Top tips for businesses in 2024 from our newly appointed Partners

The last few years have challenged many New Zealand businesses, with extreme weather events, a struggling economy, and ongoing post-Covid recovery impacting operating conditions across the country. Now, the new year brings new opportunities and potentially a more hopeful outlook.

Our November 2023 BDO Business Wellbeing Report showed 61% of business leaders were feeling positive about their current business performance. And with inflation slowing and the new Government focused on economic recovery, this positivity could expand further in the year ahead.

To help businesses prepare for a positive year, we spoke to our six newly appointed Partners across BDO New Zealand offices. While their locations, services, and specialisms vary, there’s a common thread throughout their advice to clients this year: although conditions remain challenging, the right planning and preparation can help to present more positive outcomes.

We spoke to our new Partners to get their tips on what businesses can do to navigate the changing landscape in 2024.

Shaneen Tie
Tax Partner, BDO Auckland

Shaneen is a tax specialist with more than 20 years’ tax experience. Her expertise includes helping MNE clients with international tax and transfer pricing; migrant clients with tax planning and compliance; property developers with optimising income tax and GST structures; and SaaS companies with tax obligations. She’s passionate about delivering pragmatic solutions centred on clients’ commercial goals. 

“2024 will be interesting. Looking at tax policies, we expect the coalition Government to use tax as a lever to address challenges New Zealanders are facing, at the same time juggling the need to balance the books. For example, the Government has introduced policies to reduce the residential property bright-line period and remove tax depreciation for commercial property owners, and has signalled more changes, such as adjustments to personal income tax rates, are coming. 

Internationally, we’re seeing countries take a more proactive approach to preserving their share of tax revenue. An example is the increasing need for tax transparency through reporting mechanisms like CbCR and DAC 7, and an increased level of audit activities and review of cross-border related party transactions.  

I’m encouraging clients to be proactive in managing their tax obligations. Have a clear tax governance policy, approved by the directors and implemented by the finance/tax team(s). Identify and address latent tax issues. Have an international tax “playbook” on the terms and documentation of cross-border transactions. This will help minimise unwanted surprises and may uncover opportunities to improve tax efficiency.”

Mark Nicholson
Audit & Assurance Partner, BDO Auckland

Since joining BDO as a Graduate, Mark has worked with technology and service-based businesses. He is committed to providing businesses with an exceptional client experience throughout the audit process. 

“With the ongoing talent shortage and economic turbulence, now is the time for technology and service-based businesses to focus on measures that will keep staff happy. There may not be financial incentives available to attract and maintain staff, so other retention strategies need to be looked at.

In this current environment, working effectively and with less reliance on staff makes a lot of sense. All too often we see clients fall back on manual, people-dependent processes and controls. Now may be the time to revisit this. We see ways to streamline procedures including automation, use of artificial intelligence, and system upgrades, all with the aim of freeing up human resources to focus on more meaningful work.

The audit process also relies more and more on automation and technology to streamline what we do and to deal with the routine transactions. This allows us time to focus on the bigger picture of the audit, having dialogue on the judgemental and complex matters, and working collaboratively with our clients towards deadlines.”

Amy Goodman
Audit & Assurance Partner, BDO Christchurch

Amy joined BDO as a Graduate in 2011. She focuses on manufacturing and agribusiness, with a special interest in financial services, and is passionate about helping clients identify areas where they can improve. 

“I expect to see ongoing challenges and opportunities within my markets this year, with geopolitical tensions and global economic issues impacting financial services businesses in particular. Cost efficiency will be a target across most sectors and business leaders will be keeping a close eye on the OCR and interest rates in the hope of gaining ground in this area.

I’ll be advising my clients to think beyond the short-term and make plans that still benefit them once this current economic uncertainty settles down. The last few years have been turbulent and it’s natural to be reactionary with short-term decision-making, but businesses need to think about the outlook beyond these tough times, particularly when it comes to their risk profiles. I also urge people to consider how technology can be harnessed by – and conversely used against - businesses.

Finally, I’ll be looking to add value for my audit clients by identifying and communicating areas of improvement and situations where they might be exposed. All of this will help businesses feel more confident about the year ahead.”

Dr Benjamin Walker
Tax Partner, BDO Southern Lakes & Central Otago

Benjamin has specialised in tax advisory since starting his career, gaining deep experience in international tax with stints overseas and a PhD in Austria. He thrives on providing strategic tax services that go beyond compliance to add significant business value.

“The common tax theme for international individuals and companies is complexity. This comes from managing multiple tax jurisdictions, encountering dynamic legislation, and looking to identify areas of simplification and effective tax management.

For clients in this space, I recommend front-footing tax issues and talking to advisers early – with careful planning, tax risks and opportunities can be managed well. Businesses can also focus on growth areas for the future. With the economic downturn, it’s a useful time to think about when the next growth phase will occur and how to capitalise on that.

Changes to the trustee tax rate will be a significant focal point for clients this year, along with changes to the GST Act, most notably the uniform application of GST to short-term accommodation, aka the “App tax”. Tax hasn’t always been a top priority at a Board level, but it’s becoming so important that it now needs to be part of the core business decision-making process. I’ll be communicating clearly and simply with my clients to help them identify risks and opportunities, breaking down complexities so they can navigate tax matters in 2024.” 

James Lindsay
IFRS Advisory Partner, BDO Auckland

James spearheaded the launch of BDO’s IFRS Advisory service line, helping entities assess and document areas of accounting complexity to maintain accurate accounting records for legal and audit requirements. He prides himself on providing tailored solutions that meet the unique needs of clients.

“While many businesses are looking to tighten the purse strings in 2024, it’s critical that financial reporting and accounting record-keeping compliance is not compromised. Regulators have already signalled they’ll be focussing on these for the coming financial reporting seasons. With that in mind, I recommend clients embed a culture of “do it once, do it right” when it comes to accounting and record-keeping. Where complex accounting matters sit outside the expertise of an entity’s financial team, these entities should be looking for external advice so that issues are resolved quickly and accurately.

In 2024 I’ll be ensuring that our output and reports satisfy the broad requirements of stakeholders and users – being clear and simple for Boards and management while having sufficient detail to satisfy legal, regulator, and auditor requirements. Clients deserve advice and solutions that are tailored to their unique situation so I’ll continue to provide this level of service, along with publishing timely insights on relevant financial and corporate reporting updates.

Brooke Rodriguez
Audit & Assurance Partner, BDO Wellington

Brooke’s audit and assurance expertise spans a diverse range of clients, with specialisations in the creative sector and NGOs. She’s committed to building strong client relationships based on effective communication.

“Recent months and years have seen organisations focus on short-term fixes and results, with less time available to plan for the longer term. I recommend taking a more proactive approach to accounting processes, particularly when it comes to navigating regulation changes. These changes can present challenges so it’s important for businesses to speak to their advisers early to see how they could be impacted.

Last year we saw the introduction of Statements of Service Performance for Tier 1 and Tier 2 Not for Profit entities, which added complexity for many. We encourage clients to think about their financial statements throughout the year and consider how they can tell their story beyond the numbers.

Looking into 2024 and beyond, I’ll be supporting my clients throughout the year to ensure they’re as prepared as possible for their audit period. In situations where accounting issues arise, I urge people to seek independent advice prior to the audit.”

After a busy and varied 2023, many businesses will be looking ahead to 2024 with a sense of optimism. BDO is in a strong position to assist with this, having recently been announced as the number one Financial Advisor Globally in the Factset league tables 2023.

For more assistance in setting up for success, contact your local BDO representative or reach out to one of our new Partners.