Cyber Awareness To Stay Safe

Universal Computer Solutions are leaders in their field and it’s no wonder that we trust them when it comes to all areas of Cyber Awareness.  Managing Director, and friend of our business has put together this article about Cyber Awareness to ensure that nobody is taken for a ride.  Introducing, Cyber Awareness To Stay Safe – Accountants Geelong l Canny Group.

As we increase our reliance on technology in both business and our private lives, it seems that more and more often we are hearing of systems being “hacked” or businesses and individuals defrauded of their funds and life savings.  And over the COVID-19 Pandemic, cyber criminals have only ramped up their activities.

In recent months we have seen a major security breach at RMIT University in Melbourne, a suspected cyber-attack has forced hospitals in Melbourne’s east to take their IT systems offline and delay non-critical surgeries, and it was not too long ago that the whole Barwon Health system across Geelong was crippled by a virus that destroyed critical data and records.

Unfortunately, as IT systems become more and more difficult to break into from a technical perspective, cyber criminals are searching for the weakest link in the equation: the unsuspecting end user.  According to Cyber Security statistics last year, over 95% of security breaches were the result of human error (namely, criminals fooling people into divulging their details, or allowing access to their systems).

People, unlike computers, can be fooled and manipulated much easier than trying to crack into a highly secured modern system, so the most used vector for all of the above examples is by trying to fool the end user either by email, phone call, or text message into divulging passwords, allowing access to their computer or mobile phone, even handing over their online banking details, but pretending to the a “trusted” source, and subsequently defrauding or taking advantage of the situation.

There are many motives for such attacks, but by far, the most common these days is simply financial, and once again, it is estimated that the worldwide information security market is forecast to reach $170.4 billion in 2022 (according to the Gartner Group).

So, it is no wonder that it is an ever-growing magnet for the criminal underworld.  Fortunately for us, it’s also a no-brainer to avoid such exploits and stop the criminals in their tracks purely by using some common sense measures:

  • Do not provide sensitive personal information (like usernames and passwords) over email
  • Watch for email senders that use suspicious or misleading names
  • Inspect URLs carefully to make sure they’re legitimate and not imposter sites
  • Do not try to open any shared document that you’re not expecting to receive
  • If you can’t tell if an email is legitimate or not, please contact your Information Technology help desk
  • Be especially cautions when opening attachments or clicking links if you receive an email containing a warning banner indicating that it originated from an external source

DO NOT //

  • Open any email attachments that end with; .exe .scr .bat .com, or other executable files you do not recognise
  • “Unsubscribe” it is easier to delete the e-mail than to deal with the security risks
  • Ever click embedded links in messages without hovering your mouse over them first to check the URL
  • Respond or reply to spam in any way.  Use the delete button

ALWAYS //

  • Check the email “from” fields to validate the sending.  This “from” address may be spoofed
  • Check for so-called “double-extended” scam attachments.  A text file named “safe.txt” is safe but a file called “safe.txt.exe” is not
  • Report all suspicious emails to your Information Technology help desk
  • Note that www.microsoft.com. and www.support.microsoft.software.com are two different domains

It’s important to remember, that big companies will *NOT*

  • Call you on your phone OR text you asking for your username or password (or any other personal details)
  • You will *NEVER* get an email from you bank, telco, internet provider (or any other business) requesting you to “click here to verify your details” (or any such nonsense)
  • And you will *DEFINITELY* never get a call from “Microsoft” telling you that your computer is infected with a virus!  (you might get called from your IT Provider who you know on a first name basis, but not Microsoft, Apple or your mobile phone provider!)
  • Or from the Australian Tax Office telling you that you are going to be arrested if you don’t pay a bogus fine

So always be *super* suspicious (err on the side of caution).  If you get an email, or text, or phone call, *SEEK ADVICE* from your IT Support provider if you think that it might be legitimate, and they will help you out and clarify if/when action needs to be taken.

You can also go to the Australian Competition & Consumer’s Commission’s website specifically set up to advise the public to see if a particular scam describes the symptoms of what you are experiencing – save this link to your favourites tab and use it any time you get a text, email or phone call which doesn’t sound right!

So, don’t become the next person to be fooled and taken advantage of.  It could cost you, your employer (and your contacts and people who you frequently correspond with) dearly.  Just like the measures we used during the COVID-19 lockdown, an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure.  Be ultra cautious, stay safe, and don’t get taken for a ride!

If you would like to know more from Universal Computer Solutions, get in touch and we can help to put your mind at ease!

 

Nenad Saffin – Managing Director

Universal Computer Solutions

Don’t Be An April Fool + Get Caught Out With An Audit

Don’t Be An April Fool + Get Caught Out With An Audit. 

It is something that a lot of taxpayers dread.  An audit from the ATO.  It invokes images of being interrogated in a windowless room.  Having to provide receipts for every deduction you’ve claimed in your life.  Rummaging through a shoebox to find the receipt for a $5 donation you made 10 years ago.  Being hauled off to prison over a few hundred dollars.  We have put together this article to be able to arm you with everything you need to know and how not to be an April fool when it comes to an audit from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), introducing; Don’t Be An April Fool + Get Caught Out With An Audit l Canny Group

The reality is a little different.  The ATO does thousands of audits each year – Income Tax Returns, Business Activity Statements, Superannuation, Capital Gains, Fringe Benefits, Individuals, Trusts, Companies, Superannuation Funds, the list goes on.

The ATO also has a time limit to conduct audits.  For most taxpayers with simple tax affairs, the ATO usually has two years from the date an assessment is issued. For more complex taxpayers, the time limit increases to four years.  However, where the ATO suspect fraud or evasion there is no time limit.

Why does the ATO conduct audits?

The Australian tax system is based on the concept of self-assessment. That is, the information that you submit to the ATO is initially accepted as being correct and the onus is on you to ensure that your tax return complies with the taxation laws.

If the ATO suspects that the information you have provided may not be correct, they may decide to conduct a review or audit to verify its accuracy.

In 2020, it was estimated that ATO audits resulted in additional revenue of $9.5 billion and in the previous 4 years the total additional revenue was over $40 billion.

What are Reviews + Audits?

Depending on your circumstances, the ATO may initially conduct a Review.  A Review can be a simple and quick process of the ATO requesting source documents and workpapers.  Whereas an audit is a more in-depth examination of the tax issue that has arisen.

The review is generally conducted by an ATO Audit Officer who studies your financial records and tries to match them to the lodged reports.  This could include requesting a transaction listing for the period being audited, looking for proof of payments made (e.g. bank statements, payment receipts) and contacting your suppliers to verify the integrity of invoices provided.

The ATO may request payroll reports or contractor payment summaries as well.  Once these records are provided and the documents are reviewed by a case officer, they may then decide whether the review was satisfactory.

If the officer believes you have not complied with the obligations or a review is not satisfactory given the complexity of the matter or due to some other reason, they may then refer the matter to the audit department.  When this happens, a review gets converted into an Audit.

An ATO Audit is simply a verification of compliance and the accuracy of figures stated on a tax return, activity statement or any other lodged statements.  Hence every tiny bit of information could be subject to audit.

A typical audit will involve meeting with the ATO where they will provide information regarding what is being audited, the periods under audit and what information they will require.

While the ATO will usually use a cooperative approach to gathering information from the taxpayer, they do have legal powers that give them full and free access to places, books and documents and can exercise these powers without notice.

When the ATO has completed its audit, it will provide its position to the taxpayer in writing.  They will also advise if they intend to amend your assessment.  There may be additional tax, penalties and interest charges payable.

If you disagree with the ATO’s decision you can lodge an objection or appeal.  This will be then looked at by someone within the ATO, but not the same person that made the initial decision.  If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you can pursue the matter through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal or the Federal Court.

 How does the ATO know who to audit?

To decide who to audit, the ATO use data matching, benchmarking, tip offs, newspapers, and even social media! There is also the possibility that you can be audited by random selection.

The ATO now has access to a huge amount of data. They receive data from banks and financial institutions, Medicare, Centrelink, Workcover, land titles offices and planning authorities, as well as property title transfers, tenancy agreements, new car purchases, share registers, managed investments funds, building contractors – and many more.

Benchmarking allows the ATO to compare data across various industries to identify any taxpayers that are claiming high deductions or not declaring all income.

There have even been cases where ATO officers have read newspaper articles or viewed something on social media and conducted a review or audit.

And it is not just the ATO. State Revenue Offices also conduct audits in relation to state taxes such as stamp duty, payroll tax and land tax. Declaring rental income on your income tax return may trigger a State Revenue Office to review your land tax registration.

And the state governments talk to each other. A payroll tax audit by one state may lead to a payroll tax audit in another state if a business is operating in multiple states.

Audit Insurance

Complying with an audit can be a time-consuming exercise. You may be required to provide reports and other source documents dating back many years.

Audit insurance will cover you if you hire a professional lawyer or accountant to complete the tax audit on your behalf.  Even if no adjustments are required after the audit, you could be left with considerable professional fees.  Audit insurance does not cover you if you are required to pay additional money to the ATO after the completion of the audit process.

Canny Group offers Audit Shield service to our clients. This insurance covers audits, enquiries, investigations and reviews into the following:

  • Capital Gains Tax
  • Fringe Benefits Tax
  • GST/BAS
  • Income Tax
  • Land Tax
  • Payroll Tax
  • PAYG
  • Superannuation Guarantee
  • SMSFs + many more!

The best way to avoid an audit is to comply with the law.  Maintaining accurate records can assist in responding to an audit, as you are able to provide information to the ATO in an efficient manner.  If you are in a high-risk category or have complex tax affairs, you should also consider taking out Audit Insurance to avoid being left with a large accounting bill at the end of an audit.

Get in touch with our team today, so that we are able to talk you through the process and ensure that you don’t be an April fool + get caught out with an audit l Canny Group.  We are the accountants Geelong locals and surrounding areas trust to ensure their accounting and tax needs are met and are covered should you find yourself in the face of an AUTO audit.

 

Dale Knight l Accountant

CA B.Acc 

Don’t Let Yourself Be Financially April Fooled!

Don’t Be Financially April Fooled – Wealth Protection l Canny Group

Once upon a time I was a fool…  Before going in to some scams that are out there at the moment and potential ways to protect yourself, I thought I’d go through an instance where I was a fool, through no fault of my own!  As a financial planner, or advisor, it’s important to dictate to clients what we do in an easy to understand manner.  It comes down to the 30 second elevator spiel.  I was dealing with a client on their insurances and enquired as to what they were doing with the rest of their day, and they said they were going to see a financial planner.  I was a little taken aback!  We have put together this article to help you know what questions to ask and what Canny Advisory can to when it comes to being your financial advisors, planners and everything in between, introducing; Don’t Be Financially April Fooled – Wealth Protection l Canny Group.

When I delved deeper, they have only known me as someone that dealt with insurances for them and their friends in the past, and had no idea that as a Financial Planner, or Certified Financial Planner, there was a whole range of advisory services that I could provide them with assistance on.  It made me wonder how many of my current clients knew what exactly it was that I could do for them, and when was a good time to contact me; when something changed in their lives that would help!

What does a Financial Advisory Services business do + what areas can they provide advice in?

Typically, a Financial Advisory Firm can provide you with advice around your financial goals.  The thing is, you might not know what these goals are, or the scope of them, prior to talking with a Financial Planner.

A list of some of the areas that we can provide advice in are:

  • Retirement Planning
  • Advice in relation to Superannuation
  • Estate Planning
  • Investment Management
  • Wealth Protection (Insurance)
  • Tax Planning

As your can see from the above list, it’s not exhaustive and each of those sub-categories can be broken down even further.  The financial planning process is not limited by any stretch of the imagination.  Financial plans can be tailored for all ages, and all potential areas of advice.  They’re a good tool to monitor progress and ensure that you remain on track to achieve what you initially set out to.  Seeking financial advice from financial professionals is one way that you can ensure that you’re putting your best foot forward.

Money Smart has a page that is dedicated to helping you choose a financial advisor, or knowing what to ask for to help your decision making process.

Current scams in the market place

There are so many different scams that are hitting all kinds of people these days, it makes us all very untrusting.  It used to seem that it was merely the elderly that were attacked, and mostly on the landline telephone, but these days most of the scams are targeted to mobile phones and email addresses.

Promises of multi-million dollar inheritances, incorrect login attempts to your online banking, you owing the tax department money with a Sheriff ready to kick down your door, or to a very common one that either someone has tried to log in to your PayPal account or you need to update your PayPal details.  A lot of these emails or text messages will prompt you to go to a link in the message directly, for you to initially login and then update your details.  The trick here is that the website they direct you to is not the official website, meaning you enter in your details, they’ll then enter them into the correct website and you’ll be none the wise.  In some cases, you’ll enter them correct, you’ll get taken to an error page, and then they take you to the correct page so you login in the second time without any issues.

Another big scam at the moment, with the ever rising popularity of cryptocurrency, are the blackmail emails from people that say they’ve caught you doing something you shouldn’t, or have your passwords, and for them to release them back to you, you have to send them a fraction of a bitcoin.  The truth is, these people have your passwords potentially as your email address has been hacked or leaked in a hacking attempt in the past.  I know, for example, that one of my email addresses that I used to register to LinkedIn was release in one of their hacks a few years ago and Dropbox was another.

You can check here if your details have been hacked in the past by typing in your e-mail address.

How to prevent some of these scams?

One of the easiest ways to prevent yourself being scammed is some of the only bank and other websites that require logins and passwords and deal with money transfer is 2FA, or two-factor authentication.  This means that you’ll login with a password, but then also a randomly generated code that expires every 30 to 60 seconds.  These cods can be generated by a by a variety of different Apps of sites.  I know that Google has one, which is phone specific, and there is an App called Authy which can be installed on a desktop or a phone as well.  You just link these accounts (if allowable) to the Apps, which means that without the randomly generated code, no one can log in to your account fully, even if they have your password.  It just adds an important second layer of security to how you operate.  I know that I personally, bank with Bendigo Bank and they have an App that provides a special code when adding new payees or logging in, or on every payment made if you want!

Another important thing to remember is that if you get one of these emails or text messages, never click on their provided link in their contact method to you (text message, email etc.).  Also, go directly to the website that you have bookmarked or saved in your phone or on your computer.  This way the chances of you being re-directed to a hoax site is lessened dramatically.

Always remember the age of adage, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!

Canny Advisory + not being an April Fool…

Get in touch with us today if you feel that you’ve been scammed, or if you’d like to make a time to organise a review of your financial situation, so we can start identifying your goals and get your on the path to financial success, safely and surely!

 

Steve Reynold l Certified Financial Planner

BComm DipFS(FP)

How Can A Special Disability Trust Help Your Child?

How Can A Special Disability Trust Help Your Child l Canny Group

Having children can be one of the most rewarding, challenging, stressful and enjoyable (most of the time) rollercoasters of life!  Caring for children from the moment they’re first put into your arms right through to having an empty nest, there is nothing that you wouldn’t do to ensure that your children have the best opportunities that life can offer.  Having a child with a disability is no different.  One of the biggest concerns that we see from our clients that have children with disabilities, is what is going to happen to them when their parents pass away.  Who is going to pay for their day to day living expenses?  Who is going to ensure that they are given the reasonable care?  Where are they going to live?  These are just some of the concerns that these parents are faced with!  We have put together this article to help you gather some information and understand on everything you need to know when it comes to Special Disability Trusts, introducing; How Can A Special Disability Trust Help Your Child l Canny Group.

What Is A Special Disability Trust (SDT)?

A Special Disability Trust enables family members to contribute money and/or property into trust to be used for the reasonable care and accommodation needs of a beneficiary who is considered to have a sever disability.  Under this arrangement, the money and assets held in the Special Disability Trust can be used for the benefit of the beneficiary without impacting their entitlement to a Disability Support Pension.  This trust can be created now or within your Will to be established upon your passing.

Who Is Eligible To Be A Beneficiary Of A Special Disability Trust?

A beneficiary is assessed by the Department of Human Services (DHS) and must be considered to have a ‘severe disability’ under section 1209M of the Social Security Act 1991.

A persona with a sever disability is a person:

  • Who has reached 16 years of age:
    • Whose level of impairment would qualify for or is already qualified and receiving the Disability Support Pension
    • Who has a disability that would, if the person had a sole carer, qualify the carer for Carer Payment or Carer Allowance
    • Who is living in an institution, hostel or group home providing care for people with disabilities and which funding is provided; and
    • Who has a disability and as a result that person is not working or has no likelihood of working more than seven hours per week at the relevant minimal wage

OR

  • A person under 16 years of age:
    • Who is a profoundly disabled child as defined in Social Security Act section 197(1) who has a beneficiary immediately before 1 July 2009

OR

  • A child under 16 years of age:
    • Who is a person with a sever disability or a severe medical condition, and
    • Another person (the carer) has been given a qualifying rating of ‘intense’ under the Disability Care Load Assessment (Child) Determination for caring for the child, and
    • A treating health professional has certified in writing that, because of that disability or condition the child will need personal care for six months or more and child care is required to be provided by a specific member or persons.

The initial step should be to verify with DHS or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) that the beneficiary meets the definition of ‘severe disability’ before establishing a Special Disability Trust.

How Is A Special Disability Trust established?

A Special Disability Trust may be set up in two ways: (a) by family members during their lifetime through the execution of a deed, or (b) through the creation of a Will incorporating Special Disability Trust provisions.

For option (a) the beneficiary must meet the criteria above prior to entering into the Special Disability Trust.  For option (b) the assessment of eligibility occurs after your passing and will only be created if the beneficiary is considered eligible.

Why Choose a Special Disability Trust?

A Special Disability Trust provides the following benefits to the beneficiary:

  1. Beneficiary can enjoy the benefit of significant assets (within limits), without detriment to their entitlement to Disability Support Pension
  2. It provides asset protection for the beneficiary
  3. It eliminates or reduces the need for the beneficiary to have a Will of their own
  4. It provides certain tax, duty and gifting exemptions (within limits) for the transfer of assets into a Special Disability Trust by family members
  5. Income from the assets of a Special Disability Trust will not be counted for the assessment of the income test to the beneficiary of the trust
  6. The assessable assets of that trust of up to $681,750 (as at 1 July 2019 indexed annually) plus the main residence of which the beneficiary reside will be disregarded for the assessment of the assets test

Can Everything Go Into A Special Disability Trust?

A Special Disability Trust can hold on trust a residence (to any value) where the beneficiary resides and up to $681,750 of other assets (as at July 2019) without any impact to the beneficiary’s entitlement to the Disability Support Pension.

Therefore, $681,750 of assets plus the home in which the beneficiary lives will not be included in the assessable assets of the beneficiary.  Any value above this amount will be assessed against the assets of the beneficiary.

Are There Any Restrictions On What Can Be Gifted To A Special Disability Trust?

Yes, there are some restrictions on what a beneficiary or their partner can gift to a Special Disability Trust.

Two types of assets cannot be contributed to the trust:

  1. Any asset transferred to the trust by the beneficiary or their partner unless
    1. The asset is all or part of a bequest or a superannuation death benefit, and
    2. The bequest or superannuation benefit was received not more than three years before the transfer;
  2. Any compensation received by or on behalf of the beneficiary.

These rules are intended to preserve the existing treatment of compensation payments and prevent the beneficiary from putting their own property into a SDT in order to qualify for income support, rather than using it directly for their own support.

How Is The Special Disability Trust Managed?

A trustee/s are appointed by a deed to operate the trust for the benefit of the beneficiary.  The trustee/s cannot be the beneficiary.

The trustee/s manage the investment of assets and application of assets/income toward the accommodation and medical needs of the beneficiary.  Discretionary expenditure is limited to $12,250 a year (as at July 2019 indexed annually).

The beneficiary continues to receive and use their Disability Support Pension as normal.

Assets can be gifted to trust (by family members, or from an estate of deceased family member) and upon death of beneficiary, the trust is wound up and the balance of the trust is distributed as per direction of initial contributor (family member).

What Are Reasonable Care Needs?

A care need is considered reasonable if:

  • The need arises as a result of the disability of the beneficiary; and
  • The need is for the primary benefit of the beneficiary; and
  • The need is met in Australia

The following are some examples of reasonable care needs (please note, these are only some of the examples and should not be regarded as a definitive list):

  • Specialised food specified by a medical practitioner as essential for the beneficiary’s health;
  • Mobility aids, prostheses and positioning aids required for, or because of, the beneficiary’s disability;
  • Sleeping and sensory aids required for, or because of, the beneficiary’s disability;
  • Personal care aids required for, or because of, the beneficiary’s disability;
  • Communication devices (including computers) that are essential, or that have been modified, because of the beneficiary’s disability;
  • Modified vehicle, if required for, or because of, the beneficiary’s disability;
  • Modification to vehicle, if required for, or because of, the beneficiary’s disability;
  • Transport required for, or because of, the beneficiary’s disability;
  • The daily care fee and any additional itemised fees charged by an approved provider in relation to the beneficiary’s care and accommodation in a residential care service; and
  • Medial related and dental costs of the beneficiary

What Are Reasonable Accommodation Needs?

An accommodation need of the beneficiary is considered reasonable if:

  • It arises as a result of the disability of the beneficiary; or
  • The need to pay for property ( whether purchased in part of full, or rented) is for the accommodation needs of the beneficiary and the property is acquired or rented from a person who is not an immediate family member of the beneficiary.

The need to pay rates and taxes on a property is a reasonable accommodation need if the property:

  • Is owned by a Special Disability Trust; and/or
  • Is used for the accommodation of the beneficiary of the Special Disability Trust

The following are examples of reasonable accommodation needs (please note, these are only some of the examples and should not be regarded as a definitive list):

  • Modification to the beneficiary’s place of residence arising from his or her disability;
  • Payment for the purchase of the beneficiary’s place of residence if the payment is not make to an immediate family member of the beneficiary;
  • Payment of rental for the beneficiary’s place of residence if the payment is not made to an immediate family member of the beneficiary;
  • Any itemised fees which specifically relate to the accommodation of the beneficiary residing in a residential care service

Maintenance of trust property assets means keeping the property in comparable condition/s and/or to a condition that it is safe for use.  Maintenance does not mean replacement, unless it can be proven in writing by a specialist in the specific field that the item needs to be replaced as it cannot be fixed.

What will be reasonable in each case will depend on the level of disability and the needs of the person concerned.  The most important consideration is what the beneficiary requires by way of accommodation and care.

How Can Others Contribute To The Special Disability Trust?

Any gift to the trust must be unconditional and made without expectation of receiving any payment or benefit in return.

Anyone can give to the Special Disability Trust.  Any gift to the trust, whether it is from an immediate family member or any other person, must be unconditional and made without expectation of receiving any payment or benefit in return.

For anyone eligible for the gifting concession, they can gift up to $500,000.  For those note eligible for the concession, they can only gift up to $100,000.

The gifting concession is only available to an immediate family member who:

  • Receives a social security pension and has reached age pension age; or
  • Receives a service pension and has reached the veterans’ pension age; or
  • Receives a veterans’ income support supplement and has reached the qualifying age for the payment

Immediate family members’ of the beneficiary are:

  • Parents (including adoptive and step-parents);
  • Legal guardians of a person with a severe disability who is less than 18 years only;
  • Grandparents; and
  • Brothers and Sisters (including adoptive and step-brothers and sisters and half brothers and sisters)

To use the concession, you must be an immediate family member who is receiving a qualifying payment and inform of the DHS or the DVA of your intention to use the concession.  Where the concession has been fully used, additional contributions by immediate family members will be assessed under the normal gifting rules.

What Happens To The Assets Of The Special Disability Trust After The Passing Of The Beneficiary? 

If the trust deed allows, the people who have contributed funds to the trust can specify what they want to happen to any surplus property derived from their contribution.

For example, it could be returned to them (if they are still alive) or to their executors to be dealt with under their Will.  Or they could nominate their children, other family members or a charity to receive their share.

If the trust comes to an end or ceases to be a Special Disability Trust within five years of the property being transferred to the trust, that property may be subject to the gifting rule and may affect the income support entitlements of the person who gave the property to the trust.

What Other Factors To Take Into Consideration When Considering Setting Up A Special Disability Trust?

Just how useful a Special Disability Trust is likely to be is very much dependent on individual circumstances, and the plans and wishes parents have for their children, to take account of the disability.

It is important for you to obtain legal advice (including accounting or financial planning advice as well) before deciding whether a Trust is suitable for their individual situation and whether to set up nor, or via your will.  You may wish to look at the Special Disability Trust, Model Trust Deed to see if this could possibly be an option for you and your family, however, obtaining advice first is highly recommended and required.

 

At Canny Group, we have all the services that you need to to guide you to offer you advice on which path is the right to take for your individual circumstances.  We pride ourselves on ensuring Special Disability Trusts are set up with the wealth of knowledge our team have behind them for the people that need them the most.  Get in touch with our team today!

Fool Proof NDIS Plan Management

Fool Proof NDIS Plan Management – NDIS Help l Canny Group

Nobody likes being made into an April Fool – especially when it comes to your NDIS funding, we have put this article together to make sure that you make the right decision for you when it comes to choosing the right NDIS Plan Manager, introducing; Fool Proof NDIS Plan Management – NDIS Help l Canny Group.

Not for the first time has the National Disability Insurance Scheme been referred to as a game changer.  With the introduction and implementation of the NDIS came a change to the way in which disability services were funded.  Gone is the block and grant funding allocated to disability service organisations.  People with a disability now have individualised funding enabling them to decide on what types of supports they need and who they want to provide those supports.

NDIS participants have choice and control over how their NDIS funds are managed.  They can choose to self manage their funds, have them managed by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) or engage an independent financial intermediary such as Canny Plan Management to plan manage on their behalf, commonly know and referred to as a Plan Manager.

The option for plan management has opened the market for plan management providers, from large national organisations and businesses to small companies and sole traders.  A National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Participant who has opted for or is thinking about having their funds plan managed, should select a provider who suits their plan management needs and wants: be it independent financial scrutiny, checks and balances, assistance with creating and monitoring their funds in a budget breakdown, or time saving by not having to process invoices, payments and record keeping.

Canny Plan Management Clients Are No Fool!

The idiom a “fool and his money are soon parted” is centuries old, and still rings true – however not for Canny Plan Management clients.  They are no fool.  They have chosen wisely.  Whereas some plan managers focus solely on the accounts payable task, others such as Canny Plan Management put the person first and work with the client as part of their support network.

Canny – by definition is;

  1. Having or showing shrewdness and good judgement, especially in money or business matters.
  2. Pleasant; nice

Canny Group as a whole, have been assisting the community, near and far for over 60 years with showing shrewdness and good judgement, especially in money and or business matters.

We are proud to be leaders in all of our industries, Accounting, Advisory, Legal and NDIS Plan Management, which we house all under the one roof.

Our commitment to our clients is to give them the confidence of knowing the team working with them is doing what we do best, so that you can focus on doing what you do best.  We provide support to our clients from all walks of life and in all stages of life to set and achieve their goals.

Specially, for our Canny Plan Management clients, we provide and deliver all of the above: independent financial scrutiny, checks and balances, creating and monitoring budget breakdowns, processing invoices and payments and record keeping – but that is just the start!  Most of all, we offer a real person for you to work with and rely on.

Working with our clients, it’s our role to assist them to exercise their right to choice and control over their supports and providers. It’s also our role to enable and ensure our clients utilise and maximise their National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) funding for appropriate reasonable and necessary supports which align with their NDIS plan goals and aspirations.

The move away from centralised funding to individualised funding was and is progressive.  Not only does it hand choice and control to the individual.  It also provides opportunities for innovation and competition for providers.  Traditional disability providers now have greater competition from new providers and existing providers who have diversified their services.  Like many sectors there are great providers and there are not so great providers. The latter do not last long.  NDIS participants are not fooled by over promising and under delivering.  They can choose to take their funding elsewhere if they are not satisfied with the supports being delivered.

Don’t Be A Fool + Overlook Canny Plan Management

Like a trusted friend, we are here to help you navigate and maximise your National Disability Scheme (NDIS) plan!  Our team are real people from real walks of life – just as you are!  We care about you and helping you achieve your goals and aspirations.

We provide a personal, independent non-biased and responsive service.  As a Canny Plan Management client, you will be allocated a personal Plan Manager, dedicated to helping you understand and manage your plan.  Your Plan Manager will listen to you to understand your individual circumstances and will work with you to maximise your NDIS funding.

When we decided to take the plunge and become registered with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) it was a long and rigorous process but on top of that we wanted to ensure that if we were going to do this that we were going to do this right and make sure that what we were offering, isn’t offered elsewhere.

We did the research, we had the focus groups to find out what the pain points.  We sat down with support coordinators, providers and most importantly NDIS participants to ensure that we were going to be able offer a service that would take away any doubt when we would proudly be chosen to be a partner with each and every participant of Canny Plan Management and ensure that we stayed true to our word.

By allowing yourself to have the choice and control for NDIS Plan Management and selecting Canny Plan Management, you are giving yourself the flexibility of choice and control in who you choose to provide and deliver your support service.  You won’t have to only use National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIS) registered providers.  You can also negotiate pricing below the NDIS capped prices and make value for money decisions in line with your plan to make the most of the supports that best suit your needs.

Working Together With Canny Plan Management

There is no cost to you!  NDIS Plan Management is a specific stated and funded support under Capacity Building and Improved Life Choices (Choice and Control).

If you have Plan Management in your current plan, you can contact us now to get it happening.  If you don’t have Plan Management in your current plan, you can request that it be included in your next plan at your NDIS Plan Review meeting.

Let us help you get back to enjoying the important things in life.  We are here to help and we are here to be by your side.  Get in touch today to find out how Canny Plan Management can help you achieve your goals on your NDIS plan and ensure that when it comes to your NDIS funding that you are covered with Fool Proof NDIS Plan Management – NDIS Help l Canny Group.

 

Anthea Taylor l Head of Canny Plan Management

How To Find A Good Business Lawyer

Business Lawyers Not Just For Big Business – Legal Advice l Canny Group

Business Lawyers… Not just for big business!

Small or big, every business needs a lawyer.  Why?  You may ask.  Business lawyers provide crucial assistance to protect and prosper your business, from protecting against basic copyright violations to helping you enter complex business contracts, business lawyers will assist you with all legal matters facing your business.  We have put together everything you need to take into consideration when choosing the right lawyer for your business needs, introducing, Business Lawyers Not Just For Big Business – Legal Advice l Canny Group.

Whilst understanding what business lawyers do and their importance is easy, choosing the perfect business lawyer for you may be somewhat a daunting and exhausting task.

SO… WHERE DO I START?

The first step to choosing the right business lawyer is to consider factors such as their qualifications, experience, reputation and personality.

Personal referrals provide some reliability and may be a good place to start, however, it is important to first consider the type of work conducted by the lawyer.  The lawyer that represented your friend in an employment matter may not be the best lawyer for your business.

WHAT ARE THEIR QUALIFICATIONS + EXPERIENCE?

Australian lawyers must be registered to practice law in Victoria and even if a lawyer is not listed as an accredited specialist in the area of business or commercial law it does not mean they are not experienced in that field.

The best business lawyers will have extensive experience in the specific area your business needs help in.

If you are unsure about which area your business needs help in or want a general business lawyer to help with future legal issues, consider comparing business lawyers in your area to determine which lawyer can offer the most effective services.  Perhaps you could ask the lawyer for examples of where they have assisted clients in the same industry as yours determine their reputation and experience.

Considering asking the following questions to determine their level of experience and suitability to your business:

  • What areas of law do you help most of your clients with?
  • What is the size and industry of your typical business law client?
  • How long have you been practicing business law?
  • If there are other lawyers working on my matter, what are their primary areas of practice?

IS BIGGER ALWAYS BETTER?

Large law firms generally have a wide range of team members who have had experience in a variety of different matters, but this also means they have lots of clients they need to divide their time between.  If you are seeking a personalised services that prioritises your business, it may be beneficial to choose a smaller firm as they are likely to devote more time to working on your business and are able to provide a more personalised service.

There are pros and cons of both large and small firms.  It may be useful to consider the type of legal matters you will need to discuss with your lawyer and compare this to experience that lawyer can provide for you.

You may want to inquire about their current workload and how much time they can commit to you and your business.  This will give you a better understanding about the type of service you will be receiving.

WHAT ARE THE LEGAL STEPS INVOLVED IN MY MATTER?

If you have a specific legal issue, it is important to ask what legal steps are involved in your matter.  The lawyer is unlikely to give you a precise answer, however, it will give you an idea of the time required to finalise your matter, the information you will need to provide and the costs associated with the work that will be undertaken by the lawyer.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

It is also important to ask the lawyer if they have any conflicts of interest with your business.  if the lawyer has several clients within the same business industry, there is a possibility that the lawyer may have represented one of your suppliers or competitors creating a conflict of interest.

Lawyers have a responsibility to not create a conflict of interest between any new client and past or current clients.  That way, all parties are represented equally and the service provided is not tainted with confidential information.

PERSONALITY

Once you have determined which firm or lawyer you would like to engage the next step is to determine if your lawyer’s personality will be suited to you and your needs.

Not only must your lawyer understand and be willing to learn about your business, their personality and style must match yours so that your instructions and their advice is understood by you.  It is vital that you feel comfortable with your attorney and their style of work.

Another important consideration is the lawyers level of professionalism.  Professionalism is more than providing prompt responses to your emails and returning your phone calls.  Your lawyer must be well prepared and work zealously to protect and grow your business, providing timely and accurate advice.

Avoid basing your decision on a phone call and consider meeting the lawyer in person.  During your consultation pay close attention to their professionalism and communication and that they have understood your needs and instructions.

FEE STRUCTURE

We all know lawyers can be expensive and if you are a small business owner this could be one of your main concerns.  For this reason, it is important to discuss the fess structure with your potential business lawyer.

If you intend to work on several legal issues, ask if they are willing to charge a lower rate for increased volume of work and whether there are any additional charges for administration work such as postage and access to external resources.

Lawyers are required to provide you with a costs disclosure outlining expected costs; however, this is an estimate only and other costs may be added as the matter progresses.  Costs can be increased for unexpected work that needs to be completed or if you change your instructions.

CANNY LEGAL + YOUR BUSINESS NEEDS

The best business lawyer is the lawyer you feel most comfortable sharing your private information with and welcoming them to become part of your business.

We understand that running a business can be extremely successful.  Canny Group is able to offer their clients a cohesive service where clients have access to our lawyers, accountants, financial advisors and our NDIS plan managers.  Our team of professionals work together to ensure our clients receive the most efficient and effective advice to grow and protect all aspects of your business.  Our priority is to ensure clients receive high quality and stress-free advice.

Get in touch with our Legal team today for a free consultation to discuss your business plans and to find out how we can help you!

 

Malsha Fernando – Law Clerk

Katherine Taylor – Solicitor l BCriminology (History), LLB

Archive Wine Bar

Archive Wine Bar Wine Drinking Experience – Client Insider l Canny Group

 

IN YOUR OWN WORDS… what is Archive Wine Bar?

With over 150 wines by the glass, Archive offers a wine drinking experience you cannot find elsewhere.  All wine drinkers, from to those with a casual interest through to enthusiasts and Sommeliers will find something they love at Archive.  Unlike other wine bars, you will never get tired of our wine list!

HOW DID ARCHIVE WINE BAR COME ABOUT + to life?

Our business partners, Ray and Maree of Lethbridge Wines, purchased an existing wine bar and then approached us to help create something special.

Graham and I (like most people) always had a dream of owning our own wine bar one day, so we certainly had some ideas.  With our combined experience in the wine industry and my background in delicatessens, Archive is the expression of everything we love about wine and food.

Our children were young at the time so we also wanted to create a space that we would want to be in – Archive has a beautiful garden where families can relax while enjoying an amazing wine selection, delicious grazing platters and exceptional service.

HOW LONG HAS ARCHIVE WINE BAR BEEN UP + running for?

We opened Archive in August of 2018 and have been enjoying a nice pace of growth since then, particularly after lockdown when our garden area really started to get some attention!

EVERYBODY HAS SOMETHING… what do you love about your job?

I love working with Graham every day.  We have complimentary skill sets and a never-ending passion for food and wine, so things are never boring.

I also love working for myself and the flexibility this provides for my family.  My last job was in a government agency and the hours were long and stress levels high, so this opportunity enabled me to take more control of my working life.

WOULD YOU SAY YOUR JOB IS EXCITING… or do you just spend your days pouring glasses of wine?

Ha ha!  I actually do more of the administration and strategic planning for our businesses now so the only wine I pour is for myself!

I love my job and can make it as exciting as I can handle (at any particular moment) as there is never any shortage of great ideas floating around.

WHAT DOES A DAY IN YOUR SHOES at Archive Wine Bar look like?

I also administer another business called The Geelong Wine School too, so I am usually making sure our students are looked after, I’m checking in on my staff at Archive, and I’m following up on leads for our businesses.

Right now I’ve been working hard to help establish the Belmont Traders Inc, our new local business association, and applying for grants to hold a community event in Belmont next year.

EVERY BUSINESS NEEDS AN ADVISOR… who do YOU turn to for help +/or advice?

Amanda Wilkens has been amazing at helping Graham and I shape our thinking for a secure future for our family and businesses.

I first heard Mandy share her experiences of being a woman and young mother in business at a networking event and have since developed a deep regard and trust for Mandy.

So even on a personal level, I have taken advice from Mandy and her experiences to make sure I can maintain a family and work balance that helps me approach difficult situations with a positive and resilient mindset.

WE HEARD ON THE GRAPEVINE… that you have been doing some very exciting things, what is planned for the future of Archive Wine Bar?

We tried to use our time in lockdown effectively and put our staff and ourselves to work on a new functions space in the shed at the back of our garden.

We are very excited to have this lovely new space that is weatherproof, and our customers have been enjoying it too.

Graham has started hosting his monthly wine tasting events in the ‘Shed’ and we look forward to hosting many parties and work functions in this unique, comfortable and relaxed space once people feel like it is safe to start planning these kinds of events again.

OK, NOW I’M THIRSTY… how do I get in contact +/or find out more about Archive Wine Bar?

You can visit our website archivewinebar.com.au to find out more, view our menus, check out our upcoming events, make a reservation or functions enquiry.

Archive Wine Bar Wine Drinking Experience – Client Insider l Canny Group

Our Women In Accounting, The Roadblocks + Their Advice

Our Women In Accounting Share Roadblocks + Advice l Canny Group

 

This 8th of March 2021 marks the 110th anniversary of International Women’s Day – a day celebrated throughout the world in a myriad of ways.  We wanted to showcase the amazing women that we have in our office (and running it) by letting you get to know our accounting team who are women.  We have put together this blog post with the hope that it will help you overcome any roadblocks and take on some advice if you’re looking to break into the world of accounting, introducing, Our Women In Accounting Share Roadblocks + Advice l Canny Group.

In China, the day is celebrated similar to Mother’s Day by showering loved ones with gifts and thanks whereas women in Italy are encouraged to embark on women-only adventures and celebrate with other women in the region while leaving others behind. And in other countries, the day is marked for demonstrations and protests like the upcoming scheduled protest against the Miss World contest in the United Kingdom.

This year at Canny Group we wanted to shine some light on our very own International Women.  We as a team want to celebrate International Women’s Day 2021 by spotlighting the women accountants in our office and finding out how they achieved success, what hurdles they faced along the way and what advice would they have to give to other accountants who are up-and-coming and looking to break into the amazing world of accounting.

These are our Women that we are celebrating this International Women’s Day!

Krystine Canny-Smith l Director

What was the road you took to become the accountant you are today?

Okay, here is my story. I didn’t complete Year 12. There had been a lot of other things going on in my life and study wasn’t a priority. After working for seven years, I decided I would like to study commerce. I applied as a mature age student and wasn’t offered a place even though I got a high score on the mature age tests (at that time they were called STAT tests).

I went into Deakin University and just arrived at the door of the selector. After speaking with him, he offered me a place on the spot. I loved University and found that I was an academic in the right environment and ended up winning awards on graduation.

Have you found any roadblocks along the way that relate to being a woman?

The biggest roadblock I found was having children and making my family a priority. I was fortunate as I worked at our office at Canny Group, and we, at Canny Group, endeavor to assist our team to make family a priority. So, I was able to bring my kids to work, work remotely and adjust my hours as needed. I would be a liar if I said it was easy though. I have had many nights with broken sleep and then trying to work through a full day. It is my memories of this that drive me to help parents to work and be productive while also having a balanced family life.

I know there are lots of roadblocks for other professional women. I have seen it with friends who are forced back to full-time work after having children with no flexibility and with employers who don’t value caring for children highly. I have also seen women who receive lower wages be written off as only deserving of lower wages because they took time to raise kids and prioritise family. These sorts of situations just cement my resolve to ensure that women I work with are treated equally and allowed to thrive.

Do you have any advice to up-and-coming accountants today?

My advice to up-and-coming accountants is to be persistent. If you receive a no, it is just a step on the way to yes. That doesn’t mean it will magically happen or is easy – it just means that you go back and work harder, work differently and keep at it until you achieve what it is you are striving to achieve. If I had accepted that I didn’t receive an offer for a university place, I would not be where I am today.

 

Amanda Wilkens l Director

What was the road you took to become the accountant you are today?

I left high school and went straight to university – a gap year was not even heard of then.  Deakin University was in its formative years at the time, and I had done very well in all the science subjects, so I enrolled to study Nutrition. I loved university life, but the only thing I did well was going to parties.

After my marks took a dive, I decided to change to Commerce, and I left university and went to the Gordon TAFE to study bookkeeping. I found this very easy, and it made perfect sense to me. Then I decided to apply for a job as an accountant even though I wasn’t qualified.

I got the job anyway. There was no mentoring, no training – I just taught myself.

I married, had two children, and moved away from Geelong while I went back to university to complete my degree on campus part-time. I then fell pregnant with my third child and used to sneak one daughter into lectures and bribe her with food to keep her quiet.

I completed my final exams at home under supervision having given birth two months prior, so that I could feed the baby in between exams. All the children came to work with me, and, at one stage, I had a cot in my office.

This sounds great, but it was not ideal. I was very lucky though to have the flexibility to do it, so that I could continue with my career whilst being a hands-on parent at the same time.

Have you found any roadblocks along the way that relate to being a woman?

When I first started working, even though I was employed to prepare financial statements as an accountant, it was me who was told to manage the reception counter and answer the phones when our receptionist was sick or on leave – because I was a girl. There was a junior male accountant in the office at the same time as me, but no one would have considered asking him. That was not work for a man!

Overall though, I have not had too many road blocks – I just developed a thick skin and didn’t let anything stop me in what really was a ‘man’s world’ in the 80s and 90s. It is so different now with so many women studying and working in the accounting industry.

Do you have any advice to up-and-coming accountants today?

My advice would be to take your time and learn the fundamentals of accounting. This is not taught so much at university these days, and I find that young accountants can use a software program but do not understand the logic behind it. Accounting, of course, is not just about numbers.

Make sure you are widely read and be interested in what is happening in the economy of the world and how this impacts upon what goes on in our own country. Be interested in the people you meet – everyone has something to teach you!

 

Fenting Lin l Accountant

What was the road you took to become the accountant you are today?

I came to Australia after completing Year 11 in China and went to Gordon TAFE in Geelong to study English. I had to pick a subject from the skilled migration board to study afterwards. There were not many to choose from at the time, and my parents suggested that I might be interested in studying Accounting as I was ok with numbers. Little did we know Accounting is not so much about numbers, but I survived!

After completing the Advanced Diploma at Gordon TAFE, I went straight to Deakin University to finish my Bachelor in Commerce, majoring in Accounting. I then went on to complete the CPA after joining Canny Group full time in 2015.

Have you found any roadblocks along the way that relate to being a woman?

I have not really had major roadblocks due to being a woman apart from changing my full-time work to very part-time to accommodate for my young child. I have been lucky during my working life, before and after having my family, by being given flexibility to work when I can.

I have also seen some of my friends who have had to give up their jobs after giving birth to their first child and unable to return to work for a long period of time. When they eventually decided to go back, there were not many options to choose from because they could not commit to set days/times.

Do you have any advice to up-and-coming accountants today?

I have enjoyed working as an accountant, and it is a very broad industry. Being in the public practice accounting firm, you will get to know a lot of useful information which could apply to you, your life and your circumstances. You’ll never stop learning, that’s for sure!

 

Gabriella Gibney l Senior Accountant

What was the road you took to become the accountant you are today?

My father is a Chartered Accountant and his accounting work with KPMG saw him seconded from Northern Ireland to South Africa and then eventually to Australia. I guess going through high school I always had in my mind that the Accounting/Finance Industry was BIG, it was global and it had a lot of paths. I think because of this I decided in VCE that I would like to do Commerce as it opened up so many opportunities.

When I finished my VCE, I decided to leave all my friends behind (they were all going to Bendigo University) and go off alone to Geelong to study Commerce at Deakin University. The course seemed quite broad, and I liked the idea of being able to choose what I majored in. I ended up majoring in Accounting, Finance and Commercial Law, and I started working in a Public Accounting Firm in Geelong while in my last semester. I then went on to complete my Chartered Accountants Grad Diploma all while working full time. Completing this was a huge achievement as was a lot of hard work and commitment.

Have you found any roadblocks along the way that relate to being a woman?

I haven’t really had any specific roadblocks in my journey as a woman, but I have observed some struggles some other women have faced such as a lack of promotion to senior/management positions in largely male dominated firms or lack of flexibility when it comes to family commitments. I guess before I had children, I did wonder how my career in the Accounting Industry would be impacted. I guess for me I am truly lucky to be in a firm that embraces family first, and I think the Industry itself has come a long way. Women can absolutely have a family and a career.

Do you have any advice to up-and-coming accountants today?

My advice to up-and-coming accountants is to just really think of the opportunities that accounting can provide as accounting is so diverse. Just know that you can take many different paths and you really will learn so much once you start working in a practical role.

  

Helen Yau l SMSF Manager + Financial Advisor

What was the road you took to become the accountant you are today?

In high school, I enjoyed accounting as a subject so it was clear to me that I would go to University to study commerce. When I graduated from University, I initially worked for one of the Big 4 accounting firms at that time as an Auditor. It was not long until I realised that this was not something that I could see myself doing for the rest of my career, so I asked for a transition to work as Tax Accountant.

I enjoyed my work as an Accountant, so this led me to complete my Chartered Accountant Graduate Diploma. The change in legislation and my accounting experience then led to complete my Diploma of Financial Planning and become a Financial Adviser. I now have the joy of working as an Accountant and Financial Adviser.

Have you found any roadblocks along the way that relate to being a woman?

My roadblock was trying to find that balance between work and family. When my children were young, they were not well and required a lot of care, so I made the choice to reduce my work hours to care for my family. Some career women may find themselves putting their career on hold to raise their family. Fortunately for me, Canny Group were flexible and were able to cater to my changing circumstances. Personally, I did not feel a reduction in my work hours affected my career as I still had the environment to continue to grow as an Accountant and realise my potential. Finding that work life balance meant I could have a successful career and a happy family life.

Do you have any advice to up-and-coming accountants today?

There are many challenges that women may face in their career but your mental attitude to each challenge will have an impact on the outcome. If we can adopt a positive mindset and try to view our challenges as an opportunity to learn and to grow, we will more likely be able to face challenges with an “I can do it” spirit.

My other advice is, we should never feel we need to face challenges alone or have the answers to everything. It is ok to reach out for help and guidance along the way. This is not a reflection of our weakness but demonstrates that we recognise that we all are just humans and need the support of those who care about us.

 

Jamie Arrington l Accounting Manager + Senior Accountant

What was the road you took to become the accountant you are today?

When I was in high school back home in Ohio, I really gravitated towards two subjects – accounting and chemistry. I excelled in both and in my last year of high school, I studied and tested out of accounting part way through the year and took the other half of the year to tutor other students in my class while in chemistry, I took the tests and exams before other students in the class to keep up with my fast-paced learning.

When I went off to University in Ohio, I picked Bachelors of Science majoring in Accounting at Wright State University rather than a chemistry degree because my dad convinced me I would have an easier time finding and keeping a job in my adult life. Three and a half years after starting University, I was at a strange and fearful stage in my life and I decided to change my major from Accounting to Computer Science.

A year later, I met and fell in love with an Australian and made the very big decision to move to Australia. I attended the University of Newcastle, and I decided to go back to my accounting education. I graduated with a Bachelors of Commerce two years after moving and obtained my Diploma of Chartered Accountancy not too long after while working in Newcastle at a public practice accounting firm. I worked in Newcastle for about five years and in that last year, I got married, had a baby and decided to move to Ballarat to be closer to my daughter’s father’s family.

I have been with Canny Group since that move four years ago excluding a tiny blip of time I took to explore other avenues.

Have you found any roadblocks along the way that relate to being a woman?

When thinking of a response to this question, I was thinking of a way to answer it without mentioning my children – after all, women are much more than the children they do or do not have. But my life is so centered around having to care for them that I can’t honestly answer this question without them – they are my life. So, my biggest and most major roadblock in my career as a woman was trying to find that balance between caring for my children and continuing to advance in my career as a full-time accountant. It’s still a struggle to this day!

As others in this article have answered, I have been very lucky to work for two amazing women at Canny Group who understand, respect and trust me as an individual and allow me to continue advancing through my career while managing my tiny, beautiful family at home. I have worked for many amazing people in my life, but I don’t think I would be where I am today without Krys and Mandy.

I would also say that my partner’s work has also made this roadblock in my career a bit harder to budge – I don’t know how many times he has had to have a conversation with his bosses about taking some time off work to help care for our children. It is both disappointing and saddening that his workplace isn’t as understanding as mine.

Smaller roadblocks I face along the way before having children seem so small in comparison. When I was in university in Ohio, I had a professor, who owned her own accounting practice, say to our class that she would never consider a woman who didn’t wear a skirt to an interview for a role as it was unprofessional for women to wear pants. I made a mental note to never apply for a job at her firm. I can also remember a boss I worked for not long after graduating telling me to make sure I wore make-up the next day to a client meeting – I must have looked rough that day.

Do you have any advice to up-and-coming accountants today?

My advice to the up-and-coming accountants is take it a day at a time and remember to breath! I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t take a second, remember to breath and try not to get overwhelmed by all the … work! You will get there, just keep going. This has applied to all aspects of my life from family tragedy to my career to having a baby. Make it to the next day and keep going – keep chipping away at that iceberg.

 

We have a team of expert accountants under our roof who are more than happy to help you with any and all of your accounting needs.

Get in touch today, to find out how our team can help you!

 

 

Let’s Approach 2021 With A Different (Financial) Outlook

Approach 2021 With A Different (Financial) Outlook l Canny Group

2020 is finally over!  Many have described it as the longest 12 months, or a year to forget.  Worldwide pandemic, panic buying, high employment rates, lockdown restrictions, border closures, increased depression rates and stimulus payment sums up the 2020 year and it has affected every person in the nation.  Fortunately, compared to many other countries around the world, Australia has been relatively successful in battling the effects of Coronavirus.  Despite all the negatives of 2020, there is a positive side.  The extra time has given us the opportunity to stop, think, and review our situation, count our blessings and appreciate the people around us.

With the economy picking back up and the vaccine roll-out, we are hopeful that 2021 will be a better year.  2020 has taught us, it is possible to approach 2021 with a different outlook.  We can look for opportunities to focus on what we really want to achieve in our life and set some plans to get there.

As a woman in finance, I would like to share some of my tips with other women on how to look for opportunities to improve their financial situation.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF LOWER INTEREST RATES

Since 2011, interest rates in Australia have been on a decline.  Who would have imagined that we would see banks offering term deposit rates of 0.50% and home loan rates of around 2% or lower.  Why not take advantage of the low interest rate environment to improve your financial situation and reduce your debts.  Some opportunities include:

  • Refinance your debts!

Review your mortgage to see if you can get a better rate from your lender or refinance.  The market is very competitive and if you have a significant mortgage, just refinancing for a better rate, could result in paying less interest and paying off your mortgage faster.

If you have other debts such as a car loan or a credit card, perhaps you could shop around for a better deal.  By locking in a lower interest rate, it may be possible to reduce your loan repayments which will mean more in your pocket.

  • Buy a home!

If you would like to get into the property market to purchase your first home, perhaps now would be a good time to consider whether this is financially possible.  With the First Home Owners Grant and First Home buyers stamp duty reduction, this could be a big help in purchasing your first home.

  • Invest more!

If you are an investor, then lower interest rates may push you to consider other investment options that offer a higher return than cash.  Many people have commented that they saved money in 2020 since they could not travel or spend money, it may be an option to consider investing in some of those savings.

Another option is, rather than paying extra off your home loan, you may choose to use extra funding for investing.  This may be worthwhile if the return you are getting on your investment is higher than the interest rate on your home loan.

REVIEW YOUR SUPERANNUATION

Some people are clueless when it comes to how much they have in super, how it is invested and what fees they are paying.  One reason may be because they are unable to access their super until retirement or age 65, so their mindset is ‘out of sight out of mind’.  What they lose sight of is, superannuation is their money!  It is an investment for the future and the decisions you make now can have an impact on your retirement.

What to look for when you review your superannuation:

  • Investment Options

Your super fund will have a range of investment options.  These options could be cash, conservative, balanced, growth and high growth.  Each option will have a different investment mix and therefore different rates of return.  You need to choose the right investment option for you after considering your stage in life and what the level of risk is that you are willing to accept.

  • Super Contributions

If you are working, it is worth checking to see if your employer is paying the right amount of super for you.  If you have surplus income, you may want to make extra contributions to boost up your retirement savings and reduce your tax.

  • Super Fees

Are you aware of how much fees are deducted from your super balance each year?  Super Funds charge a range of fees which can include; administration fees, investment management fees, performance fees, advice fees, investment switching fees and buy/sell spread fees.  It is common just to look at the administration fees and forget about the rest.

The fees you pay today and over your working years can significantly affect your retirement savings.  As an example, if a 25 year-old has an average income of $61,984 and the average investment return was 6.85% per annum, by paying 0.75% on their account balance per year, they would have $135,802 more in retirement compared to if they paid 1.5% of their balance in fees.

DO YOU HAVE ANY INSURANCE?

According to one of the largest insurers in Australia, only half of Australian’s hold some form of life insurance and many are under-insured.  There is a major gender gap when it comes to life insurance and women.  A recent Finder study revealed that just 33% of women report having any life insurance at all, compared to 48% of men.

What is life insurance and why would you need to consider it?

The reason people take out life insurance is to ensure the family is financially protected in the event of death.  If you pass away and you had life insurance, a lump sum would be paid out that could cover any debts such as a mortgage and replace lost income so the family can continue their lifestyle.  You many think, this is fine if you are equal income earners in the family with your spouse or even the main income earner.  However, if as a women you are not the main breadwinner or you may not have any income as you are a stay-at-home mum, why would you require life insurance?

Did you know that you can list your occupation as a homemaker when applying for life insurance?  Insurers recognise there is value in the unpaid roles of a homemaker.  According to salary.com the value of a stay-at-home mum is $288,000 (US $178,201).

If you are a stay-at-home mum, have you thought about who is going to replace the work you do, or cover your spouse’s income because they had to stop work to care for family?  Having life insurance ensures your family receives a payout so they can pay for childcare, home maintenance, and whatever else you would have done at home full time.

IMPROVE YOUR FINANCIAL SITUATION

Why not use this year to review and improve your financial situation now and for the future?  By making small changes along the way, it can make the biggest different for your future.

Get in touch with our team of financial advisors today for a free 30 minute appointment to improve your financial situation.

 

Helen Yau l Manager + Financial Planner

CA, BCom, Dip Fp, SSA

A Vindication Of The Rights Of Women

A Vindication Of The Rights Of Women – Lawyer Geelong l Canny Group

Today we almost take for granted the legislative frameworks and social customs that support various women’s rights and freedoms, but it has not always been so.  There has been a dynamic struggle over the century that has become a dominant voice in our current times.  Back in 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft, a trailblazing advocate of implementing education and social equality for women, wrote down her political beliefs in her book A Vindication of the Rights of Women and has been described as the foremother of the struggle for the vote at a time when women were often considered inferior and not given more than a domestic education.  We have put together this blog post to show you the evolution of women’s rights over time and also how our expert legal team can assist all women in their business ventures, introducing, A Vindication Of The Rights Of Women – Lawyer Geelong l Canny Group.

The earlier protests and conventions gave way to organised feminist movements which gained pace and political leverage over the 19th and 20th centuries spanning into fields of philosophy focused on the perspective of gender and justice for women, challenging traditional ideas of knowledge and rationality as objective, universal or value neutral, arguing instead for the importance of relative social situations and values in generating knowledge and the conscious construction of normatively within social orders to share an individual’s reality.

Today, International Women’s Day continues the celebration of the manifestation of gender awareness and the upheaval and displacing of traditions that, in the context of national laws has supported the institutionalisation of such values in current legislation, including:

  • Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (VIC)
  • Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001
  • Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities
  • Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cwth)
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cwth)
  • Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cwth)
  • Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cwth)
  • Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cwth)

We could also add the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cwth) and the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 (Cwth) as examples of how state authorise have assumed and enveloped all manner of powers charged to regulate and implement these rights in law.

EQUALITY BEFORE THE LAW // the seeds of change

A central area of enquiry among political thinkers has been the traditional role of laws in enshrining classical liberal concepts of liberty, equality and fraternity based on foundations arising out of the Enlightening with changes in assumptions underpinning the structures of society with a growing awareness of individual freedoms and political authority.  The Enlightenment opened modern Western political and intellectual culture from which many subsequent fields of thought, including ideological antitheses of the liberal ideas that would consume much societal change and revolution.  Mary Wollstonecraft was one of England’s earliest feminist philosophers.  She argued for a society based on reason and that women as well as men should be treated as rational beings.  It was this era that brought into focus scientific empiricism and the ideal of advancement and progress and science that is so prevalent in today’s modernity with people largely emancipated from traditional roles by technology.

In England, Jeremy Bentham explored the rethinking of concepts about law in practice and changing laws to reflect what they ought to be, considering the rapid changes that called for equality between the sexes, arguing in favour of women’s suffrage, a women’s right to obtain a divorce, and a women’s right to hold political office.  On the other hand, Marxists postulated that law was the product of economic sources, controlled and tainted by the capitalists resulting in the subjugation of labour forces, but with predictions that historical struggles would usher in social revolutions.

THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF WOMAN // in an equal society

The rapid changes in society and the driving forces towards individual empowerment required the laws to keep up!  By the early 20th century, the seeds of change get into an active and consciously inclusive society, especially with respect to women’s rights.

In 1952, the United National Convention on the Political Rights of Women, was adopted providing that “women shall be entitled to vote in all elections on equal terms with men, without any discrimination“.  In 1902 (1962 for indigenous people) the Australian Federal Parliament legislated voting and standing rights for adult women.  These macro political endorsements of women’s rights were among the world in the developed Western World and throughout the 20th century most countries had adopted women suffrage in line with United Nations charters of human rights, irrespective of religions and culture.

Within these legislative frameworks, slowly but surely participation of women in public office and or political, intellectual, professional life was bound to directly implement reforms motivated by a strong sense of justice and championing of a fairer and better society.  Maybe the highpoint of the war social revision and individual freedom was the 1960s and 1970s recalled now as a distant beacon in global and economically integrated order, that we have seen in operation, particularly with responses to the outbreak of Covid-19.  Following the Covid-19 global crisis we are often reminded by our leaders, such as Mr Scott Morrison declaring that “we’ve got strong, we’re got more capable, and we’ve got better and better” and “we’ve learned, and we’ve learnt”.

In Victoria, women were permitted to practice law in 1903 and today in 2021 approximately 70% of law graduates are women.  Women of course, have embraced opportunities and today we see men and women serving as politicians, judges, lawyers and other professionals, business leaders and entrepreneurs, in defence forces as well as creating new sporting codes such as AFL Women’s Leagues which is normalised in the 21st century.  However, as s a modern realisation perhaps it would have been a cultural shock for a Mary Wollstonecraft had she had a crystal ball in 1792 since abstractions of gender equality have developed into gender equivalence with a striving competition to achieve.  A direct quote from an internet article headed “17 Australian Female Entrepreneurs Crushing It In 2021” by Anditya Gautam says “Australian entrepreneurship was once almost exclusively reserved for men.  Not anymore!  Now, female entrepreneurs are not only competing but also beating men at their own game.“. What have we learnt?  The resetting to a post Covid-19 environment and in a digitalised online market has forces us to abruptly rethink the way we do business.

CANNY LEGAL // helping women in business post Covid-19

Canny Legal prides itself on its socially progressive and inclusive workplace and celebrates the history of the growth of opportunities available to women.  We embrace change and innovation reinventing how we do business.

How can Canny Legal help its female clients in their pursuits of their business aspirations?

Laws are always changing, calling for ongoing review and consideration in how such changes affect our clients.  We cater for all aspects of business start-ups and steering established businesses to a projected growth path, clients can take advantage of our multi-advisory services including legal advice, financial planning, NDIS plan management and accounting at any stage in their life of an enterprise or the realisation of an asset.

We have seen, for example how some women can work from home and establish new businesses using social media and online platforms to brand in beautifully presented sweets and sides.  We have also noticed a burgeoning growth of businesses responding to an opportunity arising out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) which provides funding for participants with a disability with businesses catering for a range of taxpayer funded recreation health and disability services.

The fundamentals of economic and business consideration for achieving financial goals and strategies remains a process of review, discussion, and advice.

By engaging Canny Legal we can assist our clients in implementing their innovations and implementing their business ideas and plans by preparing trusts, leases, drafting equity agreements and employment contracts and protecting intellectual property and drawing up website user terms and conditions to suit their business model as well as response to the changing needs of the business or the requirements of their owners and staying up-to-date with legal developments.

On the other side of the coin, we can assist businesses in enforcing and protecting their legal rights, particularly when traditionally women may have been less inclined to do so, from debt recovered to seeking damages for breach of contract.  We can, in short make the law work for you with our skilled team of solicitors.  Get in touch today to find our how we can help you!

 

Richard Pinkstone l Canny Legal

PRINCIPAL SOLICITOR

BA, LLB

A Round Of Applause for Tilly Aston // Women + Disabilities

Celebrating Women + Disabilities – NDIS Plan Management l Canny Group

It is thanks to a woman that Australia introduced the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) to law.  As Australia’s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard championed the Bill and its passage through parliament to become legislation.  The National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 (Cth) was a game changer.

While Julia Gillard acted in her role as member of parliament, there have been many women championing the rights of people with disabilities in the years, decades and centuries before the NDIS.

GENDER + DISABILITY NO BARRIER

One in particular was Matilda (Tilly) Aston (1873 – 1947).  Tilly was a driving force for disability activism and the game changer of her time.  Long before the NDIS, Tilly, who was born with deteriorating vision and lost her sight at the age of seven, campaigned throughout her life for independence and social and economic participation, the provisions of reasonable and necessary supports, the pursuit of goals, the right to exercise choice and control, and raise community awareness.  All of which are cornerstones of the NDIS we see today.

Despite being born in the late 19th century, into a patriarchal and albeist society, where many people, including children with a disability were segregated and institutionalised, she did not let her disability, her gender or the social thinking of the day deter her.

Often referred to as ‘Australia’s Helen Keller’, who was also a friend and contemporary, Tilly achieved “firsts” not only in Australia but in some cases the world.  She played a fundamental role in progressive and lasting changes for people who were blind or low vision.

CREATING CHANGE

With an eagerness to learn and her strong confidence, at the age of nine Tilly left her family and home in Carisbrook Victoria to become a full-time boarding student at the Asylum and School for the Blind (later renamed Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind) in Melbourne.  It was here that Tilly started to come into her own.  Intellectually bright, she completed her schooling and achieved her senior school certificate.  This led to her passing the Matriculation Examination at the University of Melbourne, the first Australian blind woman to do so.  Unfortunately, the lack of text books in braille resulted in Tilly not being able to keep up her studies.  After two years she withdrew as she was not able to keep up with her fellow sighted students.  Although Tilly felt she had not only let herself down, but also her family, friends and supporters, the lack of braille books became the catalyst for her to establish the Victorian Association of Braille Writers and Library.  Founded in 1894, it continues to operate as the Vision Australia Library, a world leading accessible format library service for people with print disability.

Long before the slogan “nothing about us without us” became a motto of disability advocacy, Tilly firmly believed that “the only proper manager of affairs of people who were blind or had low vision, were those people themselves.”  With that, in 1895, she formed the Association of the Blind (AAB), an organisation that was governed and operated by and for people who were blind or low vision.  After name changes and merges, it still continues today in the form of Vision Australia.

WORLD-WIDE CHANGE

With the founding of the two major and influential Associations, Tilly continued to advocate for equitable services.  Through the AAB, Tilly led significant changes that would also influence similar changes around the world.

  • In 1899, The Victorian Railways agreed to freight braille books to readers at no charge, enabling wider distribution and access of the braille library’s collection.
  • In 1901, the discriminatory travel bond ended which had prevented people who were blind or low vision from leaving Victoria unless they paid a £400 bond.  An unfair, exorbitant and unrealistic amount at the time, if this bond was required in 2021, with the average inflation of 3.7% over the past 120 years, the amount payable would be $62,844!  This is more than the average total funding in NDIS plans.
  • In 1902, following convincing lobbying, the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902 granted people who were blind the right to vote in federal elections.  The right was implicit in that it did not explicitly disqualify them as it did for persons of unsound mind, committed treason, convicted of a punishable offence and imprisoned for longer than one year or be an Aboriginal native of Australia, Asia, Africa, or the Pacific Islands, excluding New Zealand.  It was though the same Act, that women were also granted the right to stand for and vote in federal elections.  However, the right to vote in Victorian state elections was not afforded to people who were blind until 1909.
  • In 1902, free Mail for the Blind postage was introduced.  A world first and adopted internationally, it continues today and includes braille, large print and audio items and equipment.
  • In 1910, a pension became available to anyone over the age of 16 who was permanently blind and not already receiving an old age pension.
  • In 1913, following teacher training, Tilly was appointed as Head of the Victorian Education Department’s School for the Blind.  This was not without criticism and objection from staff and officials of RVIB due to her disability and connection to AAB.

During her lifetime, she was formally recognised for her achievements having been awarded the Awarded King’s Medal and Distinguished Citizenry in 1935 and 1937.  Posthumously the recognition is in the form of cairns, monuments, inclusions in honour rolls, and the naming of a federal electorate.

TILLY ASTON, TODAY!

Tilly Aston was more than a game changer.  She is a role model, one who inspires and one to aspire to.  Her strength and tenacity deserves to be acknowledged and celebrated not only on International Women’s Day, but all year round.  If she were alive today, she would applaud the ethos of the NDIS, and the options it provides participants, including NDIS Plan Management, enabling choice and control.  She would applaud Canny Plan Management’s support and advocacy for not only its NDIS participant clients, but all the people with disabilities and their support networks.

Canny Plan Management - Registered NDIS Plan Management providers, Tilly Aston Circa 1890s

Image: Tilly Aston (circa 1890s)

Source: Vision Australia Heritage Collection: Victorian Collections

NDIS PLAN MANAGEMENT with Canny Plan Management!

Get in touch if you would like to know more about Canny Plan Management, and how we support NDIS participants with managing their funding through their plans – we are are the registered NDIS Plan Managers you need to have working with you.

 

Anthea Taylor // Canny Plan Management

Little Constructions

Little Constructions l Design + Construct

With a mission to work closely with clientele, guiding them through the build process, identify their needs and desires to ensure that their dream home is being built just as imagined – it’s no wonder that Little Constructions is taking the building industry by storm.  Pouring love into each of the 12 – 15 projects they are taking on each year and capped at that number, really proves that Mark and his team surpass their clients expectations and the commitment to each project is personalised to deliver a quality, unique home within the time and budget allocated.

Mark has been a member of Master Builders since 1998, when he joined as a student, and the many services, training and awards programs offered at that time helped him to grow both personally and professionally.  Mark started on the Geelong Section Committee, moving up to Chair, and volunteered time to help judge the Master Builders Apprentice of the Year Awards.  From there he became a representative of the Country Sector Committee, where he is now Chair, and he also currently serves on the Council of Management Board – “it’s a privilege to be involved with Master Builders at this level and while juggling time is a constant, the experience is really rewarding”.

Introducing, Mark Little – Owner and Founder of Little Constructions l Design + Construct

IN YOUR OWN WORDS… what is Little Constructions?

We are a small Geelong Based residential building company, specialising in design and construction of acreage homes.

HOW DID LITTLE CONSTRUCTIONS COME ABOUT… + come to life?

We saw an opening in the market back in 2013 as the Geelong area had/has the most acreage land to be released as anywhere else in Victoria and from there Little Constructions was born.

HOW LONG HAS LITTLE CONSTRUCTIONS BEEN UP + RUNNING for?

After developing my trade skills in carpentry and becoming a registered builder, I thought it was time to take the leap to start my own business and from there Little Constructions came to life back in 2004.

EVERYONE HAS SOMETHING… what do YOU love about your job?

Building homes for our clients but also the different homes and their different locations.

IS YOUR JOB EXCITING… or do you just build houses day in + day out?

I still love the challenges that our industry offers.  There is not a week that goes by when something new doesn’t pop up and challenge us and this is what I like to call “the building industry factor”

EVERY BUSINESS NEEDS AN ADVISER… who do you turn to for help?

Adam from the Accounting team and Richard from the Legal team – they are my go to advisers, whenever I need them!  Canny’s newsletters have often saved us a phone call or an e-mail as they are very informative!

TAKING A LOOK INTO YOUR FUTURE… what’s planned for Little Constructions?

To be honest, nothing too exciting!  I’ve capped our business at 12-15 new homes per year to ensure that we consistently deliver a product and experience that we’re proud of.

We also want to keep our momentum going.  It takes A LOT to build momentum, but not a lot to keep it going.  We’re in the early stages of planning our next Display Home as well as looking as possible locations AND floor plans!

HOW DO I GET IN CONTACT… find out more + check out the work of Little Constructions?

Checkout out website, follow our socials..

WEB // www.littleconstructions.com.au

SOCIALS // Facebook, Instagram, Houzz + LinkedIn

Give us a call at the office +03 5298 3413 or our New Homes Consultant, Ian on 0478 686 985

Visit out Display Home: 1 Farrer Drive (801 Hendymain Road), Moriac and pop in and say g’day at our new office location, Unit 3, 145-147 Victoria Street North Geelong