While foreign language skills are common in Europe, that’s often not the case in English-speaking countries like Australia. Accru Felsers in Sydney is something of an exception.
Around a third of the Accru Felsers staff are bilingual and able to communicate with clients in German, French, Mandarin, Cantonese, Malay, Tamil and six other languages, as our video – made to celebrate our 75th anniversary – demonstrates.
Having the ability to speak many languages is a big asset from a client’s perspective, especially when you get into technical terms. Understanding different business cultures is also key to avoiding misunderstanding. For Accru Felsers Managing Partner Glenda Nixon, that means having staff who can understand the dialects and business cultures of Hong Kong Chinese, mainland Chinese, Shanghai-based Chinese… not just trot out a few words of Cantonese or Mandarin.
An international outlook is something in the DNA of Accru Felsers, which was established by German-speaking immigrant Gerhard Felser in 1941.
Gerhard Felser, a 30 year old Austrian accountant, escaped Nazi Germany with his Jewish wife. Leaving behind a good job, their assets and former lives, the couple made a narrow escape to London, then migrated to Australia where Gerhard set up Felsers Chartered Accountants in Sydney. The story of their escape brought them community support and the practice thrived. The Jewish community was impressed that, as a Catholic, he was prepared to do that to save his wife and brought their work to him.
Accru Felsers Chartered Accountants has maintained a German-speaking desk ever since. Today, Austrian, Swiss, and German-based subsidiary companies make up a large proportion of Accru Felsers audit and outsourcing work, while the firm is increasingly engaged by businesses in China and Singapore.