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Sidekick’s Ric Thorpe catches up with business partner and Sidekick Rangiora director Jason Stapley at a Rangiora café
Digital connectivity drives business expansion

The power of digital connectivity has allowed Canterbury business Sidekick Chartered Accountants to expand across the Canterbury region and into Marlborough and Otago.

After establishing its first office in Christchurch eleven years ago, Sidekick has set up locally owned branches in Blenheim, Rangiora, Timaru, Ashburton, Wanaka and Queenstown.  It has further extended its reach by operating a licensee model in Auckland and London.

Advances in technology allow Sidekick’s advisors to operate wherever they can connect to the internet and this provides immense benefits for both the team and clients, says Sidekick’s Ric Thorpe.

“Connectivity allows us to do so much more as advisors and to provide real time advice. For example, just a simple change of doing a budget for a client using Google Sheets versus Excel is much more efficient because we can both work on the same spreadsheet in real time, instead of looking at two files.

“It’s like being in the room together with the client, even if we’re not physically in the same place. This provides flexibility for clients as they can schedule meetings whenever it suits them, and can connect with us from any location with an internet connection.”

Working with Xero, a cloud-based accounting platform, gives Sidekick’s advisors the ability to help clients from their laptops or mobile phones, no matter where they are. Sidekick’s business tools are all accessible online, which means advisors can take their office with them whenever they visit clients.

People say their truck is their office, and there’s no reason why that can’t be the case for the accounting world, according to Ric.

“Our rural advisor’s office, that’s literally his truck, which means we can take work that used to be done in an office out to where the client is. This provides our rural clients with a professional service which comes to them, rather than the client having to visit one of our offices.”

Advisors can share files and ideas, view computer screens remotely, and draft-in other advisors from other sites when more expertise is needed.

“Although we pride ourselves on our local owner operators, we’re not simply a series of smaller, regional offices. Technology means we all have access to a hive of expertise, so there are no geographic limits which translates into top-class advice and cheaper accountancy bills.”


NOTE: This article is part of a series commissioned by the Canterbury Mayoral Forum/MBIE to investigate the impact of the broadband roll-out on Canterbury businesses.

For more information visit https://canterburymayors.org.nz/news/