About Us

MARK WITHERS

Mark Withers

“Weigh the gold nugget you are standing on before digging another hole.”

I created this saying, to share with clients the idea that often you already possess great opportunity for financial improvement by using your existing underutilised assets. It just requires the right expertise to unlock this potential and grow your asset portfolio without taking unnecessary risks.



A family passion

My own passion for accountancy – and it’s a strong passion – began as I grew up in Warkworth with a father who was the local chartered accountant. Everybody knew my father (who is still in practice today in his late 70s as a top farm accountant) who always seemed to be at the centre of business. He was instrumental in helping to grow the town and was a hugely significant role model for me. He influenced me to leave school early and begin my studies at ATI - Auckland Technical Institute (now Auckland University of Technology).

I was admitted to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in 1991, having completed my studies at ATI where I also gained a National Certificate in Business Studies. My entire career has been in chartered accountancy in public practice and my first position was as a clerk in an accountancy practice (Horwath & Horwath).



The early days

A partner I worked with decided to form his own practice and asked myself and Stephen Tsang to join him. We agreed and moved to Davidson and Associates. At that time, we had few clients and had to market the practice from the ground up. We built the practice and made it successful – experience that would prove invaluable when Stephen and I set up our own practice in the late 90s when we were in our early 30s.

I was invited to be a founding member and treasurer of the Auckland Property Investors Association and served 10 years as treasurer before being made a life member. My experience here was vitally important in terms of growing Withers Tsang & Co and improving my own public speaking abilities. I could network and provide support to people investing in property. My skills in the tax area meant I could provide specialist advice and bring clients into the practice that were looking for support in this area.



Writing and speaking

I’m an enthusiastic residential and commercial property investor. I authored "Property Tax - A NZ Investors Guide" and am a regular speaker and commentator on property tax matters. No one had published a book on property tax at that time, so it it was my goal to take a complex subject and make it understandable to the layman. This philosophy is something I have sustained throughout my career and it’s allowed me to connect more deeply with clients and see things from their perspective.

I have a belief that clients’ affairs are never more complex than their own ability to understand them. This belief has informed my writing and public speaking. I enjoy seeing people learning, passing knowledge on and communicating complexities.



Some highlights

I take great satisfaction from seeing clients succeed and my career highlights reflect this. These include:

  • A client who had a small shop now has a property portfolio of over 100 million dollars in part because of the expert advice given.
  • A builder now has now grown to be a multimillion dollar apartment developer.
  • Carefully navigating numerous clients through IRD audits. These are high pressure and high stakes cases.
  • Recently gaining a 6 million dollar GST refund for client. This case took quite some time and energy to prove.



Family

Karen is who I am married to and our sons are Spencer and Nicholas. I’m a qualified windsurfing instructor and love to ride an electrical bicycle!

When I have time I volunteer as a radio operator for the coast guard. It’s another example of an organisation that prides itself on teamwork and is very rewarding.



Final note

I tell my clients don’t leave wind to find wind. It’s all about stickability – if you are in a good position, stay with it. If something is working, keep doing it. It’s a personal philosophy that has served me well over 20 years in the industry.

 

STEPHEN TSANG

Stephen Tsang

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

This underpins my values; as to how I treat people and interact with clients. Whether it is completing a tax return for a client, working with someone who has multiple businesses or interacting with my team, I always strive to work with the utmost respect and integrity.



Early days

I was born and raised in Hong Kong and came to New Zealand when I was 17 – I’ve now been here for more than 30 years. Ever since I was a teenager I was focused and steered towards the fields of accounting and commerce. After finishing my Bachelor of Commerce at Otago, major in accounting and economics, I started working in Auckland after my wonderful scarfie years

I met Mark in 1989 when we were both at Horwath and Horwath. This was the period when the first wave of Asian migration began arriving in New Zealand. Because of my background and language skills, I was able to bring a large number of these clients into the firm. Even as a young graduate I was very proactive about engaging with new clients. These new Asian migrants trusted me to translate and explain legal documents from a trust deed to bank loan documents, which very few accountants at that time had the ability to do. This is provided me with the classic “boardroom apprentice” training.

In 1993 I joined Davidson & Associates Chartered Accountants. I worked here for five years and was on track to become a partner. However, there came a point where both Mark and I felt we were ready to stretch our wings and start our own business. At this point I had strong business development skills and the time was right to form Withers Tsang & Co.



A trusted business confidant

Many of my clients followed me when I set up Withers Tsang & Co. I became a conduit for them; a trusted business confidant and liaison who wasn’t fazed by negotiating with banks, closing business deals, dealing with vendors and being a go between for clients and tenants. I developed my skill set in relation to family estate planning, setting up new businesses, succession planning and family trust related issues.

I was passionate about my work (still am) and took pride in the fact that so many Kiwis trusted their financial affairs to me. I was also honoured that families across multiple generations would entrust their financial affairs to me. At this time, I developed my strategic ability and polished my negotiation skills so I could take on an advisory role with clients; looking at the big picture rather than just the numbers.



A chameleon

In many ways I consider myself a chameleon for our clients. I am somebody who takes on a diverse role that ranges from, an advisor assisting clients with divorce matters to being an advocate who helps a client avoid bankruptcy proceedings. I frequently deal with high stress situations and spend at least 60% of my time on the phone and meeting clients.

There have been a huge number of personal highlights over the years including:

  • Assisting a client that had to endure an intense 16 month IRD audit including an IRD raid on premises.
  • Advising a humble real estate agent who evolved from having a few properties to becoming a household name in the New Zealand property space.
  • Assist numerous clients with multimillion-dollar loan negotiations with the bank.
  • Navigating clients through the complexities of trusts and personal estate planning.
    Succession planning is an increasingly important part of our work. Often clients have immense knowledge and entrepreneurial skills but don’t understand the next generation and how they think. We can be a sounding board for them, to challenge their thinking.
    Mastering succession planning is an art and not a science.



Other interests

I’m a mad, keen fisherman and a novice boatie, who loves to learn about wine and dream about golf. I’m happily married to Shirley with two teenagers (Joshua 17, Charlotte 14). I have been a treasurer for my church and various associations and member of the Board of Trustee for the local primary school. I enjoy public speaking opportunities to regularly present seminars for major banks and businesses. I have also been a columnist and appeared on radio programmes to talk about tax matters.

CAROLE PEDDER

Carole Pedder

“Give it your all.”

In some ways this summarises my approach to clients. I always try to help my clients with all aspects of their business or personal finances, and am an advocate for them across the board.



Early days

I was born and raised in Auckland and am a Devonport local. I’ve always been an ambitious person and left school at the age of 15 to work for Barry Hopkins as an office junior. It may amuse people to know at that young age, I went into the industry because I liked the television show LA Law. I thought it would be great to be able to wear suits every day and work in a big building in the city! I also saw that it was a way to provide for my family using the skills I already possessed.

I started my university studies in accounting and business as an adult student. I’ve always had a strong work ethic and love being able to help people with things that really mattered to them. People take their money seriously and it’s important.



My role

As a Chartered Accountant and Business Consultant, I have been a partner in Withers Tsang & Co for more than ten years. In this time, I’ve specialised in client development and tax compliance, and now focus on business and the arts sectors. I represent entertainers, performers and all their related industries such as graphics and marketing.
My work with creatives over the last 10 years has led me to have an involvement with the not for profit sector including my role on the board of the New Zealand Comedy Trust as Chairperson.

Before joining the firm, I was a contract management accountant, working with businesses rather than just advising. This gave me an excellent foundation to understand how companies really work. I was still quite young at the time, so the contract work gave me my first experience of being in business for myself.

I knew Mark and Stephen when they established Withers Tsang & Co and supported what they were doing; I was there the day they opened the doors and joined them a couple of years later.

As a Director of Withers Tsang & Co my day to day role involves working with clients to help them reach their goals. I also have an involvement in and ownership of a number of businesses – this gives me an in-depth insight into business which helps me understand my clients’ concerns from their perspective. I am the part owner in Ray White Ponsonby - Damerell Group, Ray White - Damerell Group Property Management, Copper Brand Experience Ltd - Brand Experiential, and a family business - Motorsport Warehouse Limited (my husband’s passion).



Clear judgement

I am passionate about not being passionate; that way I am better at hearing what people say. If you’re over-passionate about things, it can cloud your judgement and you don’t see others’ viewpoints. This business for me is about understanding that everyone is different, seeing things differently and realising what works for one won’t work for another. There are no simple answers when it comes to helping people reach goals, be it financial or otherwise.

I am strong advocate for people in difficult circumstances. I bring a commonsense approach when engaging with creditors, shareholders and the IRD on a client’s behalf.
My highlights are many, but they involve getting excellent outcomes for clients. Recently I was able to settle a separation that had been in a stalemate situation for 5 years. After just 2 hours talking through the situation we were able to come to a settlement that was agreeable to both parties. It saved a lot of time, money and heartache by not going to court.

Dealing with these types of scenarios is all about using my advanced communication skills, experience and expertise. I look at a problem from all sides before being the strongest advocate for my client that I can be.



Personal life

A recent personal highlight was completing my Masters of Tax at AUT in 2015.
I love to paint and often go to classes to improve my ability - artist Robert Campion has been of particular assistance in this area. I also enjoy chilling out with my partner and son at the beach.

 

NICK ASHFORD

“The secret to happiness is to expect nothing.”

This may seem like a controversial statement, but for me this resonates and simply means that before I chase what I want, I should appreciate what I have got. Otherwise the journey towards completing one’s goals, or the expectation we have of others or ourselves will lead to unhappiness. In life, reaching goals is only momentary while the journey towards reaching goals is infinite, therefore I would much prefer my journey to be a happy one.



My family’s small business

I am originally from Paeroa, went to college in Taupo and then the University in Auckland. At 15 I started my accounting education and every time I completed another step towards becoming a Chartered Accountant was a highlight.

My parents have their own business and seeing what they went through influences a lot of my decisions today. Their sleepless nights and stress caused by GST, PAYE and income tax always made me want to try and do something to help. They had great customer relationships and were extremely hard working, but it seemed like the numbers were considered last and it always caused them the most distress.

I’m more of a problem solver. I focus not only on the numbers but also what numbers are important to our clients and how we can use them to find solutions or uncover underlying problems.



My role at Withers Tsang & Co

Within the firm my role is varied. I am one of the first contact people for many of our clients, the manager of 7 staff, reviewer of staff work, MYOB/Xero Co-ordinator and the first responder for firm IT issues. These roles are as a result of my passion to help others, in particular helping both colleagues and clients go beyond understanding the processes or procedures involved within the business and accounting world. To help them understand the concepts and ideas that have led to the creation of legislation, accounting software, business planning and more.

Helping a client get one good result is great, but helping them understand and replicate a great result continuously is exceptional. That’s why I consider my role to be part educator, part facilitator and part communicator.



Personal highlights

I began my accounting career with Withers Tsang & Co and over the years have experienced a huge number of highlights. These include:

  • Achieving results shared with clients from facilitating IRD penalty write-offs to seeing a business plan succeed.
  • Managing the completion of financial statements and reviewing staff work to ensure we are maximising our ability to assist those we work with.
  • Recognising when a client feels stressed about outstanding tax and doing all I can to work with the IRD to ease that clients burden.
  • Helping a client move onto better accounting systems and hearing that as a result, they have more time to do things other than bookwork.



Future development

Since 2010 there have been significant changes in the taxation of foreign investments, for many accountants this was a complex and largely ignored area. However, during this time I became an in-house specialist and then used those skills to get many clients back on the correct side of the law. In the future I look forward to continuing specialising in my chosen fields to become more of an expert in the area of foreign investments. By continuing on this pathway I will further develop my skill set in relation to foreign pensions/taxation.



Private life

Prior to becoming a Partner at the firm in 2016, I had so many things to be thankful for. Personally I met my wife Davina when I was 19 and she introduced me to her home and family in Rarotonga (I go back and visit every 6 months or so). In 2015 we had a baby girl, Wyn, and my main role outside of Withers Tsang & Co now is dad. Outside of work my world is my family.

I am a proud member of the Nintendo generation, and could be described as a gamer. When I can spare an afternoon I like to play golf, though my handicap would indicate that I am not a golfer. I would love to have a six pack of abs, but am happy working on getting past just having the single one. I plan to retire back in Rarotonga, where we have a home, however that will be some time away.