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From Ledgers to Laptops – 125 Years and Counting

11 October 2021 | Featured
Kennas Client Resources

If Joseph Kenna could walk into the bright, busy Kennas’ premises today, 125 years after he first launched his accounting firm, we think he’d be proud (after he picked himself up from the floor!)

Not only has the business served its clients continuously but has grown to offer the full depth and breadth of financial services needed by Central Queenslanders today. Perhaps more importantly, the Partners and staff through the years have worked to preserve Kennas’ unblemished reputation by upholding and promoting the same values of integrity, hard work and honesty first instituted by Joseph Kenna.

Jeff Carlos, Partner from 1987 to 2019, summed it up,

“It was the way Kennas chose to do business from the outset that has stood them in good stead. The key word from Kennas to their clients was trust.”

What was happening in 1896

In 1896, Rockhampton was a bustling export hub for gold, wool and grain and the city was growing steadily. Australian States were deliberating the pros and cons of Federation. The East Street Post Office was very new, and many other imposing buildings were under construction. Further afield, Marconi had just invented the wireless telegraph, the Yukon Gold Rush was underway, the first modern Olympic games were held in Athens – and the first Dow Jones Industrial Average was published.

Adapting through the years

Over the span of time, the business has seen every type of economic boom and bust come and go, and has had to adjust, reposition and grow to meet every challenge. Economic crashes, the Great Depression and the far-reaching effects on the economy of two World Wars, and other conflicts like the Boer War and Vietnam War brought their fair share of hardships to CQ. Kennas staff worked tirelessly to support businesses and families through changing circumstances and increasingly demanding financial regulations.

The tax system was (and is) a changing landscape. From death duties through to the introduction of personal income tax, GST and superannuation, Kennas have dealt with every possible scenario, while working to support the financial success of their clients. Partner Dunn Richards saw many massive changes in his 29 years at Kennas. He famously said,

“Tax is never an issue unless you are profitable, so spend your time working out how to make money, not save tax.”

The demand for business advice, strategic planning services and financial planning grew exponentially from the introduction of superannuation. Kennas researched, then launched a whole new business, Kennas Financial Services Pty Ltd in 1987 to meet clients’ needs, and went on to secure an independent Dealers Security Licence in 1992. This allowed the firm to provide expert advice covering superannuation and retirement and estate planning.

Kennas’ greatest assets – our people

From just Joseph Kenna and two office staff, today the complement is 35, with six partners and 18 professional staff, supported by 11 administration staff. Over time, we’ve seen continuous service by three generations (thanks to the Buntain family), marriages, children following in the career footsteps of their parents at Kennas, and many staff whose years of service roll into decades and whole careers.

Our people have a great track record of contributing to society – we could tell many stories of leadership in sports clubs, community organisations, charities, school boards and even politics over the last century. In the early days, Kennas was closely involved in government submissions and policy discussions and had a say in several important decisions that shaped the Queensland economy.

Servicing clients far and wide

Over time, Kennas opened branch offices in Longreach, Biloela, Moura, Emerald, Brisbane and Yeppoon. These offices serviced rural and industrial clients before electronic communications enabled virtual face-to-face services.

Many clients have been with Kennas for generations. Apart from pastoralists and landowners, industrial clients have included Mount Morgan Limited (for almost its whole life), Sapphire Mining at Anakie and Emerald, CQ Cement & Lime, Denham Bros., James Stewart & Co., CQ Salt and many more.

Each one brought their own peculiarities for accounting. At CQ Salt, auditing was tricky – how do you count the amount of salt that is spread over enormous areas of a salt pan in huge mounds? Kennas devised a way that satisfied the authorities – and we continue to provide customised solutions to every client’s accounting and tax requirements.

Riding the wave of technology

Kennas was built with inkwells, fountain pens, heavy ledgers, and face to face visits. But the firm quickly established a name for being early adopters of technology to save time and cut costs. Punch cards were the forerunners of today’s data processing and Kennas were one of the first accounting firms in Australia to acquire a computer in 1969.

The Partners in the 70’s and 80’s and on into the 2000s continued to invest in proven technology. Today Kennas are Platinum Partners of Xero, offering the latest in accounting software. Clients can be assured that the latest innovations in cybersecurity and cloud computing are accessible and well-supported.

Current Partner Brent Giles forecasts how technology will change the day to day business of accounting and financial planning, noting,

“The role of the financial planner will become more about coaching and mentoring the client, and providing those clients with a sounding board to help them achieve their goals, as opposed to specific investments or products.”

In 2021, Kennas clients come from every sphere of business, industry and agriculture.  And we deliver the same old-fashioned service in tailored accounting, business advice and financial planning.

We’re never too busy to talk about your financial success – call us today.


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