When Stuart (Stu) Wise graduated high school, he didn’t know anything about accounting. Ten years later, accounting found him — and he’s loving it. We caught up with Stu, a Business Advisor with MNP’s Private Enterprise team, to discuss how he helps business owners in Campbell River succeed.
Did you always want to become an accountant?
I didn’t. When I came out of high school, I wanted to be a teacher. I earned a Bachelor of Education at the University of Victoria and went into the workforce as a high school teacher. I soon realized I wanted to do something different with my life.
I didn’t know anything about what an accountant did until I did a vocational assessment and the results correlated so highly with accountancy that I said, let’s see if there’s something here. I found it fit my interests, aptitudes and experience very well. I earned my diploma in accounting at the University of British Columbia, joined MNP in 2007 and have never looked back.
What is your role with MNP?
I work directly with local business owners to help them improve their operations and achieve their business goals. My clients are in a range of industries, but I have a strong focus on forestry because of the prevalence of the industry here. Forestry provides a bit of a heartbeat for Campbell River and the Island, so it’s exciting to be part of it.
I help my clients with anything they need. They come to me with questions, issues they’re facing, and ideas they want another opinion on, so I help them navigate both the big strategic business decisions and the day-to-day. I get to be that other person in the room to help them get to where they want to be, while assisting them with where they are right now.
What is the biggest concern you’re hearing from clients today?
Retention and attraction of employees. It’s such a competitive labour market right now. My clients are struggling to attract and retain good people they can trust. We’re having a lot of conversations about what they must do to make their business stand out so that people want to come and work with them and stay for the long term.
As a business advisor, what’s the number one piece of advice you’re giving your clients right now?
A lot of my conversations are about succession. Do you know what your plan is when you’re ready to retire? Is this a saleable business? Will the business be transitioned to the next generation or to the employees? Is this something you’re doing to just get you to retirement and then you’re calling it a day and closing shop? These are questions a lot of clients are addressing right now.
What do you like best about your work?
I like the people — working with the clients and being part of their business. I enjoy being their trusted advisor and coming up with ideas that maybe they hadn’t considered previously. It’s a privileged role. You hear a lot of things from people that you wouldn’t expect. You’d think it would be all finance but it’s not; a lot about a client’s personal life, and how it intersects with the business, comes into the conversations we have.
What do you do for fun?
I play men’s league hockey and would love to golf more frequently. We have such a vibrant outdoors that you can go in any direction and get something different, whether you’re on the ocean, off in the woods, or up on a mountain.
It sounds like nature is one of the best things about living in Campbell River.
Yes, nature and everything that Campbell River has to offer. It’s a great place to live, and I love being a part of the community and serving my clients.