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Why this South African accounting firm will always put its people first

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Sarah Minns

Jun 8, 2022

When we think about running a successful accounting practice, we often think of profit, efficiencies, choosing the right digital tools, marketing – the list goes on. These are all important, but an essential part of building a successful business is the people and culture. 

You can have all the right technology, but you need the right people to back it up. This is even more important in the accounting industry where the accountant/client relationship is such a critical one. 

The last few years have really changed the way many of us think about work. People increasingly want to work for organisations where they can feel a shared sense of purpose.

I spoke with Peter Magner from Cape Town based accounting firm Iridium, about their approach to building standout teams. Since day one, their sense of purpose and mission to support the team and the communities they serve has been at the heart of everything they do. 

Building a company culture everyone can be proud of

For the Iridium team, having clear values and a mission that everyone understands is essential. Peter says: “We want people to be able to do the best work of their lives. Having clear values that we are all brought into is not only good for the team, but great for business. Clients can tell if you have a happy team who genuinely care about the work they are doing.

We regularly reinforce our values amongst the team and create opportunities to actively live them – whether it’s volunteering, doing something fun as a team or celebrating successes.” 

It’s also about hiring people that are the right cultural fit too. “We don’t go down the traditional interview route, we create a simulation day at work for people to experience a day at Iridium. This is so we can better see if they share our values, but also so that person gets a sense of what it’s like to work here and if it’s the right fit for them too.” 

Removing the stigma around wellbeing leave

“We’ve always been focussed on how we can treat our people better and create an inclusive environment where everyone feels supported. The team is our number one priority,”adds Peter.

Iridium recently rebranded ‘sick leave’ as ‘wellbeing leave’ to reduce the stigma around taking time off. “Protecting the wellbeing and mental health of our team is so important. Renaming leave and also making extra days available means there are fewer barriers to people taking the time they need. We’ll also pay for therapy or other forms of support if someone needs it.”

Supporting communities

It’s not just about looking inwards to your own teams, businesses also have a role to play in supporting their communities too. People want to know that they are making a difference and working for a business that cares about more than its profit margins.

“It was tough for so many of our clients during the pandemic, and it was tough for us at times too. For those struggling, we reduced our fees and really stepped up our support around things like cash flow and access to finance,” shares Peter.

“If we all work to support each other and collaborate across businesses, we’ll all be in a stronger position in the future. We love to see our clients grow and flourish, as ultimately this means we’re doing our job right and it will help us to grow as a practice too.”

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