BEYOND NUMBERS: Carolyn Richardson remembers when her desk was littered with papers, ledgers and an adding machine, but says it's the clients that have made her past 40 years as an accountant really enjoyable.
BEYOND NUMBERS: Carolyn Richardson remembers when her desk was littered with papers, ledgers and an adding machine, but says it's the clients that have made her past 40 years as an accountant really enjoyable.

Accountant Carolyn has the right balance for work and life

TOOWOOMBA accountant Carolyn Richardson reckons she's got the balance sheet pretty right when it comes to work and life.

After 40 years on the job, 22 of them with Cheesman Applegarth and partners, she still enjoys going in to work each day.

But at 60, she also enjoys doing decoupage and silversmithing in her down time, as well as relaxing with a good book or watching a movie, not to mention playing with her one-year-old grandson and spending time with family.

"We're not here for a long time, so you have to enjoy it," Carolyn philosophised.

While she never doubted her choice of career, which she still recommends to those interested in maths, Carolyn said things had certainly changed since she graduated from what was then Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education, now USQ, back in 1976.

She remembers, not always fondly, the days of writing everything by hand in spreadsheets, using the old adding machine with its "never-ending roll of paper" and, on days when things didn't balance, spending hours pouring back over figures to work out if and when the wrong number had been hit on the adding machine.

"I definitely embrace the electronic age. Things now are a lot simpler," Carolyn laughed, speaking from her desk, where three computer screens and online files have replaced pens and paper ledgers and "shoeboxes crammed with receipts".

Carolyn was the first female accountant at the firm, which she returned to in a senior role in 1995 after a stint out west and at another Toowoomba business.

While it had been more common when she was studying for girls to do shorthand and typing courses or choose the family path, Carolyn said she was happy she had been able to do both, and to spend most of her life in the Darling Downs which she loves and where she was born and bred.

"I do enjoy it. I've met some wonderful people - clients, colleagues and bosses.

"You get to know what's happening in clients' lives, even though you might only see them every 12 months, and you form some really good relationships," Carolyn said.

"That level of trust and those personable relationships are always enjoyable."

With tax time approaching, Carolyn advised retirees or those in transition to retirement to make sure they were aware of the significant changes in superannuation coming into effect from July 1.

"Everyone's situation is different - what they want and what they need - but it is a good idea to call your financial advisor and make sure your level of contributions and investments are right for you, especially with these changes," Carolyn said.

Planning ahead for retirement and putting a little extra away where possible was important, but while you can do a lot of research these days online, Carolyn advised to use this only as background knowledge and to talk to a trusted financial advisor.

"Not everything you read on the net is correct ... or correct for you," she said.


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