A long legacy in Tasmania
We take great pride in our heritage – an independent Tasmanian firm established in 1890 with a reputation for excellence, a legacy of knowledge and a history of supporting local organisations and families.
We have continued to grow over more than 125 years, and our firm has been shaped by many dedicated team members and Partners. From our early days working with some emerging Tasmanian businesses, many of whom we still support today, through to current times we have had a focus on contributing to the broad fabric of our home state of Tasmania. A small, yet influential start in 1890 has expanded to a Partnership of 12 and a team of over 70 specialist professionals, all based in Tasmania.
The timeline below provides a brief snapshot into some key touchpoints in our firm's history.
Mr H J Wise, Vice-President
Mr Henry Joshua Wise held the role of Vice-President with the Tasmanian Institute of Accountants.
It was during his tenure as Vice-President that Mr Wise signed the Certificate of Qualification for a young Mr Charles Edward Hamilton Ferguson of Launceston, recognising he had passed the Intercolonial Examination and admitting him as an associate of the Institute. Twenty years later, Mr Wise and Mr Ferguson would go into Partnership.
In December of the following year Mr H J Wise was elected to the role of President.
Companies Auditors’ Board issues Licence No 1
The Partnership of Wise Lord & Ferguson was formed. H J Wise was joined by John Lord from the Hobart Savings Bank and C E H Ferguson from Launceston.
On 24 October of this year, the Companies Auditors’ Board granted H J Wise Licence No.1 to act as an Auditor for Companies. The original copy of this document is still held in the WLF office today.
1920s to 1950s: serving Tasmania’s largest businesses
From the early days Wise Lord & Ferguson had a significant number of large Tasmanian based businesses among its audit clients. These included
- Cadburys, 1920s
- Australian Newsprint Mills, 1939
- Cascade Brewery Co, 1920s
- George Adams Estate
- Roberts Ltd, 1920s
- Nettlefolds, 1920s
- Hobart Savings Bank, 1920s
- Hobart Gas Co, 1920s
- Perpetual Trustees, 1920s
- Davies Brothers (The Mercury newspaper), 1950s
Photo: Cascade Brewery 1940, Tasmanian Archive & Heritage Office
The 1940s see the firm expand further with a new division
During and after World War II, income tax and probate duty became a preoccupation for many of the firm’s clients. Advertising was undertaken in The Mercury newspaper for more staff, and a new division was established to meet this need – the Business Services Group. Now known as Business and Personal Advisory, this division has continued to grow over the decades and now consists of 6 Partners and more than 35 team members.
Tasmania’s first female CA
Ms Ilma Lisson joined Wise Lord & Ferguson and was the first female Chartered Accountant in Tasmania. Ms Lisson stayed with the firm until 1962.
In 2017 the Institute of Chartered Accountants featured Ms Lisson in an article in their magazine, profiling her groundbreaking career and her recent admission as a Fellow of Chartered Accountants ANZ.
Photo: Ilma Lisson, courtesy of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand
Continued growth in the 1960s with a significant merger
Wise Lord & Ferguson merged with, and acquired, accounting firm Adams and Bennetto. Mr A W Adams had started practice in 1910 and Mr C A Bennetto had started in 1919.
The relationship between the two firms had originated through Mr Ferguson and Mr Adams, both of whom were auditors for the Savings Bank of Tasmania.
The firm moves from the original sandstone offices
Wise Lord & Ferguson moved from the original offices, in the AMP Building on of Elizabeth and Collins Street, Hobart.
The AMP Building was constructed in 1884 and had a sandstone facade and figurehead typical of Victorian-era architecture. A redevelopment in 1913 featured a striking sandstone arch as the entrance.The building was demolished in 1968 for construction of a modern office tower. The sandstone archway was donated to the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens and is still a popular feature today for family and wedding photographs.
Throughout the followed decades Wise Lord & Ferguson re-located a number of times. The address immediately following was the Scottish Union Building at 152 Macquarie Street. After this time the firm moved to 30 Davey Street, and then the Reserve Bank building before settling in the current location.
Photo: AMP Building, 1921, Mercury Historical Collection, Tasmanian Archive & Heritage Office
A new identity is launched
Wise Lord & Ferguson was rebranded to WLF Accounting & Advisory – a dynamic and contemporary practice built on a foundation of more than 120 years of excellence and service to the Tasmanian community.
This same year, WLF entered into a joint-venture financial services company, UNICA Wealth Pty Ltd.
We’re still proudly Tasmanian
WLF is still proudly Tasmanian, providing support, service and employment to our home state.
Our records dating back to 1928 show over 760 Tasmanians have worked at our firm, and with records prior to this time being incomplete we know the number is certainly substantially larger.
We continue our commitment to the local community, and our Partners and many of our staff serve local not for profit organisations in voluntary roles. WLF alumni are now based around the world and we are honoured to have played a role in shaping their careers and lives.
Throughout the years the firm’s Partners have held influential roles in the Tasmanian community.
Our Partners, past and present, are:
|H J Wise||1890 - 1940||M D Groom||1979 - 2004|
|J T Wertheimer||1923 - 1960||P T Beven||1981 - 2013|
|M O Brink||1923 - 1964||R P Whitehouse||1985 - 2008|
|J Lord||1925 - 1956||Harvey Gibson||1986 - 2019|
|C E H Ferguson||1925 - 1958||Danny McCarthy||1989 -|
|H W Woolley||1947 - 1964||P J Cook||1993 - 1996|
|O G D Groom||1953 - 1986||P J Thomson||1996 - 2003|
|R B Brownrigg||1954 - 1957||Douglas Thomson||2000 -|
|A K Wertheimer||1955 - 1969||Joanne Doyle||2000 -|
|J R Geary||1960 - 1963||Stuart Clutterbuck||2000 -|
|M E Siddall||1963 - 1986||Ian Wheeler||2005 -|
|R E Thomas||1963 - 1970||Dean Johnson||2009 -|
|J N Bridge||1963 - 1985||Marg Marshall||2009 -|
|R H Ikin||1966 - 1979||Paul Lyons||2012 -|
|J B Robson||1966 - 1969||Alicia Leis||2013 -|
|W S McKay||1969 - 1974||Nick Carter||2013 -|
|P L Williams||1974 - 1987||Simon Jones||2016 -|
|B A Palfreyman||1974 - 2005||Maryellen Salter||2019 -|