Sari Hodgson FCA 1960-2023

Firstly, thank you to the many, many people who have sent cards, emails and texts to me and our staff acknowledging Sari’s sudden and unexpected passing in April and the contribution she made to so many businesses and community organisations over a lot of years.

As a Chartered Accountant Sari’s focus was always on her clients first, she always had a smile for them and always made sure they got the best advice possible. While I knew this, I have been humbled by the many emails I have received expressing how Sari changed people’s businesses and lives, how important she was to her clients and how much they trusted her wisdom and judgement.

It goes without saying we all miss Sari a lot. Her guidance as a mentor to many staff over the last 35+ years, her advice to clients (many of whom thought of Sari as a friend as well as a trusted adviser), her tax knowledge and her bright, welcoming personality will never be able to be replaced. However, as a business we do have plans for a future without her.

But before I talk about that many people will be wondering what happened to Sari.

She never hid the fact she was a type 1 diabetic, but she also never let it rule her life. She would often say ‘it lives in my house, I don’t live in its house’. Because she was diagnosed with diabetes when she was just three years old she didn’t know any different and she just got on with life.

Her health issues in the last eight years stemmed from being prescribed methotrexate to help with the RSI pain in her hands. Unfortunately, this particular drug has a side effect she wasn’t aware of, Methotrexate Pneumonitis (pneumonia brought on by the drug) compromised her lung function. The result was she had only about 50% lung function since 2015 and this compromised her quality of life far more than her diabetes did.

Because of her compromised lung function we kept Sari at home to be safe from Covid, she was feeling as well as she had for some time and was getting ready to come back to the office at the end of May.

Sadly, as a result of the compromised lung function she had developed a clot in her lung that broke free and caused cardiac arrest.

Now and the future

To make sure we can provide the very best advice to our clients while also meeting the requirements of CA ANZ (Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand) we have put a caretaker Chartered Accountant (Barry Signal CA) in place to check everything we do and sign off accounts etc. We have engaged the services of Geoff Falloon, a tax expert, to provide tax advice to our staff and clients. Both are people we have worked with before and who Sari had a lot of respect for.

Moving forward I intend to take care of our clients and staff in the same way Sari would have. While I have inherited this business I can’t own the firm and it remain a Chartered Accountancy business, something that was important to Sari.

I will need to sell it in due course but rather than selling a client and fee base to a larger firm, as we are seeing a lot of at the moment, I am looking for someone with the right experience and personality to buy the business over time. I will retain a small shareholding and the new person can just buy the business over a few years. I will also stay involved in the business, I’m not going to just sell it and walk away.

My hope is that this will give a younger person the opportunity to own an established business. Creating an opportunity for someone is something Sari would have wanted to do.

Another option is to merge with another small, client focused, Chartered Accountancy business that shares a similar sense of supporting our community.

First and foremost, I intend to make a decision with the help of our staff, sometime in the next few months, that is in the very best interests of our clients.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me. I am in the office every day from about 8am until about 1.30pm or later as needed and can be contacted by email anytime.

Neil Hodgson