I worked on... Launching an accountancy practice in Canada

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Name: Kanish Thevarasa FCMA, CGMA

Organisation: Kanish & Partners

Job: Managing Partner

CIMA qualified: 1984

Start date: 2000

End date: Ongoing

Location: Toronto, Canada

I began to pursue my CIMA designation in Sri Lanka in 1978, recognising both my commercial acumen and a growing demand for accountants with management skills after the nation’s economic liberalisation the previous year.

I became an ACMA in 1984 after completing my practical experience requirement and moved to Canada the following year, where I joined a public practice in downtown Toronto.

I was made a partner in that firm in 1996, but I felt that starting my own business would be more professionally fulfilling, so I co-founded one in 2000. I am managing partner of Kanish & Partners, a firm of chartered accountants and business advisers providing assurance, tax, finance and consultancy services. Our clients are mainly owner-managed SMEs and large not-for-profit organisations. Most are based in and around Toronto, but a number also have operations in the US, Europe and East Asia.

I had always been confident in my analytical skills. In particular, my ability to solve problems was highly appreciated by my clients, who supported me in starting my own practice. It was challenging at the beginning for me to meet the needs of all my clients while also networking to find new ones and establish links with other professionals. The tasks of developing skills such as communication, workflow management and team-building needed to be balanced with the demands of family life, too.

There’s no doubt that the knowledge I have gained from taking the CIMA qualification has been a big factor behind the success of our firm. Although I’m also a chartered accountant in Canada, CIMA has given me the edge in terms of my ability to take an issue, apply tools such as relevant costing and arrive at a practical solution that really helps the client. This is why our firm has a large consulting division that specialises in strategic growth and corporate finance, enabling us to provide more than the conventional accounting services.

I was the first member of CIMA in North America to receive its silver medal and was Toronto’s and, eventually, Canada’s branch president for more than a decade. During my tenure, the branch came up with various PR activities designed to raise awareness of the qualification. These culminated in the creation of a cricket tournament that’s attended every year by the mayor of Toronto and the president of CIMA.

I have a good team of people with a shared vision. My next task will be to grow the practice and help our middle managers to emulate the present partners and eventually take over. I have always wanted to impart the knowledge and wealth I have acquired to empower people around me, so that they can improve professionally and give back to the community. This has led to my work with the local CIMA branch and my involvement with charities, a local hospital and a community association, either as a board member or as an adviser. All members of our firm are encouraged to make similar contributions.

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