients. At first, things were a bit shaky, but after a few months, everything was going well and today I have about 35 monthly clients.
How do you market your business?
I’ve never really done any marketing. All my clients so far have been referred. I don’t want to just take anyone off the street as a client. I want to do things the right way.
What do you mean?
There are a lot of odd characters out there trying to do [Sars] in wherever they can. That’s not for me.
You started your business at a young age. Where do you go for advice?
I have a network of people working in the same field. I’m not afraid of picking up the phone and asking for advice.
Why did you move your office from home to an office building?
Now I can leave my computer on my desk, lock up and drive home. If I’m away from the computer, I can’t work. It’s just better for my family.
What is the best part of your job?
I am my own boss, decide on my own working hours and can grow my business the way I want.
What is the worst part of your job?
I’m so mad about my work that after work I find it difficult to switch off completely.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt?
Not to set unrealistic deadlines and goals for myself and the business. That puts you under tremendous pressure.
BUBBLY BOSS Anri Maré, the owner of book-keeping firm Femto Financial Services