Helen Reeves – retiring the red pen

Helen Reeves is a stickler for accuracy with a knack for numbers – little wonder then that she wound up a senior manager at Moore Markhams Wellington.

After 35 years at the firm she is stepping back into a casual role and admits some trepidation at the prospect of so much free time. 

“I like to have a purpose, so I am going to have to find some new hobbies.”

Helen worked as an accounting clerk for LJ Hunter for 18 months before it was bought in 1985 by Mason King – a precursor to Moore Markhams Wellington.

Before that she worked as an accounting machine operator at a customs agent in Wellington and held various bookkeeping roles in her native Britain. She completed a Bachelor of Business through the Open Polytechnic in 1997, while also working full-time and raising two teenage daughters as a solo parent. She was accepted into Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand as a chartered accountant in October 1997.

She progressed through the ranks at Moore Markhams to become a senior manager overseeing more junior accountants, reviewing their work to ensure accuracy and training staff in account preparation.

“I really enjoy making sure things are correct and drilling down into things that don’t look right.

“We want accurate information going out to clients and whoever might be looking at their financials. We want to make sure we get the best tax position for them or, as an example, the best information for bankers providing finance. We want to make sure we are giving the best service we can, and the most accurate accounts.”

The profession has changed hugely over 35 years, she says. The advent of technology has improved the service accountants can provide.  Clients’ financials are now “in the cloud” - or online - and easily accessed. 

“There’s a lot less paper now, but more processes we carry out through software packages to make sure we’re doing things consistently and nothing is overlooked.”

The rise of email and accounting software has meant less face to face time with clients and less need for traditional bookkeeping work, although Moore Markhams continues to focus on building strong relationships and growing its business advisory services, she says.

Helen began reducing her workload a few years ago, and from last July has been working three days a week. She will remain on the Moore Markhams team as a casual, on-call consultant. 

She will miss the clients - some of whom have been with the firm nearly as long as she has - and the team at Moore Markhams, she says.

“We have a great office culture. They are a very family-oriented firm, and they care about staff having good work-life balance. They are very focused on providing the best service to clients but it’s not to the detriment of staff. They listen to what we have to say.”

Helen is a regular gym-goer, teaches rock and roll dancing at the Kapi Mana Rock n Roll Club, and has recently begun ballroom dancing lessons.

Travel is on the cards, with trips to Scotland, Europe, South America, South Africa and the Pacific Islands on the wish list, she says.

“My partner and I want to get out and see more of the world while we’re still able to go under our own steam. Genealogy is always something I’ve been vaguely interested in, so maybe I’ll get into that too.”

Retirement will take some getting used to, Helen says, although she won’t miss the 6.30am start and 55-minute commute from her home in Papakowhai.  “I’ll really enjoy my lie-ins.”