From cafés and corner stores to boutiques and breweries, small local businesses are key to the Maritimes’ charm. Yet even the most passionate local entrepreneur can falter when it comes to their budget, or to fully understanding the Canada Revenue Agency’s rules.
Shellnutt Professional Accountants (formerly Bill Shellnutt & Associates Limited) has spent 45 years helping clients navigate personal and business finances. “We serve clients from Halifax, the South Shore, the Valley, Moncton, and P.E.I.,” says owner, CPA/CGA Mike Shellnutt. Over the years, he notes, various local enterprises have relied on the Shellnutt team’s expertise: golf courses, wineries, contractors and lobster-fishing operations.
But while Shellnutt’s customers range from fishermen to winemakers, Shellnutt and its clientele share common ground. “Our firm is a small business, too,” Mike points out. “I think that makes it easier to talk to clients, and relate to them.”
Mike’s father, Bill, founded Bill Shellnutt & Associates Limited in 1973. “He went into business the year I was born,” says Mike, who joined in the mid-90s. “I wanted to stay in Nova Scotia. I met my wife Denise here, and we wanted to raise our three kids here, too.”
When Bill Shellnutt passed away in 2012, his firm endured what Mike calls a “period of uncertainty.” “That was a challenge for all of us: the staff, Denise and myself,” he says quietly. “My father was very much the face of the business.”
Ultimately, Mike decided that he was given the torch, and it was his responsibility to keep it lit. “With help from my staff, and support from Doug MacNeil, FCPA, and Mike Jodrey — both accountants, and long-time friends of my father — we continued the work. Clients responded; they understood.” These days, he concludes, “Shellnutt Professional Accountants has emerged as a more focused public accounting firm, providing many of the same services Dad started. I think his legacy’s there.”
The firm’s staff roster still includes individuals mentored by Bill Shellnutt. Some, Mike notes, have 35 years or more of experience. “Everybody here has played a role in our success and longevity.”
Customers’ needs range from corporate and personal tax returns to commercial financing, estate management, and more. “We prepare personal taxes for a range of clients, with varying levels of tax complexity,” Mike says, noting that they’re also skilled at assisting with tax minutiae. “To a small business owner — especially a new one — navigating Canada Revenue can be pretty mind- blowing.”
Some Shellnutt clients have been with the company for decades, and Mike reports that “word of mouth” has benefited them hugely. “Some of that may come from the support we’ve offered local schools and community groups,” he muses.
As the Shellnutt team helps clients untangle their taxes and finances, “integrity and approachability” are essential, says Mike. “Money, business, success, failure — they’re tough to talk about for lots of people,” he acknowledges. “However, it’s possible to work through anything. An accountant looks at a financial statement, and there’s a story there. We understand it, and we tell the story.”
Shellnutt Professional Accountants
Entrance C, Suite 214 250 Baker Dr., Dartmouth
By Rebecca Spinner Photos Steve Jess