Fergus Cleaver is a New Zealand-based accountant with more than a decade of experience 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.