Celebrating Deborah Poulton: The end of a chapter, the start of a new adventure

Celebrating Deborah Poulton: The end of a chapter, the start of a new adventure

Hard-working. Kind-hearted. A mother figure.

Those are just a few words to describe our Partner, Deborah Poulton. Who, after 40+ years, is hanging up her professional services boots.

Deb – as she’s affectionately known here – merged her own firm with BellchambersBarrett almost six years ago.

Since then, she’s played an important role in our growth – and is now leaving a beautiful legacy.

In this article, we reminisce about the years with Deb. And talk about what’s most important to her in her work. (Hint: it’s not the money.)

When two firms merged in the Berra

It all started in 2015. Deb had already been running her own boutique tax advisory firm for decades – and knew it was time for a succession plan.

So she started looking for an opportunity to transition her business to another firm. Was it a difficult endeavour?

“Yep,” she answers without hesitation. “It was not easy to find the right firm. But I knew that would be the case, because to me, it was never just about the money.

“It was about finding a home for my clients and my staff. A place where I know they will all be well looked after. And I knew not many people would share my values and think like that.”

But then, she met Shane Bellchambers – and they clicked.

And around a year later, the two firms merged to become the BellchambersBarrett we know today.

Six years of success – and counting

Fast forward to almost six years now. We’ve grown from a two-partner tax division to a five-partner tax division. Our client base expanded significantly. And our team continues to grow in leaps and bounds.

The most important question: Is Deb happy about how it all worked out?

“Oh yes. It’s all been very successful,” she affirms. “And one of the best things about being with BellchambersBarrett is the feeling of support.

“By being part of a team with a bigger block of staff – and different partners to support them – I had the time and capacity to grow my client list without compromising the personal service I pride myself on. And that’s been a wonderful thing.”

Deb’s eyes sparkle when she talks about her clients – and you can see how much they mean to her. Because, as she herself readily admits, she treasures her clients like family.

That’s why she loves knowing that she can trust BellchambersBarrett to give her clients the same support – and help them flourish – once she finishes up.  

More than just business transactions

Many businesses brandish the phrase ‘We treat clients like family’ around.

But Deb really does treat her clients like family.

For the past four decades, she’s been journeying through life with them – supporting them through ups and downs when they needed it.

“A lot of my clients have been with me for over 40 years,” she says. “They’re now old, and a lot of them don’t have family. So I end up looking after them from cradle to grave.

“And over time, it’s become more than just a client–provider relationship. It’s morphed into so much more than a business transaction. In fact – it’s really never just a transaction to me.”

Shane, too, points out that Deb’s dedication to her clients is one of her biggest strengths.

“She’s done a lot for her clients through the years,” he says. “She visits them. She travels around NSW to see them. And it’s not only for accounting or tax stuff. She’s been with her clients through difficult periods like divorces and deaths. She’s very dedicated like that.”

Another branch of the family

If clients occupy one side of Deb’s heart, the other side – without question – belongs to her staff.

That’s why it’s such a comfort, she says, to know that she can trust BellchambersBarrett with the people who’ve been through years and years with her.

“The staff that I brought across have been with me for a long time. And they’re all still here,” she states, pausing for that to sink in.

“That says a lot about the success of our firms coming together.”

Building a strong, genuine relationship with one another is an important part of our firm’s culture. From partners to senior staff to interns – everyone treats each other like family.

And that’s one of the things Deb will miss most about working at the firm.

“I’ll miss the people. After all, you spend your life with the people. And it’s been really nice to see all the young ones coming through and seeing them grow. Well, they’re just gonna have to find another mother figure now,” she laughs.

“But I’m in a good space. I know that everybody’s going to be fine.”

A Deb-shaped key to success

To Shane, there’s no doubt that Deb has played a key role in the firm’s success.

“She’s got very loyal staff, and everyone loves working for her,” he says.

“We’ve been able to grow our firm in a significant way in the last few years. Without bringing on Deb’s firm and the staff, it would have been difficult for us to get to where we are today.”

Over the past five years, Deb has also played a big role in our social club – organising events and getting everyone to mingle.

“Everyone loves working with her,” Shane continues. “She’s a good person to have around the office.”

So, what’s next for Deb?

Shane describes Deb as one of the most kind-hearted, hard-working people he’s come across.

“She doesn’t stop,” he says, smiling. “I honestly thought she would never retire, because she can’t sit still. Even in retirement, she’s got a full-time charity job that she’s doing. She’s still going to be working five-plus days a week, I’m sure.”

Well, Deb pretty much confirms it.

On top of being a partner at BellchambersBarrett, Deb is also the director and treasurer of the Kairos Prison Ministry Australia – and she was recently appointed their chief operating officer too.

So, in her next chapter, she’s looking forward to giving her best in that role.

“BellchambersBarrett has always given me the space to work with the ministry, even while I’m still here,” she says. “But next year, I’ll be concentrating fully on my charity work.”

Two words of wisdom

Finally, we asked Deb what has kept her going in her career through these 40+ years.

Without pausing to ponder, she shared two words: “The relationships.”

And that is her parting advice to the team, too.

“It’s all about the relationships,” she reiterates. “It’s not just about doing tax and stuff like that. The dollars don’t matter. It’s about the relationships you build. That’s how you build your clients. You grow with them – in every sense of the word. So make sure you work on the relationships.”

We’re going to miss you, Deb. Thank you for everything, and we wish you all the best!