AdvanceTrack makes its third visit to speak to accounting practices about managing their clients and team in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. While lockdown has eased, it certainly isn’t business as usual – with our practitioners formulating plans for the immediate future, and longer-term.

 

Bruce Burrowes, founder, Kingston Burrowes

It has been four months since lockdown, and a lot has changed since then. How has your firm been since we spoke a few weeks ago?

There has been lots of communication, particularly where clients have needed funding. For ourselves, we moved from four offices into three – which involved consolidating two of them. It’s been a really busy time.

The main focus of the last few weeks is getting compliance work undertaken that might have been put off during the first few weeks of lockdown, alongside bedding the new office in. Clearly that has meant encouraging people back ‘into’ the office – one they’ve not been in before.

Thankfully, the new office space is
more than big enough to accommodate
six staff and practice safe social distancing. A team member has managed the day-to-day issues.

The main problem we have had is typical teething problems of being in a new office – we had to wait for new monitors to arrive.

A key part of our ongoing dialogue with team members has been: ‘It’s OK to tell colleagues if they’re too close or make you uncomfortable.’ Where an office had to hot-desk to allow for social distancing, little things such as assigning everyone their own wireless keyboard has helped make a difference.

Clients have been grateful for us keeping up communication lines with them – even if it’s been to say ‘we’re really busy and we’ll speak tomorrow’.

One person moved during this time, which has meant reallocating work, but that’s opened my eyes to some of the existing team members’ efforts and technical ability.

 

What about the agenda going forward?

We know that some people want to come in and physically see us to discuss their personal tax return. But as a management accountant by qualification I think I can lead my team to demonstrate support – and communicate – online if need be. We can’t discount online communications because we can’t have a trail of people coming into our offices. So we need to make that work.

 

And what about the medium to longer term?

My firm didn’t charge clients for furloughing support, up until June. We’ve then had conversations that begin with: ‘Well, we’ve helped you out for quite a while…’ Clients have realised what a proper relationship is with an accountant. Well, I’m not going to go crazy with pushing remote working, that’s for sure. Our trainees require – and will continue to require – close contact with more experienced team members to learn and grow. That learning osmosis won’t happen with remote working. For example, I saw one small issue that took four hours to deal with over email.

We’re seeing the split now between businesses that are getting back on their feet and looking to push on, and those that are still pushed back and furloughing. There’s still plenty of support required for them over the coming months.

 

 

Nikki Adams, CEO, Ad Valorem

It has been four months since lockdown when we last spoke, and a lot has changed since then. How has your firm and its clients been?

We didn’t furlough anyone. It was a conscious decision that we didn’t want to and we didn’t need to do that. We were in a good position before it happened so there was no compelling financial need to do so. The biggest operational challenge for us was furloughing coming into play – the speed that everything was changing. It was a case of getting to grips with things… The team are used to being the ones that know everything and confident in what they say – but we had no time, so it was stressful. Thankfully we have a big enough team to provide support where required; in this instance, to support payroll.

It really paid off for us, because we used people for different things as it progressed. Our admin team helped with client comms. We charged for furloughing support where they wanted us to do it on their behalf. For us it was beyond basic payroll support.

We’re now back in the office with half the team rotating with the other. There’s also a skeleton staff in all the time and a few people not in at all. We’ve actually recruited six people during lockdown – they were primarily very good accountants and technicians who had found themselves furloughed and weren’t happy about it. They’re experts in tax, R&D and digital.

 

What about the agenda going forward?

 There’s been no noticeable dip in enquiries; in fact, we’ve won some big accounts – where their accountant doesn’t have a digital focus. Some accountants have been hard to get hold of or have even shut down – it is difficult for the smallest practitioners without resource.

Our workplace has become almost like a clubhouse where you come specifically to collaborate or train. Most people want 50/50 between working from home and the office. We’re outcomes-focused so that helps provide flexibility.

 

 

And what about the medium to longer term?

We’d taken on extra office space. There’s an argument about needing it, but we feel it will be our flagship – a central focus that has energy and buzz and where we can exchange ideas. And what about the medium to longer term?

The medium term is not so great though, without face-to-face. It makes training really difficult.

We’ve also placed 130 clients from a previous acquisition onto our systems, so that’s exciting.

We’ve certainly noticed that the value piece has come back. Clients understanding what we can do for them. Some wanted to ease back because things were tough, and they’ve realised how important we are in getting them back on their feet so have changed their mind.

Finally: people. We want more – good ones.

 

 

Brendon Howlett, operations director, Wood and Disney

It has been four months since lockdown, and we’ve previously caught up twice. How has your firm been since we spoke a few weeks ago?

 It’s been much more settled. Businesses are releasing people from furlough, and for others the shutters have been coming down. We’re also seeing business trying to do different things to diversify. We’ve had tax and furloughing – the waters have been a bit muddied there with July payments in terms of how and who we bill, but we expect clients to pay if they can afford it.

From our perspective we still have everyone in at full capacity – and we’re still using the team at AdvanceTrack to undertake tasks for us. We are behind compared to the budget at the start of the year but our heads are above water.

Communication has started to change. We’re moving away from the shock of what happened four months ago and people are going back to work. There had been so much info and assistance – it has been really good for new business and new clients, so we decided to continue a high level of communication as much as possible. We’re still using Zoom, but have to balance that out with getting on with general workload as we had fallen behind.

I personally thought that a lot of our routine work would fall off, but our team have been able to hammer home self-assessment returns. I think that the typical late filers have had time on their hands and got this off their back. It’s also enabled us to have conversation about their general finances.

 

What about the agenda going forward?

Discussions about understanding cashflow and accounts are leading to financing conversations. And then there’s improving ongoing financial reporting. Where there’s uncertainty then we have to help clients plan –
it’s on us as advisers to make that happen.

 

And what about the medium to longer term?

Most of our A-list clients like the regular dialogue… even if they say we’re fine let’s speak soon, checking in on them helps. So…linked to this communication piece, we’re thinking about how we present this pro-active support – supporting the client journey is fine but how we market that is a big thing going forward. And what about the medium to longer term?

Part of that will be reinforcing to clients that
we can communicate with them quickly so they can act quickly. We’ve also got to keep showing our human side in that process to maintain and build trust.

In the April, we spoke to practices about their approach to managing clients and their practice in lockdown. We revisited them after two months to find out what happened and how they see the next few months shaping up.

Bruce Burrowes, founder, Kingston Burrowes

How have the past two months been since lockdown began? Have things panned out for your firm as predicted?

I think we basically got it right. A great deal of effort has gone into talking to our clients, maintaining communication, talking about the changes, the funding available and supporting clients. We’ve had two clients cease trading but they voluntarily shut their business down – otherwise everyone else is still on board.

Big changes were made to how our people worked. It has been a bit more settled but now it’s about getting back to work, the ‘new normal’.

We now have three offices rather than four – but that was part of a long-term plan to better manage our operations – and included moving into a new, bigger site in Cheam. The plan was for this to be live just before Easter, which got delayed to the end of May – not because of the build but just because the desk manufacturer closed.

 

What is now on the agenda moving forward?

Well, now it’s about getting clients back into the flow of managing regular compliance tasks such as accounts and tax returns.

Our personal tax team has the self-assessment stuff in hand. On companies, it’s about trying to keep ahead of things; VAT, accounts have to come in. If you delay accounts because the information hasn’t come in, you don’t get that time back. So it is being mindful about letting clients know we’re still here and work needs to be done – it’s a similar message for our own team.

The huge thing, though, is getting people back into the offices. That is the same for us and clients. Where they’ve asked us for legal, human resources and health & safety advice, we have contacts we can refer them to.

Our biggest challenge is getting people back in – they must realise that face-to-face is so important, either for day-to-day tasks or managing clients. I’ve realised that even as government guidance relaxes, there has to be a mindset among people that they want to come back to work… if you don’t get that they won’t come back. Clients will have the same problems. Conversely, some people can’t wait to get back in.

 

 Are you able to undertake longer-term planning? How do you see the medium term?

This is normally my planning and budgeting time – so the coronavirus has taken that out a bit. We are involved in helping with funding and have had a few more enquiries on that front – something for me to consider.

From a tech perspective we’re in quite a good position; our investments in IT paid off. The investment allowed staff to be productive at home. We have a good understanding of both the applications we need to run, plus the hardware requirements. It has not been without challenges – such as dealing with ad-hoc IT issues remotely – but we’re on it.

The most immediate client-facing tasks will be around helping sort through and manage their Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) claims.

 

Brendon Howlett, operations director, Wood and Disney

How have the past two months been since lockdown began? Have things panned out for your firm as predicted?

It’s been well beyond the norm. We’ve had to speak to insolvency practitioners and lawyers and be brutally honest with some businesses. It went as good as it could, I guess. We felt as a team that our focus should be purely on client communication: calls, ‘hand-holding’, listening and sometimes just simply being there. We were, in tandem, sifting through the deluge of information from the government and various accounting bodies to understand what options were available. We had daily calls with a good number of our clients, others on a weekly basis.

As practitioners we’ve had to sacrifice our time. I’d justify it as an investment. Clients have been understandably coming to us for help – and we are the people they should come to. It does reach a point where it’s not sustainable as pro-bono; we have to operate as a business, too.

Furloughing helped as there was a lot of work to do and it was more straightforward to bill for while easily demonstrating value.

 

 What is now on the agenda moving forward?

We’ve said to our team that we understand the majority of our clients will be able to continue with a retainer – but that might dry up after that…so use the information we have on them, plus the extra communication, as an opportunity to understand what’s going on. Opportunities will come from helping clients move on and grow. We also know they’ll talk about us to other people – and we’re picking up some other work where their accountant has either let them down, or they haven’t heard from them.

Early on we did our cashflow budgeting and impact on our firm. We have also looked at our clients and undertaken a ‘z-score’ methodology, looking at their balance sheets and grading them. Then it’s the more serious discussions about ‘where your business is now’ and devising strategies to come through this.

Generally, we’d look at it as almost a given that clients we’re working with will want to grow. Some will struggle – it won’t necessarily be ‘the end’ for them but we need to do something about it and do it quickly. This coronavirus has sharpened the focus on tracking survivability.

 

Are you able to undertake longer-term planning? How do you see the medium term?

It’s going to be a tough few years. We’re quite a lean team at the moment and our focus will be on looking after existing clients and attracting new ones. Communication will be crucial and will remain at a high level.

We won’t focus solely on compliance services – there has to be more advisory work. We also want to grow our practice, so will need to keep the sales funnel working. We would like to think referrals will keep on coming but you can’t guarantee that or predict.

We have been able to build emotional connections with our clients… now’s the time to strengthen those connections through stepping up our digital marketing.

 

Alastair Barlow, founding partner, flinder

 How have the past two months been since lockdown began? Have things panned out for your firm as predicted?

Uncertainty was at the fore. We had no idea how our clients were going to draw back from us, or react with their employees. We were expanding and had just taken on two new team members, so we on-boarded them during the lockdown. With expansion in mind, the team knew we were unlikely to furlough anyone ourselves; it would be more a case of not hiring anyone else for the time being.

While our use of tech is high, we realised it would be stressful working from home for a prolonged period, so we tried to make it as comfortable and health-focused as possible – such as using a proper work chair rather one in the dining room.

As we’re London-based, we made a decision pre-lockdown to go fully working from home. If team members got ill travelling in and shared it with everyone else, it would have been disastrous. I think the move was pretty much seamless – MacBooks at home and phones as well – internet-enabled comms channels are already fully used. It has, however, been far more prolonged than we hoped for.

As such, some WFH situations can’t really continue – so we’re looking at co-working spaces nearer the teams’ home where possible.

From a mental health and wellbeing perspective we run ‘self reflections’ on a Friday. Our people opening up about what’s on their mind and how they feel. We also hold weekly Pulse surveys with questions, which help us gauge an overall sense of where we’re at.

From a client perspective we ranked them according to a number of metrics, including cash, exposure to sectors or supply chain and so on. We spoke to them all but with an understanding of their overall risk exposure. It took several weeks for things to unfold and understand the general direction they were heading in.

Our pricing model is flexible and based on consumption… if it increases we will increase fees – if things change adversely or are on pause then we’ll strip back where required. Of course, if we’re strategically advising a client on cash management, then we’d say that cutting our fees would be a false economy.

 

What is now on the agenda moving forward?

 Things are mostly settled with loans in place – we’ll see a greater than average fall of businesses in the overall economy due to repayment issues in the medium-term. Many of our clients are equity-backed, and we think there will still be enough investment around.

One thing we’ve seen slow down is the volume of clients changing accountants to come to us. We’ve picked up a couple of big clients but in a period of uncertainty many will keep as many certain things in place as possible.

We’re seeing more businesses unfurlough, and expect that to increase from the middle of June.

I don’t think rushing people back into the office is our thing – in fact, our lease was ending and we decided against its extension. Our people say they want roughly a 50/50 time split between WFH and being in the office. So we may look at leasing where we can take a bigger room if we have everyone in on a Monday, for example. We won’t do a big bang – we don’t need to take the risk.

We are all, however, missing human contact and interaction. While we leverage tech, we really try and send people out to be embedded with clients; whether it’s on their advisory committees or attending board meetings. Such rich, strategic, interactions are difficult to replicate.

 

Are you able to undertake longer-term planning? How do you see the medium term?

In terms of our service solutions, which revolve around client-centric problem solving, one thing that may be on the agenda is more governance and risk management offerings. It has surfaced a little bit more in the eyes of clients – and some of our team can already deliver it.

Generally, this situation has brought to the fore the concept of advice: what clients really value is speaking to accountants rather than receiving a set of accounts.

A phrase heard at an accounting conference led Nikki Adams, director at Ad Valorem, and her managing partner to change tack in their approach to running their practice and now, with AdvanceTrack’s help, they’re reaping the rewards

Nikki, tell us about your practice

We were a traditional practice in terms of our offering – although myself and managing partner Nigel Adams came from industry. Our practice did the same as others for the first eight years, but we got fed up – we weren’t making enough money and it was hard.

After attending a national accounting conference, we changed our focus, and our mantra became making the business ‘scaleable and saleable’. We set out to create a £2m practice… clients wanted tax so we looked to build that as a specialism.

Our practice is more advisory-led and includes a strong R&D tax claims service. We also consider ourselves more commercially-focused than many other practices.

 

When did you start using AdvanceTrack, and why?

As a practice we’d struggled getting our head around ‘the cloud’ at the start, and how we’d implement it. We were frustrated and a bit behind the curve. Then we set up a ‘Millennial Club’; under-25s who said what they thought the practice of the future would be – and they’ve led our cloud offering.

In 2016 we started bringing in cloud clients and convert existing clients. We now have ten new clients a month coming in.

The only way to handle this was having the AdvanceTrack offering to manage our rate of growth.

We’re very open with clients as to how and where the work’s done. If clients want advisory, we’d rather them spend money on advice than their bill being simply for putting a set of accounts together.

 

What impact has AdvanceTrack had on the running of your practice?

It has enabled us to allow more junior members of staff to access clients earlier in their career – becoming ‘client managers’ as ‘assistant accountants’. Even a trainee will have a portfolio of clients for whom they’re responsible. Our consistent message is we want to have client contact.

We see our teams as having a client manager, assistant accountant, trainee and then AdvanceTrack supporting them as part of that team.

 

What is the future for your practice? What are you looking to achieve, and how?

We know that offshoring didn’t work for us, so the benefit of AdvanceTrack is that it is up to (AdvanceTrack MD) Vipul to get the right people – we don’t directly have that concern about talent.

We also know that the accounts production side of things is taken care of. We can fill the ‘client hopper’ without worrying about capacity. It then enables us to pay our staff well, which is crucial in a very difficult recruitment market.

We want to get to £10m in revenues seven years from now. We wouldn’t be able to contemplate this without knowing that AdvanceTrack is by our side every step of the way.

This issue we are delighted to speak to an office manager for a successful accounting franchise about his work with AdvanceTrack, including how its growth plans will be easier to implement

Q: Please tell us about your practice

A: I have worked with my practice for nearly eight years. We have four staff, 500 clients and are based in northern UK. We have grown steadily year-on-year.

Q: When did you start using AdvanceTrack, and why?

A: We had previously used another outsourcer, but it was time to change. We needed an alternative that could provide a great service level. We are using AdvanceTrack for accounts preparation.

Q: What impact has AdvanceTrack had on the running of your practice?

A: It has been a significant help to us. It has created a very systematised approach to transacting through AdvanceTrack’s portal, so even the small matter of an out-of-office will see the transaction details sent to another one of my staff.

Q: How are we better/different from other service providers?

A: In summary, I would say that it has been much easier to work with AdvanceTrack than our previous outsourcing provider. The information we receive back from you is in an easier-to-use, simpler and understandable format. And we would absolutely consider outsourcing other areas of our offering to you.

Q: What is the future for your practice? What are you looking to achieve, and how?

A: Technology is moving very fast – and we have Making Tax Digital around the corner. We need to be quick to respond to change and embrace technology – and that fits well working with AdvanceTrack. Tech is moving towards the cloud for keeping records, and then there is the enforced changes from HMRC to content with. I wouldn’t actually say that what our clients want is changing rapidly, although it is evolving. But both we and our clients want growth, and information presented to us all in an easy-to-use format.

Paul Barnes is the managing director of My Accountancy Place, which provides accounting and finance services to digital agencies. The practice, which operates with two directors and 15 staff, uses AdvanceTrack® to free up its team to provide deeper and more valuable services to clients. He explains the practice’s strategy, and development beyond compliance work.

Paul, tell us about your practice

We are a niche firm based in Manchester. We only service one industry: digital agencies providing marketing, creative and digital services, predominantly in the North West. We turn away those that don’t fit that. Our practice works using Xero technology.We have moved from being a ‘good, proactive firm of accountants’ to a full finance outsourced function. Rather than clients building their own finance team, we provide the full finance function. This encompasses strategy, financial control, making sure their systems run smoothly, and bookkeeping. My team works across clients (from our office), but spend a lot of their time with those clients in their offices.We can do just compliance, but we can do the whole lot. We bring industry expertise and systems expertise to the table as well.

When did you start using AdvanceTrack®, and why?

We started My Accountancy Place in 2014, and began using AdvanceTrack® in mid-2015. For the compliance function and historical accounting services that we provide, these are becoming more and more commoditised. It was an opportunity for us – we have real skills to grow and improve our clients’ businesses but were restricted by the amount of compliance and bookkeeping work.So, we streamlined that offering and outsourced, allowing our team to spend more time on the more rewarding and challenging work that truly makes a difference to our client’s businesses. For the value provided by AdvanceTrack® in terms of cost and service level, it was a complete no-brainer. It has removed the headache of managing that service, and we can use highly-qualified accountants from the start with our clients.

What impact has AdvanceTrack® had on the running of your practice?

Everyone in the practice has moved up a gear or two in terms of what they can give clients. When you sign up new customers, the on-boarding process can be challenging and you’re under pressure to provide value straight away. Now we can map out clients’ processes straight away – then that becomes an ongoing task run through AdvanceTrack® and it just repeats.We then get on with our job of advising clients. Anything non-client-facing goes to AdvanceTrack®; some of that is complex work but AdvanceTrack® can do it. Straight away we can start improving the clients’ business.

What is the future for your practice? What are you looking to achieve, and how?

There is still a lot of confusion in the accountancy market around what ‘advisory’ is all about. For us it’s about simplifying the journey the business goes on. We want to illustrate that journey through our own IP, delivered through workbooks, guides and workshops… moving the client away from the office and allowing them to focus on strategy and growth and to help them short-cut the mistakes and bad investments. We’re seeing small businesses now starting to expect what big businesses expect from their professional advisers, and they have every right to. Speak to AdvanceTrack® about helping you create a modern and pro table practice. Call us on +44(0)24 7601 6308 or email advice@advancetrack.com.

AdvanceTrack client Wood and Disney is a two- director practice based in Colchester, Essex. The practice badges itself as ‘real-time accountants’, using cloud accounting technology to access client data in real-time – so it can provide proactive and timely advice. We spoke to operations director Brendon Howlett about how AdvanceTrack® has helped his practice develop.

Brendon, tell us about your practice

Peter Disney and I set the practice up in July 2013, and we head up a team of eight. We’ve been paperless for years – we love innovation – and won Most Innovative Practice (2-4 partner firm) in 2020’s Innovation Awards two years ago. We took the decision six months ago to focus solely on the cloud.

We use various cloud accounting packages, having taken the view that clients with paper bags of receipts, spreadsheets, hybrids are not the sort of clients we want. This is especially the case particularly when you consider Making Tax Digital, with four times a year reporting. Any client we take on, we say: “You have to be in the cloud.” We facilitate – all staff are Xero and QuickBooks certified advisers. There are training sessions for clients if needed, or we take on the bookkeeping as well, which is where AdvanceTrack® fits in.

When did you start using AdvanceTrack®, and why?

We’d seen [AdvanceTrack® founder] Vipul, had a good chat, then decided to use it as resource that will free up capacity. We commenced in June 2016. At the time, we couldn’t afford to give the client a competitive service to do the bookkeeping – we’d found a couple of bookkeepers locally, but they also reached capacity.

Our practice first outsourced accounts prep to AdvanceTrack®. It was a flexible arrangement at the start, but we loved it. We took it a step further with the bookkeeping.

What impact has AdvanceTrack® had on the running of your practice?

We had one client in London who was always last-minute on VAT returns, accounts ling, tax. We said: “This can’t go on.” They wanted to find someone to do the bookkeeping – we said that approach would cost them a lot and be an unknown quantity. They became our first client through AdvanceTrack®. We now have a weekly fee with the client, and we’re all happy.

That job, for example, runs itself. It frees up so much of our time from mundane historical data and getting it right – we’re now on top of it on a weekly basis.

Another example: a bank we speak to had a client that wanted a loan, but their accountant hadn’t sorted out their previous year-end data. We showed the bank examples of how we can keep up-to-date records, and now they’re our best friends.

What is the future for your practice? What are you looking to achieve, and how?

When the noise got louder on MTD, we took the view to write to all clients and say: “This is going to happen, how will you cope?” Part of the solution is to use cloud accounting and if we can get the data right at the basic level – we’re working with AdvanceTrack® to get that right – numbers can then be analysed. From good analysis, the client and us can make better decisions. This should lead to better results, giving our clients better businesses and all of us a better life.

This 15-partner regional practice needed to free up time for tax staff.

The major problem the firm had, as with many firms was a peak of work from around September to January. This meant that advisory work suffered delivery delays during this period.

How did AdvanceTrack’s approach appeal?

Experienced UK Chartered Accountants and Chartered Tax Advisers run the business. The secure AdvanceTrack® system enabled the client to manage the work

So, were the client’s expectations met?

The jobs have been coming back this week, we’re really pleased with the quality and find the working papers very useful. Once I import the file back into CCH, all the standing data re-appears…”

On discussing the service with the client manager, they confirmed jobs were approved within 5 minutes of receiving them. The firm sees ongoing value in using this service as the firm has used the service since 2008.

Having completed their due diligence, AdvanceTrack® were selected. With tax returns for c£40 – £50, our teams allow your team to add extra profits and/or drive better client service.

 

AdvanceTrack selected in a competitive process as long-term outsourcing partner for this multi-partner multi-office practice.

This Top firm conducted a review of all the major outsourcers. Having completed their due diligence, were selected. Some of their reasons are listed here:

Why was Outsourcing important to the future of the firm?

  • To provide additional capacity at certain times of the year
  • Recruitment in the area is difficult so to reduce the number of new staff required in the future
  • To provide a more process-driven approach to exercises such as accounts production
  • To offer trainees and staff more interesting and challenging work
  • To save money as a result of the above

Why were AdvanceTrack® chosen?

  • The fact you were based up the road, in the UK and accessible within an hour or so
  • The fact that having trained with Rabjohns and then worked for other UK practices you fully understand the type of work that we do and the pressures and issues facing us as a firm
  • The simplicity of your AdvanceTrack® system
  • The professional attitude of the staff

Sole Practitioner sees professional results by moving to AdvanceTrack.

We approached this firm about Outsourcing.

They were sceptical given their previous experience.

Here are their thoughts:

“Prior to using AdvanceTrack® we did use another outsourcing provider. The frustration was the lack of understanding of UK accountancy and basic principles. We would receive work back to have to spend a great deal of time unravelling what had been outsourced. We finally chose AdvanceTrack® due to the attention to detail and superior tracking system. Having used AdvanceTrack® for some time now we have been very impressed with the level of professionalism and understanding of UK accounting principles. We feel we are dealing with professional accountants for the first time.”

We asked this two office partnership for some feedback on their reasons to outsource and why they selected AdvanceTrack®.

1. Why did you decide to outsource?

The decision to outsource was made primarily as a result of a lot of maternity leave hitting us at the same time, together with our historic curiosity surrounding outsourcing as a potential option for our practice that had never been acted upon.

The time seemed right therefore to give it a go.  The advancement in scanning technology was also instrumental in making the decision as this was no longer the administrative burden that it was previously.

2. Reasons why you hadn’t tried it before.

We had heard some good stories but also many bad experiences from other companies who had used outsourcing.

3. The reservations you had before trying it

The quality of the work which would be returned, the administration burden of scanning documents, the unknown, we are accountants and we don’t deal with change very well

4. What made you overcome those reservations and why AdvanceTrack®?

Having known Vipul for a few years made the decision to outsource a little easier. AdvanceTrack® using the same accounting packages that we used also helped make the decision easier as we would not have to load the returned data onto our system ourselves.

The trial jobs went very well and the quality of the work exceeded our initial expectations.

5. How have the staff taken to outsourcing and where next in the development of outsourcing with your practice?

Initially there was a mixed reception amongst our staff as some obviously feared for their own job security, however once it was explained the reason why this decision was taken and the change in their roles to one of more value added work rather than pure compliance their opinions quickly changed.

Our next steps are therefore to utilise our own staff more efficiently on client work and look to outsource the pure compliance function wherever possible allowing us to become a more profitable firm.

6. What’s the greatest benefit you have got from using AdvanceTrack®?

The obvious answer would be the cost benefit which is of significant importance, however by outsourcing the compliance function, it is now allowing us the opportunity to give our existing staff more exciting work on clients allowing them to personally develop and maximise our return on our existing client base.