Accountants, do you have SOS (Software Overload Syndrome)?
Updated: Feb 16
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ll be no stranger to the spiralling number of apps available for accountants today to build up their tech stack. I’m also guessing you’re more than likely suffering SOS (Software Overload Syndrome or perhaps even Shiny Object Syndrome – read on you’ll see).
Well, there’s a new breed of accountant in town, they’re called the 1% crew and they’ve got a remedy…..that works. So, how do the top 1% of small accountancy business owners, select the right technology for their business? It’s not because they have superhuman powers (although I’d argue that they do). No, it’s because they are focused on one thing, the client.
I spoke to Marie Donaldson, Founder of Fresh Clarity and champion of the customer obsession, to find out how she has built her Client Deck of technology.
Who are your target clients?
[Marie] Well, we work with owner managed businesses with a turnover between £200,000 – £1m. They are people who have set their own business up from scratch and got so far with little support, but things are starting to creak. They’re the owners who lie awake at night worrying about whether the business is doing ok. They’re family orientated and tend to put themselves last as they’re always struggling to find the right balance between their business and personal lives.
Why do your target clients choose you?
[Marie] Our clients choose us because we specialise in working with small businesses. Everything we do is tailored towards our client’s needs, addressing their challenges and worries, helping them work towards their goals. Our fixed fee pricing is also another reason as we’re very upfront with our costs when we meet with potential new clients so they know exactly what we’re offering, why and how much it will cost. Using GoProposal I am now delivering more value to clients, as well as seeing an increase in chargeable fees, which I wouldn’t have achieved without the software.
What do your clients want from you?
[Marie] Ultimately they want support, they want someone in their corner that can help them get closer to where they want to be. Yes they want the basics such as yearend accounts and tax returns, but they also want to want to know how their business is performing and if there is anything else, they could be doing to help them achieve their goals.
What tech do you currently use?
[Marie] Working with clients we currently use – QuickBooks, Xero, Receipt Bank, Satago, Futrli, Float, Vet One, Go Proposal, The GAP Portal and Diagnostax. In the background we also use Senta, Infusionsoft, scheduleonce, Taxfiler and Brightpay.
What prompted you to go out and search for the tech you have adopted?
[Marie] The technology we have adopted, is all centred around being able to offer more to our clients without needing to grow a big team. To do this, we needed to identify software that would bring efficiencies and new services for our clients.
Why did you choose each of these individual bits of tech?
[Marie] One of the main reason’s for selecting the technology we have, is because they are cloud based. This means we can use them anywhere we have internet connection and we’re looking at the same information as the client. There’s no waiting for backups or hard copy invoices. Everything is recorded in QuickBooks/Xero and with Receipt Bank sending the images across to the bookkeeping software we spend less time chasing clients for answers on transactions.
But at a top level, QuickBooks and Xero both allow the client to see in real time what’s happening financially in their business, meaning they can make more informed and timely decisions. Through Futrli, Float, The GAP Portal and Diagnostax, I am now providing additional services to assist my clients in achieving their business goals and really adding value to their business.
Do you have a process you follow when determining what tech to adopt?
[Marie] The first thing we ask ourselves is, what benefit will this bring to the client, or ourselves if it’s something to use internally. We then look at the cost – is it cost effective? We’d also look at reviews and the support offered by the supplier. If everything looks positive, we’d then trial the software looking at the functionality. If we liked what we saw during the trial we’d then pick a few clients to show it to and gather their opinion.
What tech has enabled you to deliver more to your clients?
[Marie] Receipt Bank has enabled us to really streamline the bookkeeping process so we can turn things around quickly at month end as we’re able to carry out the bookkeeping on a weekly basis. By utilising the features in Receipt Bank, we can automate quite a lot where there are regular suppliers.
Futrli has really enhanced what we can offer in terms of management information and cashflow forecasting as there are no more unwieldy spreadsheets to manage.
Diagnostax has been a great tool for engaging clients to talk about tax properly, and the systematic approach means you draw out even more tax advisory opportunities than you normally would.
Is there any tech you like, that you have chosen not to use? If so, why?
[Marie] Where we have chosen to look at a piece of tech but decide not to go ahead even though we like it, it’s usually because there isn’t enough demand for its use across our clients, or that there’s too much overlap with other products we use. It’s easy to be bombarded with amazing tech but you’ve got to make a business decision about it.
What three tips would you share when building your client deck?
[Marie] (1) Always put the client at the heart of the decision – I’m guilty of bright shiny object syndrome but by putting the client at the heart of my decision it avoids buying software that never gets used. (2) Make the time to properly trial the software – I’ve signed up for numerous software trials and not put the time aside to properly trial them which is pointless. (3) Ask clients what they think, if it’s a piece of software you’re going to expect them to engage with it’s important that you get their opinion.
Thanks for sharing your Tech Stack with us Marie, the approach is simple but extremely powerful, ‘always put the client at the heart of the decision’. Here, here!
Give Marie a follow on LinkedIn, she records lots of great videos and is always sharing valuable insight.
Did you find this useful? Well… we’ve released a premium downloadable eBook, “6 steps to select the tech your clients really want from you” that deep dives into the topic!