The cloud, a paperless office, the digital accounts process – three hot topics from our recent conversations with four senior-level accountants in practice. Read on for the technology set-up within each firm, how they embedded technology into their everyday processes and their vision for the future.
Freddie Faure, co-founder of CooperFaure, highlights the benefits from moving beyond desktop solutions: ‘We were quick to see the benefit of cloud-based technology, both to enable our team to work remotely and to meet the changing regulatory landscape’, says Freddie.
She contributes much of the increase in CooperFaure’s client base to adopting relevant yet affordable technology: ‘We built our own online modular quoting system as part of the onboarding process. So instead of offering a flat price to prospective customers, we decided to differentiate ourselves and be quite niche in our pricing…this approach actually increased our client base by 30-40% in a year because people were more engaged with the services that they really needed.’
A move to the cloud and the goal to become a paperless office also applies to Mark Broadhead of Broadhead Accountants in Bristol: ‘We are virtually paperless…Electronic versions of correspondence are always easier to find and ready for sharing with clients.’ Mark also reminded us of how far we’ve all come since the good old days of the fax machine that used to lie at the heart of so many businesses.
Edward Corrigan, founding partner at Corrigan Associates, discusses the use of particular apps to benefit his clients: ‘We’re using those [apps] particularly around data capture in order to streamline the bookkeeping process.’ says Edward. He indicates the role of an integrated system as fundamental in his day-to-day work: ‘We’re now making the most of the fact that we have an integrated plan and contacts database. It makes communicating with our clients much more efficient.’
Edward also shares his top considerations when choosing new technologies to run his practice: ‘We wanted it to have a single point of entry, to make the data capture as easy as possible. We also considered the interface; we wanted it to be intuitive and clear. And we were also looking for a robust system with a well-established user base and one that we could be confident would be well maintained.’
Compliance requirements have caused accountants to re-think some of their software needs as part of a drive to audit where client data is held and how it is used: ‘GDPR has caused us to look at streamlining our systems and processes’, says Freddie.
Perhaps the most significant driver of technology change is the onset of MTD for VAT. Jolene Hutton, Operations Director at Eazitax Ltd. describes the digital accounts process which is dictated by the regulation coming into force in 2019: ‘The Thomson Reuters OnBalance solution takes care of this. Our clients use it daily to input their income and expense data, we also use Onvio in conjunction with OnBalance to pull that data though on our end. It’s very straightforward – we first set up projects that then flow through to OnBalance, which then alerts our clients that they need to press a button to release their data to us.’
Jolene also highlights the importance of communication when any change is made: ‘We always try to keep our clients in the loop of what we are doing. Once we’ve completed a job or procedure, we send a letter informing them of exactly what we’ve done, where they stand and what they need to do next.’
More Tech Talk…
Read the full interviews with Freddie Faure, Jolene Hutton, Mark Broadhead and Edward Corrigan to get their full story. For more monthly updates with accounting professionals, follow our Tech Talk series with AccountingWEB.