Good governance drives successful client relationships

Saturday, 01 June 2024


    Trust is essential in any relationship, and good governance, independence and transparency are the cornerstones of trust. 

    Presented by Grant Thornton

    Grant Thornton Australia Ltd is an accounting firm with a strong focus on developing and maintaining a trusted role in the management and governance processes of its clients. As a leader in good corporate governance, with experts across audit, advisory and accounting services, it specialises in publicly listed companies and private businesses.

    “Our business is based on transparency and independent governance of the highest standard,” says Grant Thornton Australia CEO Greg Keith GAICD (pictured, left).

    “We employ a corporate structure — as distinct from a more typical partnership arrangement — helping to ensure accountability right through to our board, which has an independent chair and includes three highly skilled non-executive directors.”

    Keith was part of the team that brought the firm together in 2008.

    “We chose that higher governance structure at the time because we believed that it would drive quality,” he says. “Subsequently, it has also encouraged greater independence of thought, diversity and improved governance, which flows onto trust.”

    At the time, it was unique to commit to being a public unlisted entity, and to have publicly available audited accounts, including a transparency report to be overseen by ASIC, and to have two (now three) non-executive directors.

    Better governance

    The decision to be different from the beginning has led to greater transparency and an independence that has driven improvements around quality and efficiencies. It has also minimised the risk of unconscious bias and conflicts of interest, all of which drives better decision-making, according to Keith.

    “Clients have been looking for that type of governance — a governance structure that they can trust because of the transparency and independence,” he says. “We’d like to think that it’s walking the talk when we advise clients on best practice governance structures on a daily basis. The fact that we live it ourselves means that we can share with them our experiences and we can help them to adjust and adapt to new structures.”

    Value-based decisions

    Grant Thornton has a history of making decisions that it believes are right, but may not be what the rest of the market sees as usual. This includes the governance structure it operates under.

    In 2016, the firm announced that it would offer 26 weeks of paid parental leave. In May 2022, it launched its Gender Equity Network.

    More recently, Grant Thornton has trialled a nine-day fortnight pilot that has now been running for more than a year, which Keith says has shown dramatic benefits for the mental wellbeing of the firm’s people and boosted retention rates.

    “We make those decisions based on our values, not on the market norm,” he says. “Our people choose to work with us because their values align with our own. And our governance structure gives them confidence that we will live our values on a daily basis.”

    That trust and integrity, transparency and governance structure builds a bedrock within the firm that paves the way it does business with its clients.

    “My lived experience as a CEO is that our independent board members hold us to our purpose and our values for every critical decision,” says Keith. “This ensures that we use care as the lens by which we run our business.”

    Local expertise, global reach

    Grant Thornton cares for its people, clients and communities, and supports them to thrive through proven expertise, principled execution and by providing a personalised experience. The Australian team of 176 partners and 1500 people are part of a network of 68,000 professionals across

    145 markets worldwide. This enables the firm to keep a local focus, while also allowing it to leverage global opportunities.

    The firm has an established record of independent governance that enables leadership for the long term and trust through transparency. Care meets capability, with its partners front and centre, to provide an experience built around the client’s needs.

    The corporate capital model provides greater incentive for long-term thinking than the traditional working capital funding model employed by most partnerships. Its governance structure attracts expertise and has built a strong culture — enabling the team to provide the highest-quality support across every growth stage and industry, consistently delivering dependable solutions.

    Find out how Grant Thornton Australia can bring benefits to your business here.

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