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Local accountant acknowledged

A Wairarapa-based chartered accountant has been honoured with a professional fellowship to acknowledge his significant achievements and contributions to the community during his 50-year career.

Stephen Kerr is just one of 200 members of the Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand [CAANZ] to receive the accolade this year, out of a global membership of 138,000.

Kerr said that with a resume that spans half a century, he had forgotten some of the things he has been involved in.

“I was extremely humbled; I never even thought of this,” he said of the honour.

Kerr said that since starting his career in 1973 as a New Zealand-based chartered accountant, he had seen a “whole heap of changes,” including tax legislation, which is reviewed yearly.

Technology has also evolved a great deal – as has its cost. The first electronic calculator Kerr bought – which added, subtracted, multiplied, and divided percentages – cost $1,200, while the “the first computer I bought for businesses had software that cost thirty-something thousand dollars and ran on 256-kilobyte disks”. The iPad he now uses set him back just $600.

Kerr said other major changes have included greater expectations regarding speed and high-level data requirements, which were more complex and rigorous.

These days, clients’ needs are far more complex and demanding as well, he said.

“90 per cent of your time is spent dealing with people,” he said.

Kerr started his accounting career with Todd Motor Group in Wellington before moving to Masterton to work for the long-established firm Langdon and Falloon.

Over time, Kerr became the senior partner, a role he held for over 30 years, and the firm evolved into the present-day Amy Kerr and Associates.

He counts only losing one or two clients and working for four generations of families as career highlights.

His contributions to the community were also a significant factor in Kerr receiving a fellowship.

He has given numerous volunteer hours to the community, often without recognition.

Senior positions he’s held in local groups include treasurer, president, and committee chair of Masterton South Rotary and treasurer and audit committee chair of the Eastern and Central Community Trust.

CAANZ’s Lower North Island acting regional manager Aaron Thompson said a fellowship is “big” news in the world of chartered accountants.

“It was wonderful to be able to celebrate Stephen’s achievements,” he said, noting how he’s used his expertise and knowledge to provide pro bono help to schools, kōhanga reo, community trusts, and service organisations in Wairarapa.

Among other things, Kerr was also a chair of the Wairarapa branch of CAANZ, served as an electorate secretary for the National Party Wairarapa, and was a life member, treasurer, and vice president of Wairarapa Pistol and Sports Shooting Club.

David Paris, Diana Trubshoe, and Jennifer Mitchell, who have been CAANZ members for 40 years, and Julian Allen, whose been a member for 25 years, were also acknowledged at the event, which highlighted the depth and breadth of the work that local chartered accountants had undertaken in business and their communities.

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