Behind the Mask talks to Kylie Parker about Robbie Williams concerts, travel plans and the impact of AI technology. 

Kylie Parker
Chartered Accountant 
Lotus Accountants

@lotusaccts

So, who are you anyway, and what do you do?

A slightly battered Chartered Accountant who has been in public practice for 25 years, worked in small, mid tier, Big 4, BBC UK and Xero now back in exclusive practice with Lotus Accountants. I also like talking accounting technology, so have co founded AccounTEK Global to enable more women to join in and have shared some life lessons in my book Planning Plan B so you can hopefully avoid the fall out I did.


How did you get into this job?

After leaving Logicca a firm I co founded in 2006, I wanted a role that was flexible, paid well and working with people I loved dealing with. I knew as a former Partner of a mid tier firm finding this role was going to come with too many strings attached to suit at the time single parenting with a young family. As a result I created Lotus Accountants to be a firm I have 100% control of from my IT, website, PR, business development, clients I work with, software programs - I do all of this myself currently and after working with 3 men who used to act as handbrakes I am relishing the ability to say and do what I think.


What song from your past still gets you moving today?

I am spinning around, and if you don’t know who that is by then either leave Australia or listen to some great iconic Australian pop music.


If you could go to one concert from the past, what one would it be?  And what would you wear?

I love performing artists so Robbie Williams and I’d wear wet-weather gear as it always seems to rain at his outdoor concerts.


A socio-economic question, but feel free to answer from your gut.  If AI, automation and robotics are going to replace repetitive and laborious tasks, what impact will this have on your industry and profession?

Accountants with personality and lateral thinking will benefit from the freedom to do more of what they love and less laborious low-value data entry.


If around ⅓ of government revenue comes from payroll tax, how will society and government cope with a reduction in the number of repetitive and laborious jobs available?  What will need to change?

Interesting question given it is not just automation but also offshore teams becoming more and more common that will see the income that state-govts derive, reducing. I think if I was able to make laws I’d remove payroll based taxes, taxes on property transfers,  increase consumption tax to 15% removing any exemptions and decrease all income-based taxes to a top rate of 33.3% - maybe with the government using AI they could model this approach as I suspect a lot of minimization of tax through structuring would disappear


What other challenges face accountants, bookkeepers or SMEs today?  And, how should they meet those challenges?

Once you create an online practice the one constant is change, so being able to be nimble and use programs you believe will have longevity to reduce business disruption is important. I think for an example MYOB by creating a connected practice are in some ways building a moat and adopting a siege mentality. Open APIs and platforms provide so many more opportunities so knowing which companies will evolve and which will become extinct is going to come down to some due diligence on the businesses you use as core to run your own practice. Examples of companies being bought then left to stagnate are rife and I expect this will continue as the app market place starts to consolidate.


With all of this change, comes some opportunity.  What opportunities do you see presenting themselves already?

Being able to work with greater flexibility and given the low cost to starting a practice now we will see the spread of niche run practices with great networks. Business Depot are the best example of formalising this new type of business model.


I don’t know about you, but I need a drink after that.  If you could buy anyone a drink in a bar and chat to them about anything, who would it be, what would you drink, and what would you talk about?

Hugh Jackman and I’d buy him whatever he chose. I think he is such an incredible entertainer, performer, business operator and someone who genuinely seems like a great guy. I’d be happy to chat about transitioning his accounting and tax services to Lotus Accountants.


And after you had that wee drink, if you could walk up to anyone, kick them in the shins and shout something at them, who would it be, and what would you shout?  Go on...get it off your chest!

Geez, I never had anyone in my life I would have wanted to do that do for forty years, however the last 5 years seem to have bought the crazies out. Sometimes I worry what it is about me that has attracted them but then I think of all the amazing people I have met and know it’s just unlucky. So to my husbands ex wife, my crazy neighbour and my ex business Partners - thanks for making me the person I am now but would you please just disappear from my life. (edited polite version)


What advice would you give to yourself at age 18? 

I got engaged to my first husband at eighteen, I don’t regret it as I wouldn’t have lived the life I have lived. Maybe just hug a few more people that I know didn’t make it to 25.


If you could retire now, what would you do? Or not do?
Whilst the kids are still at school retirement options are limited given I co parent my boys, as does my husband with his 8 year old daughter. So we have about 10 years left before we can relocate to a beach house we have at Cabarita Beach. In true retirement though the aim is to spend time following Summer, 6 months here and 6 months in Europe. However I am not putting off the trips to Europe, we head to Greece in July, for now they are just limited to school holidays.

What do you want to achieve that you haven’t as yet?

At 18 I wanted to be a Partner in a Big 4 (8 at the time) accounting firm. I was on Partner Development courses, and then when I was 28 my Manager was killed in a car crash in New Zealand. She was 24 and one of the most beautiful people inside and out that I knew. I re-assessed my priorities, divorced my husband and moved to the UK to travel. I met my second husband on a Top Deck tour around Europe. We travelled a lot and then even once we had the boys made it a priority to continue travelling taking them to Japan, Tanzania, Europe and America. Since our split I have taken them to Croatia, Bosnia, Hawaii, New Zealand, Bali and now we are about to embark on our first blended trip to Greece with my third husband and his youngest daughter. I actually met him on one of those Partner Development courses 18 years ago!


I have always been goal orientated and actually found myself the past few years just trying to put pieces of my life back together. A divorce and business split happening 6 weeks apart neither at my instigation threw both my personal and professional lives into turmoil.


During this time I have achieved so much in writing a book Planning Plan B, moving my family life to Newtown where my boys attend Newtown Performing Arts which is more suited to their creative personalities, working at Xero, being asked to present at AB Expo, getting remarried and being on numerous webinars sharing my knowledge.


So having achieved so much, my achievements now are based around simple things.


Getting my boys through their teenage years and having them become young men who have strong core values and believe in leaving the world a better place would be the one achievement I can hope for above all others. You can also add staying married.


What’s next for you, and your business?

Keep working with amazing people who are successful in their careers, businesses and maybe another book titled Planning Plan A - it has a slightly more positive tone.