Jennifer Fisher’s retirement from Wilkinson and Company later this month will cap more than 40 years of dedicated service to her many clients in the Kingston and Quinte region. In addition to helping with all their accounting needs, Jennifer has been a ‘financial sounding board’ and trusted advisor to business owners, not-for-profit organizations and professionals, with whom she’s developed valued, long-term relationships.
“These relationships go beyond financial statements and tax returns,” she says. “I’ve tried to provide constructive support – particularly over this past year, dealing with the pandemic impacts – and am really glad to have helped my clients manage their businesses during such a difficult time.”
Originally from Bracebridge, Ontario, Jennifer attended Queen’s University, where she received a B.Sc. in Math in 1977, with plans to become a teacher. Due to a shortage of jobs in that profession, however, she shifted her focus to accounting. After 18 months of training and courses with a national firm in Toronto, Jennifer accepted a position at Wilkinson and Company’s Belleville office, which was closer to her husband’s family and business.
When the firm purchased a Kingston practice in 2001, Jennifer seized the opportunity to move there. Many of her current clients have been with her since that time, while some from Belleville date back even further.
“Probably the hardest part of retirement will be saying goodbye to my clients,” she acknowledges. “I’ll really miss connecting regularly with them, but am happy that we have such a strong team in place – under partner, Colleen Lawrie, and assurance managers Kyle Wetering and Martin Gravelle – to ease the transition and move things forward.”
A highlight for Jennifer has been training and mentoring new staff, a number of whom are currently firm partners and managers. She is proud to have fostered career development – both for people who stayed with the firm and those who have moved onto other opportunities.
Jennifer, who describes herself as “a generalist, with a particular fondness for the not-for-profit sector”, became Wilkinson and Company’s first female partner. Reflecting now on her successful career, she attributes the wonderful client relationships as key.
“The history of the firm directs our client services’ focus” she adds. “[Founding partner] Wilf Wilkinson started this in 1964, and he has left such a wonderful legacy for us to continue. I’ve tried to emphasize that foundation when training new staff, including how important it is to give back to the community.”
Over the past four decades, Jennifer has volunteered on a number of community boards, including the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation, the Kingston General Hospital Foundation and the Board of Governors of St. Lawrence College. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Providence Care.
“Kingston and Quinte are very caring communities, with individuals who recognize the benefits of helping those in need,” says Jennifer. “Both are beautiful places to live and build careers, but it’s the spirit of these communities, and the supports they offer, that really stand out.” This community culture of caring has been demonstrated particularly over the past year, she continues, as groups and individuals have had to adapt to major disruptions caused by the pandemic.
Another consequence of the pandemic restrictions is that the partners are unable to hold a client reception celebrating Jennifer’s long service to the firm and to her community. Instead, a donation has been made to the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation in recognition of her many valuable contributions.
“Jennifer has always focused on creating exceptional client relationships by providing personalized service and invaluable advice that our clients deserve,” says Trenton office partner, Kurt Gregoire. “She was the driving force behind the firm’s success in our Kingston office, creating and sustaining strong community relationships in the Kingston community.”
Extolling Jennifer’s “professional and caring personality, which has touched many lives of both our clients and our team over the past 41 years.” Kurt adds: “The entire Wilkinson & Company Team wishes her well in her future endeavours.”