Despite a record net profit before tax of $21.8 million (up 67 per cent), and a 35 per cent increase in earnings per share, the Countplus network drew attention to a challenging environment that has continued to stall significant growth in the accounting sector.
"The company’s flat net revenue reflects continued subdued trading conditions in the accounting/ business services area,” Countplus said.
The launch of two growth initiatives, BLUE789 and ADVICE389, represents an attempt to increase investment in accounting and financial planning businesses through a shared equity model, in contrast to 100 per cent outright ownership, a move which Countplus has identified as a key to success moving forward.
Despite increased shareholding in the network's largest associate, Hood Sweeney (26 per cent to 32 per cent following a share buyback), Countplus has been stalled by the goodwill impairment of two accounting businesses, and the "disposal" of another firm “due to the focus not being aligned”.
While accounting growth suffered setbacks, the network lauded the “outstanding investment” in Class Limited following a successful IPO, and the continued growth of financial planning investment, identifying Total Financial Solutions as one of the group’s best performers, and making particular note of the 40 per cent stake in inaugural firm Hunter Financial Planning under the ADVICE389 initiative.
In addition to the delivery of financial results, Countplus indicated that two new directors – Alison Ledger and Matthew Rowe – have been announced and will take up their roles on 1 October 2016; Phillip Rix will stand down at the 2016 AGM and will continue to lead Bentleys WA as the firm’s managing principal in Perth; and finally, Countplus chairman Barry Lambert has also indicated his intention to retire at or before the 2017 AGM.