Fergus Cleaver – Partner at Cleaver Partners, Auckland

Fergus Cleaver is a New Zealand-based accountant with more than a decade of Fergus Cleaverexperience in the field. He is a shareholder in Auckland-based Cleaver Partners and an effective advocate for dozens of clients, including some of New Zealand’s top corporate names.

Cleaver grew up on New Zealand’s North Island. He attended the University of Auckland, where he majored in business and minored in economics. He then moved halfway across the world to British Columbia, Canada, to study graduate-level economics at Simon Fraser University. He attended Simon Fraser for a year on a partial scholarship, immersing himself in Canadian culture and embracing the rigorous study of economics. Cleaver also improved his skiing skills on the slopes near the university, which he calls “some of the finest in the world.”

Upon returning to New Zealand, Fergus Cleaver accepted an entry-level position with his family’s accounting firm. In that first pivotal role, he put the reams of knowledge he’d absorbed in undergraduate and graduate study to work in the service of a diverse roster of clients. He credits the experience as an invaluable practical introduction to the oftentimes theoretical world of accounting and business financing.

“I applied myself at university and feel that I received a first-rate education, but nothing can prepare you for the reality of serving clients like actually serving clients,” says Cleaver. “With no disrespect to my outstanding instructors, I learned more during my first year on the job than in the half-decade I spent earning my degrees.”

Cleaver’s dedication to his craft paid off in 2013, when he became an equity partner at Cleaver Partners.

“By virtue of New Zealand’s modest size, our larger clients must do business internationally,” says Cleaver. “And that means we must have a robust understanding of the complex and fluid issues affecting companies that operate in a variety of environments around the world.”

Cleaver and his team see themselves less as buttoned-up accountants than as guides for clients overwhelmed by or unfamiliar with the expectations and requirements of the business world. Over the years, Cleaver has honed an approachable style that earns plaudits from fellow accountants. His plain-English explanations help clients understand what’s at stake in accounting and finance decisions that can seem inconsequential or even irrelevant—and his clients clearly benefit from his approach.

“When you explain these complicated or, frankly, boring concepts to clients in a way that they can truly understand, their eyes light up and you can tell they ‘get it,’” says Cleaver. “For me, that’s the most satisfying thing about what I do.”

During his time at Cleaver Partners, Fergus Cleaver has cultivated a vast array of accounting specialties. His core client services include:

  • Bookkeeping: Custom-tailored bookkeeping and accounting services for clients needing annual and periodic accounts for appraisal, cash flow, tax and other purposes.
  • Business financing: Customized business financing for clients at every stage of the growth cycle, regardless of industry or macroeconomic conditions.
  • Budgeting and financial forecasting: Incisive financial projections for a range of scenarios, all in the aim of maximizing budgeting flexibility and illuminating the potential outcomes of various business decisions.
  • Tax services: Cleaver provides clients with sound advice regarding taxation and tax preparation, with the ultimate aim of minimizing clients’ tax obligations within the constraints of national and international law.

Cleaver’s wide range of business advisory services also includes matters that indirectly impact business accounting, including management consulting and succession planning. Cleaver provides these services to New Zealand-based businesses in a diverse lineup of industries, including contracting and construction, travel agencies, trades, professional services, hospitality firms, freight and logistics companies, legal services providers and marketing and advertising companies.

When Cleaver is not putting in extra time at the office, which he admits happens far too frequently, he can be found traveling with his family, skiing his favorite slopes and advocating for sustainable development practices in New Zealand and across the world.

Fergus Cleaver is also active in the Auckland charity circuit. He gives generously to a number of causes dear to his heart, including local arts and culture organizations, children’s protection groups, social justice organizations for native peoples, disaster and humanitarian relief, animal welfare, poverty alleviation, science and technology investment and more. In addition to direct financial support, he provides accounting help and other financial services on a pro bono basis, and is always seeking new charitable endeavors to which to donate his time and skills.

These 4 Trends Are Changing Accounting (Even If No One Knows It Yet)

By Fergus Cleaver

Like death and taxes, accounting is one of those things that just…is. (To be fair, accounting does intimately involve at least one of those things.)

Seriously: It’s only a small exaggeration to say that the field of accounting is one of the few human professions that always was, always is and probably always will be. But that doesn’t mean it’s incapable of reinventing itself.

In point of fact, accounting has seen more changes this decade than at any point in living memory. While it’s never safe to chance at predicting the future, it’s nevertheless fair to bet that these changes will continue—and maybe accelerate—in the coming years. That could have major ramifications for younger accountants, students contemplating accounting careers and children not yet old enough to know what they want to do with their lives, other than be astronauts.

Most important, the changes rocking the world of accounting will affect the millions of practitioners currently in the prime of their careers—too young to retire, for sure, but (feeling) too set in their ways to adapt to radical change.

For all those affected by the changes rocking the world of accounting, and those interested for whatever obscure reason, these are the four crucial accounting trends you need to understand now.

1. Accounting Now Lives in the Cloud

Modern accounting is built on the back of an increasingly powerful, increasingly intelligent (e.g., HubDoc) set of cloud software solutions. This is a tremendous time-saver for human accountants, and a potentially game-changing value for small-business owners set on going the DIY route.

2. Business Software Leverages Built-In Accounting Functions

Even as basic accounting functions are digitizing and moving into the cloud, the accounting landscape is becoming ever more diffuse. Case in point: the proliferation of “light accounting” capabilities in dozens of business software programs (most based in the cloud) whose primary or secondary functions have nothing to do with accounting. Look for more of this going forward.

3. Mergers & Acquisitions Will Dominate Corporate Accounting

After a brutal downturn in the wake of the global financial crisis, M&A activity has picked back up in a big way. As accelerating technological change drives consolidation in virtually every industry, this looks to be a secular trend. And that’s big news for young people looking for reliable work in corporate accounting, which has seen its share of lean years.

4. The Gig Economy Is Here to Stay

The gig economy is important for two big reasons. One, as its practitioners grow more ambitious and successful, they need more accounting help than ever. Two, accountants themselves can take advantage of a growing set of lucrative opportunities to work as consultants or hired guns, stringing together full-time-equivalent incomes on the back of high-value, task-based work. The Uber of accounting has yet to be invented, but it’s probably not far off.

Economics Is Boring, But You Should Major in It Anyway: 5 Reasons

By Fergus Cleaver

Picture an economics major. What do you see?

Please, don’t hold back.

Let’s face it—the discipline of economics is not exactly the paragon of cool. Its practitioners are nerdy, and proudly so. “Flashy” is a foreign concept to them.

Do they care? Nah. They’ve got the last laugh.

Turns out, economics is actually a pretty great field to be in. Sure, not every economics major will grow up to be a celebrity central banker or the head of a big Wall Street firm. But economists—and, yes, economics graduates can call themselves economists—enjoy an unusual, uncanny perspective on the world. When it comes to finance and business, they’re like sharks swimming in a millpond filled with minnows. (The rest of us non-economists are the minnows.)

So, even if they don’t make millions, economists tend to come out on top—or, to borrow a phrase, ensure that the odds are ever in their favor. Here are five concrete reasons to ditch your current career plan and become an economics major.

1. It’s Great for Aspiring MBAs

Surprise, surprise: Economics is one of the most popular majors for aspiring MBAs. (Which, in turn, is one of the most popular graduate degrees for people who aspire to join the global 1 percent.) By the transitive property of majors, economics is a not-quite-sure ticket to the top of the, er, economic heap.

2. It Teaches You How the World Actually Works, Not How It Should Work

Economics is real. It’s not always right, and it’s wracked with more differences of opinion than you can shake a stick at, but it’s nevertheless based in time-tested theories backed by empirical data. Not every major can claim to offer such a coherent theory of reality.

3. It’s a Concrete Application for Mathematics

Are you good at math? (Or even just passable?) Economics is a great outlet for your passion. As an economics major, you can expect to use advanced calculus and statistics to illuminate opaque financial concepts.

4. It Teaches the Value of Goods and Services

Ever wonder how much something is really worth? Economics doesn’t quite give you a master cheat sheet for buying and selling everything under the sun, but it’s apt to boost your confidence in your ability to tell good deals from bad.

5. It’s More Than Just Numbers

Economics does involve some tricky math. But it’s not all zeros and ones here. Economics majors encounter a slew of softer disciplines too: sociology, psychology, anthropology. It’s often said that economics majors are better rounded upon entering the workforce than finance, accounting or business majors. It’s not hard to see why.

Not Everyone Can Major in Economics

Not everyone can major in economics—there aren’t enough economics professors, bless their hearts, to go around. Nor should everyone major in economics. If you’re not a fan of crunching numbers and peering into the muddied depths of economies large and small, you’re likely to burn out on the discipline before long. So, if your interest is piqued by any of these five concrete reasons to get into economics, by all means investigate further. Just don’t dive in head-first until you’ve checked your depth.