Eleion Professional Group, Chartered Professional Accountants brings more than 50 years of combined experience to the table through a young, dynamic, all-female team intent on reinventing the accounting industry. ELEION is there when the idea of a business is formed, through the startup phase, through the growth and beyond – all quietly in the background providing the proactive accounting expertise and management businesses need in order to grow.
It all started with one goal for ELEION’s founders: providing flexible customer service custom-designed to meet clients’ needs – in an industry not necessarily known for flexibility or creativity.
Partners Jennifer Steckly and Ida Colby started the firm as Colby Steckly Chartered Professional Accountants in 2013.
“We were both working as managers at a large firm but did not have the flexibility to provide the customer service we felt would be most beneficial for our clients. We could not help build the practice in line with our vision so we decided to open our own firm,” says Steckly.
On day one, the firm had two partners and one client. Fast forward 10 years and the firm has three partners, 10+ staff and a full client roster showcasing a variety of businesses at all stages of development in a wide range of industries.
“We are an all-female partner firm,” Steckly adds. “We did not intentionally design our firm this way, but we are proud of it! As an approved training firm for other CPAs, we are honoured to bring up the next generation of this profession, especially for women.”
She counts hiring the firm’s first full-time employee as a fond memory and a major milestone.
“When you start a business, you do it all until you can support a team. It was great when Ida and I were able to hire our first administrator. When you start, you really don’t have an idea of how much admin support goes into a business!”
Other milestones include moving into their own space five years ago instead of subletting and bringing on Candy Lam as a partner in 2022.
“Another thing we very fondly remember,” says Steckly, “was seeing our first student go through and earn their letters thanks, in part, to the hours spent in our program.”
On the 10-year anniversary of the firm, there are plenty of milestones to reflect on but the partners are also looking forward. The name change to ELEION Group reflects this change and solidifies the dynamic, original vision of the founders.
Steckly explains, “I’m excited about the firm not showcasing our last names. ELEION is an amalgamation of ‘elevate’ and ‘champion’ and it speaks to a team of professionals that provides an elevated level of service to champion the financial end our clients’ businesses. We position ourselves as an integral part of our clients’ team.”
This approach has been very successful. ELEION routinely surveys its corporate clients; 90 per cent cite the meaningful and timely communication and real interest in helping them get to the next level in business as reasons why they are so happy with the firm.
“We make a point to be proactive,” Steckly confirms. “We send out updates when things change or when there is pertinent information. For example, during COVID we ensured our clients had information on programs for which they qualified and what they could expect from those programs.
“Additionally, we have started offering fractional consulting services. This allows us to meet with business owners that need our services on an add-need basis. As a fractional CFO, we can identify positive or negative performance indicators and advise on what to change to make their operations more profitable.”
ELEION’s ultimate vision is to increase its network and become a hub for connecting clients with all the professional services needed in order to thrive. With so much time, energy and passion put into building industry relationships, ELEION is in a prime position to connect business owners with a variety of products and services or with people that can answer questions about business growth and development.
“With our team and communication focus with clients,” Steckly says, “we achieve a comfortable relationship. This provides an opportunity to be involved in the business in a truly integrated way and help them make those necessary industry connections.”
Being accessible to small businesses is important to the team. ELEION ensures a plan for this too.
“We have a set fee structure with different levels so our clients can feel confident in calling us without thinking ‘every call adds to my invoice.’ Not only does this provide stability for their payables, it allows us to do our job better and prepare for tax season. Without the worry about billing, frequent communication on both sides lets us take care of our clients, get ahead of growing concerns and promote a much more proactive approach overall.”
Many new business owners turn to software to take care of the accounting side of things. While such automation is efficient for bookkeeping, Steckly knows this approach does not necessarily save the client money – or time, or sanity overall – when it comes to accounting.
“You don’t know what you don’t know,” she advises. “As the founder of your company, you are the expert in your own business but as accountants, we are experts at catching things you won’t see. Especially with tax and compliance, it is much better to do things right upfront than have to go back to fix things. Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) does not excuse mistakes based on a lack of accounting knowledge.”
She continues with sage advice for new business owners, “Start on the right foot. Don’t make things harder than they need to be with CRA. View an accountant like you would a lawyer or mentor. It’s a service to have in your corner that provides a professional perspective that is different from yours.”
ELEION is also proud to support the non-profits and charities that help build successful outcomes. For this reason, ELEION is a long-term supporter of My LuvPak.
My LuvPak creates and distributes backpacks filled with personal items tailored to address the psychological, emotional and physical needs of children in challenging situations, such as entering foster care, experiencing homelessness or facing severe poverty. The packs aim to offer joy, hope and comfort to these children by giving them a LuvPak containing carefully chosen belongings, fostering a sense of self-worth during their difficult times.
“Oftentimes,” says Steckly, “when a child is entering foster care, they are told to put their belongings into a trash bag as they are moved to a new environment – while already going through trauma. That is very jarring for the child. We like My LuvPak because all the funds go into the backpacks. There are no admin fees. While the Edmonton branch of this organization is closing, the founder gave us the opportunity to provide its last round of LuvPaks for the region and it is our hope that we can continue to move forward, in some form locally, with this charity (it remains active in Grand Prairie). We focus on children aged 10+, as that age group does not always get the same level of charitable support as younger children.”
Every member of ELEION is committed to seeing clients and community members succeed, which is why My LuvPak is a charity of choice, among other giving-back initiatives.
“Seeing that success, seeing dreams come true and having a front row seat to witness the most driven, engaged and talented people do their thing,” says Steckly when asked what she loves the most about her work. “Driven, smart, talented – that is what entrepreneurs are and we get to see them take their business to the next level. How many people get to say they have that experience over and over? We get to see dreams come true while having a part in their success.
“If I could tell entrepreneurs one thing it would be this – you are champions! Every business owner figurately jumps off a cliff without knowing if their parachute will open. They take such a huge risk and they are not always told when they are doing well. It is important for my clients to hear that encouragement from us.”
The name change and the 10-year milestone have the founders beaming, rightfully, with pride. They are able to provide the service they envisioned for their clients. The founders’ own leap of faith into entrepreneurship was clearly the right move.
“This milestone is more of a celebration of our clients than it is for us,” says Steckly. “Without our clients and industry partners, we would not be here today. This anniversary, name change and celebration is a testament to all of them.”
What comes next?
Steckly concludes, “We are growing ELEION to be a hub where businesses can connect, network and work collaboratively. The aim is to provide a 360-degree approach to supporting businesses and entrepreneurs in Edmonton.”
#204, 14127 – 23 Ave NW Edmonton, AB T6R 0G4
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