Thursday, August 24, 2023


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

140 Years Of Whitson Dawson

The history of Whitson Dawson is long and impressive, but while the accounting firm looks back on its 140-year history with pride, it also looks forward with excitement and confidence. Started in 1883 by W G Hodges, the firm came into the Whitson family in 1956 when Colin Whitson, well known for his accountancy and secretarial roles in the north Queensland sugar industry, joined the firm. He purchased the practise in 1958, running it until his death in 1964 when his son Neil took over. With the purchase and acquisition of more firms over the years, Whitson Dawson morphed and adapted into the accounting firm renowned throughout Mackay; steeped in local history but forward-thinking in its approach to business.

Now at the helm are Neil’s sons, Andrew and David, who joined in 1995 and 2000 respectively. The directors draw on those 140 years of generational experience, using and applying it to service current and new clients in accounting, tax and business advice. It’s this adaptability that has kept the business at the forefront of the industry for over a century; constantly evolving to the changes in the industry while relying on genuine experience and a dedicated team.

The firm is entrenched in the local community, working with a variety of likeminded businesses and professionals to provide expert advice and services. Working with other advisors including lawyers, financial planners, bankers, real estate agents and valuers, Whitson Dawson sees the importance of surrounding clients with good advisors and maintaining good relationships. The firm believes this is crucial to achieve good outcomes for the clients at each stage of the business life cycle, as accountants are at the nexus of all these events where other advisors overlap.

This holistic approach is an example of Whitson Dawson’s proactive attitude towards tax planning, reducing the stress and anxiety of the clients being a major focus of the firm. With a core group of staff dedicated to the business, clients can expect expert advice and continuity of care, no matter the team member. Whitson Dawson prides itself on education, both of the client and the staff members. It’s a place accountants want to work, with opportunities to work with freedom and progress through their careers aplenty. With some team members joining when they left school and progressing within the company to become senior accountants, Whitson Dawson is excited to foster Mackay’s next generation of tax professionals.

The Whitson Dawon team celebrate 140 years in 2023. Photo supplied

Kacey Peoples

Senior Manager of Whitson Dawson

What drives Kacey Peoples every day is the satisfaction of helping her clients get the best outcome for their finances.

Kacey began with Whitson Dawson 13 years ago, in her second year of university. Since then, she has become an integral figure to Whitson Dawson, overseeing key changes to the business over that time.

“I knew early that accounting was the profession I wanted to pursue,” Kacey said.

“Although there is so much more to accounting than what’s in the books!”

One of the highlights for Kacey has been seeing Whitson Dawson embrace the changes in technology over the years.

“When I first started, it was mainly paper-based systems,” she said.

Kacey has also seen Whitson Dawson adapt to new and changing government policies, which often required changes to the business, including becoming more technology forward, with the introduction of Single Touch Payroll and electronic submission of Employee Superannuation Payments.

In her free time, Kacey practices her yoga and Pilates, and closely follows the Brisbane Broncos in the NRL. She also volunteers with the Marian Markets once a month, and the Pioneer Valley Show annually.

Q: What's the one piece of advice about money that you would give your 18-year-old self?

A: Don’t be afraid to take ‘calculated’ risks.

Q: What's the worst piece of financial advice that is commonly believed?

A: I wouldn’t say it is bad financial advice, but I commonly hear the negative connotations around paying tax. A business paying tax means it is performing well so should be looked at as a positive.

Willem Weilbach

Senior Accountant with Whitson Dawson

Passion is not something that Willem Weilbach lacks, most definitely not for his work as Senior Accountant with Whitson Dawson.

Willem first realised his love for accounting in Year 10, with his first accounting subject.

“I fell in love with debits and credits and never looked back,” Willem said.

Over his six years with the business, one highlight for Willem has been achieving CPA status in June 2022, however he is often tasked with being the office handyman and tech support.

“More often than not, I use my CPA qualification to rearrange office desks and furniture and fix issues with computers!”

Away from the office, Willem relaxes with his partner, Shay, and their fur baby, Odie, a little foxy with “enough energy to power a nuclear submarine.”

Q: If you only had $1000 what would be the best investment?

A: A good pair of RM Williams boots. I’ve worn multiple boots and they all break within 6 to 12 months. I’ve had these boots for a year, and they still look and feel brand-new, with the proper care.

Q: What's the worst piece of financial advice that is commonly believed?

A: I think the worst piece of financial advice that is commonly believed is to use the equity on your family home to buy a rental property. There are a lot of success stories on the internet, but you never hear about the ones who lost the family home. Although it can work, the family home is still at risk and now you need to service two mortgages. It’s something that would personally keep me up at night!

Sam Di Francesco

Graduate Accountant with Whitson Dawson

Having always been good with numbers, it is no surprise that Sam Di Francesco moved into the Graduate Accountant position with Whitson Dawson three years ago.

Sam completed his studies at university while employed part time with Whitson Dawson, before moving into the Graduate position.

“I found accounting in high school really interesting, which was compounded by my uni studies and everything I’ve learn about accounting and tax while working here. Something I love about working in tax is that we have the ability to help people basically through the use of a few spreadsheets,” Sam said.

One milestone for Sam is being able to learn on the job, with his part time employment with Whitson Dawson while studying.

“While scary at the time, it was absolutely worth it once I completed my degree.”

In his free time, Sam watches every game of Rugby League – “Up the Broncos!” – while stressing about the NRL. In summer, when he isn’t watching cricket – “Hopefully Australia wins the Ashes this year” – he is playing for the Magpies Cricket Club.

Q: What's the one piece of advice about money that you would give your 18-year-old self?

A: Save your money whenever you can but spending a little for yourself isn’t the worst thing in the world.

Q: What's the worst piece of financial advice that is commonly believed?

A: Cryptocurrency will instantly make you rich. While people have made a considerable amount of money off it, its volatile nature has caused people to lose everything they have.

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