Kitchen table tales fuel a life-long love for finance
Kevin gives credit to family values
"It has never been theoretical for me. I always knew it was something that touched people’s lives"
Finance has always felt personal for Kevin Fitzgerald.
When he was growing up in Dublin his mum and grandad ran a small community credit union, and the talk around the kitchen table was all about the lives of the people who relied on it.
‘You couldn’t help but absorb all the stories,’ said Kevin. ‘They’d talk about what the credit union meant for people, in a part of the city where they wouldn’t necessarily have access to banks. The credit union gave them a chance to save, or to borrow when they needed it.
‘I saw the part that finance played in people’s lives. My grandad, especially, was really well known and respected in the community. He was the treasurer. He knew everyone for miles around, and people would come up and chat wherever we were. That memory stayed with me. Finance has never been theoretical for me. I always knew it was something that touched people’s lives.’
No surprise that Kevin chose finance as a career when he left school, swerving university to join a small accountancy practice in Dublin.
‘I loved it,’ said Kevin.
‘I loved the relationships you made with the people who were running small businesses, doing their best to make a living, employing people – and it was really satisfying helping them to do that.’
He was also studying for his ACCA Qualification, and that was an obvious choice for a young man who knew he wanted to travel the world one day.
‘It was clear to me then, and it is still clear to me now, that ACCA is the best call for anyone with global ambitions. It is a global force, and I knew that ACCA was my way in to working overseas.’ And that’s precisely how it turned out.
After earning his spurs in Ireland Kevin dipped his toe in foreign waters with KPMG in Jersey before setting his course for Melbourne, Australia.
‘I’d done my research,’ he said. ‘I took a year off to travel the world with a mate, and we went everywhere. Of all the places, I felt that Australia was somewhere I could live, so that was that.’
Just as he’d hoped and planned, ACCA eased the way.
"It felt like a start-up. But now we have customers in every country on the continent, and it’s growing fast"
‘I landed in Melbourne with no job, no mates and no network,’ he said.
‘They had these weekly ACCA events called Red Box Tuesday, and I went along. I was immediately surrounded by all these friendly people who put me in touch with contacts, and I was on my way.’
Kevin got in on the ground floor with Xero, the accounting software business which has exploded across the world, and is a commercial partner of ACCA. He was recruited as manager of the vast Victoria and Tasmania territory, and after building that business in spectacular fashion, he was invited to head the Asia operation based in Singapore.
‘It’s been an amazing experience,’ said Kevin.
‘We were small when I first started. It felt like a start-up. But now we have customers in every country on the continent, and it’s growing fast.
‘The most satisfaction is the same as it ever was. We work with SMEs, and you get to see the difference you can make. We can help people get more out of their business and to help then grow, and that gives me a lot of pleasure.’