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By CASEY NEILL

WHEN is an accountant not an accountant?
Dandenong South-based Ross Billson explains that he fills the gap between book keeper and external tax agent as a virtual chief financial officer (CFO).
“More information makes more informed decisions so you can plot you course with more confidence,” he said.
An $8000 Greater Dandenong Council business grant presented on 10 December has helped him to relocate from Glen Waverley and re-brand as Billson Business Advisory.
Business mentoring included in the grant is helping him to find clients.
“My first ever job was in the City of Greater Dandenong working for Price Waterhouse 25-plus years ago,” Mr Billson said.
“That was my only experience working in an accounting practice. I didn’t like it, to be frank. I didn’t want to be an auditor.
“I left the chartered accounting profession after about 12 months and got into industry.”
He worked in different financial roles at various manufacturing companies, spending time in London and the Netherlands and introducing activity-based costing to Victorian manufacturers.
“At the time, that was the real flavour of the month in terms of accurate product costings,” he said.
“The concepts still hold true today.
“I did, basically, the first activity-based costing project for a manufacturer in Victoria with National Radiators.”
Mr Billson got his public practice certificate in 2014 and started his virtual CFO business mid-last year.
He offers strategic planning, budgeting, forecasting, management reporting, system evaluation, cash-flow analysis and more.
His is a long way from the traditional-style accounting practice focused on auditing and taxation.
“I don’t do any of that – I’m specifically away from that kind of thing, doing the business advisory and really partnering with businesses,” he said.
“It’s really just a part-time chief financial officer or a part-time financial controller or a part-time finance manager.
“It’s going into companies and either doing projects for a period of time or going in once a week, once a month, once a quarter and being part of their management team and bringing that financial expertise from where I’ve been in industry into the SME (small to medium enterprise) manufacturers.
“The SMEs can’t really afford a full time financial officer and they don’t want them doing data entry to fill in time.”
Mr Billlson’s focus is now on networking and letting businesses know the benefits he can offer.
“I don’t need a lot of clients to keep me busy. Probably 10 to 20 is the scale I’d be looking at,” he said.
“Growing beyond that I’d be looking at putting on staff.
“I would hope in the next 12 months I would have at least 10 clients. That’s my objective.”
The Journal will profile each of the business grant recipients over coming months.

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