As an avid football fan and, when I was younger, a very keen footballer, it’s appropriate to comment on the amazing Lionesses.

I would usually watch WSL after Match of the Day on TV, late on a weekend. 

As a number of you will know, I am a Liverpool fan and have talked about Jurgen Klopp’s achievement in driving Liverpool to their first league title in 30 years – namely, it wasn’t quick or easy, requiring a couple of iterations.

Who’s on your team, and who needs coaching to be a valuable member of your team. Strong values, strong strategy.

Therefore, I think it’s appropriate to highlight the impact that the Lionesses’ coach Sarina Wiegman has had on the England team; and the subsequent impact that the team itself will have on young girls and boys across the country.

Many people don’t appreciate that she was a very accomplished player in her own right, playing 104 times for the Netherlands – including as captain. This, and her exceptional record as an international and club manager, meant Wiegman had exceptional credentials for managing the England team. And, she did it with the same 11 players starting each game.

For me, this shows two important aspects:

  • A clear vision of what she wanted the team to achieve; and 
  • A total trust in the team that started the games, alongside faith in the substitutes’ ability to positively impact the team.

Getting to this stage with the players she chose wasn’t plastered over social media or daily updates. She quietly got on with the job and instilled confidence within the group. She also made the decision to change the captain, knowing that Leah Williamson was the new face of the team. Steph Houghton had been important, but the team was moving forward and Wiegman illustrated it with the appointment. 

What is also clearly evident is that the team really enjoy the game. Most of us who have ever kicked a ball have done so because we love it (my mother often found me at dusk kicking a ball around the local park with my friends). That joy, allied with skill, made it clear that the England team were mentally prepared to run through walls for each other.

And for anyone who doubts their ability, they need only look at Russo’s goal in the semi-finals or Toone’s in the final. Any player, at whatever level, would be proud to have scored them. One of the commentators at the weekend said boys and girls would be practising Russo’s move on parks and gardens across the country. 

But will there be a deeper impact on young boys and girls from this tournament? 

What I hope will happen is that boys will see girls as having an equal right to take part in a game. PE teachers across the country need to grasp this opportunity; and it doesn’t have to relate directly to just football.

Parents also have an important role in ensuring that stereotypes don’t continue beyond today. I for one will also make sure I take my daughter to more women’s games this coming season.

And, as someone who has run a business for 20 years, I appreciate the hard work, vision and strategy that has gone into this achievement – let alone the people management. AdvanceTrack is really coming into its own: a busy and happy workforce, engaged clients and top-level tech and security. I certainly appreciate the highs, lows, and time it can take to be successful.

England brought it home. I’m looking forward to the Women’s World Cup next year. I’ll also be watching Qatar 2022. Let’s hope both teams bring the same joy to us all, that all football fans across the land want. Teams playing with a smile on their face and ones that put a smile on the fans’ faces. 

It’s been quite a week for the accountancy profession. It’s been one in which (I hope) AdvanceTrack has played its part – and I hope some certainty has been provided to outsourcing as a critical part in the profession’s future.

The second week of May saw what were the first ‘unrestricted’ major events for accountants take place in the UK since Covid-19 struck.

We hosted our AdvanceTrack conference on 10 May, which then led into Accountex across 11 and 12 May.

Technology tends to ‘leap forward’, certainly when it comes to its use in professional services. And there are a number of reasons for that, but primarily it comes down to firms becoming ‘used’ to doing things in certain ways, for certain clients.

For the accountancy profession, change is iterative and focused on the client i.e. keeping up to date with the latest accounting and tax legislation and their impact. Every so often, the changes put in place are seismic enough to drive firms to change how they do things. The push for online tax filing over the past 20 years has seen paper-based returns (almost) a thing of the past.

More recently, disruption came in the form of the pandemic, which required us all to embrace digital communication beyond just emails.

The conferences held last week were enormous fun and also insightful. Meeting people face-to-face always is, even more so after such a long hiatus. The AdvanceTrack conference’s theme was about you, your team and your practice growing. Discussion about ‘value-added’ services was never far away.

MTD to advisory?

Accountex was very much of a similar vein, there was plenty of discussion around ‘how can I manage Making Tax Digital for Income Tax Self-Assessment?’

I believe that growing your practice, while ‘dealing with MTD’ can be dealt with in similar ways. And that’s because the issues are similar. For advisory services, broadening your offering requires efficiencies and process – these in turn free up resource to get to know existing (or new) clients better – to have the conversations that open the door to new things.

MTD certainly isn’t as much ‘fun’ – or, it seems on the face of it that there’s not a lot of positives to be gleaned from many of your clients increasing the amount of reporting they have to undertake. Your people are not in a position to quadruple the amount of prepping and checking they can do. However, increasing the number of touchpoints with a client could well pay dividends longer-term if you can leverage that communication towards your service proposition.

Firms need to recruit both number-crunchers and those who can provide further analysis and ultimately higher-value services. For us at AdvanceTrack, we see our offering as critical in supporting practices – whether it’s gaining efficiencies or scaling up your service (both are interlinked).

Our tech and people enable firms to solve their recruitment woes, keep on top of new tech and processes, and ultimately providing the best client service. Don’t let the people war, or MTD, drag your practice down. Join the many others that are growing their offering by growing their links with us.

I’d be delighted to talk about what they’re doing and how you can do it too. Book a call. 

Vipul Sheth is founder and MD of AdvanceTrack Outsourcing

Conference season is fast-approaching… and that brings about a mix of emotions.

For some, it’s an exciting time to meet and greet, to find out about new technologies, and attend insightful sessions. It is a tiring time, too, and ‘conference fatigue’ can set in quite quickly.

While there were some events last year, they were very much within the context of Covid restrictions. This year feels like it will be the first conference season ‘proper’ since 2019.

I recently wrote a blog on why communication and strong relationships are absolutely vital to what we do at AdvanceTrack. It is therefore logical that myself and the team love to take the opportunities provided to meet people across at events time.

On 10 May we have our own annual conference, taking place at the National Gallery in London. We want you, your people and your practice to grow, and that will be the focus of discussions on the day. We’ve a host of speakers on board, including Paul Shrimpling, Matt Flanagan, and Aynsley Damery – while the major software platforms will also be represented.

Across 11-12 May we have the one and only Accountex. I’m really looking forward to discussing tech and outsourcing as ‘essential components of a great practice’, from the Accountants in Practice Theatre at 1600.

Then there’s Xerocon across 20-21 July, where we shall also be exhibiting.

Some people struggle to value the opportunity to attend such events. And, as I mentioned earlier, they can be very tiring – and chaotic.

Ultimately, it’s impossible to learn about new technology, understand how it will fit into your organisation, meet vendors and service providers, and sign on the dotted line, all in a day. Attending a conference gives you an opportunity to build some insight, network with people you haven’t seen for a while (if at all), and look into the whites of the eyes of vendors – perhaps you have a tough question to put to them, or need something clarifying about their proposition.

In others words, these events are stepping stones in a process, and should also be viewed as supporting your continuing professional development (and your practice’s development).

Whatever stage you are at in your thinking, we would love to see you and have a chat. I’m out and about at these conferences so there are plenty of chances to catch up.

We understand that, as practitioners, a huge part of your offering is around communication and insight – we’d love to share some of our thoughts and advice with you. See you there!

If you haven’t booked a ticket for the AdvanceTrack Conference 2022, this blog will give you an introduction to the speakers you’ll be hearing on the day and an insight into what you’ll learn from them. 

This event will cover every element involved in helping your clients to run more efficient and adaptable businesses, whilst making sure both you and your clients are successful financially. 

Here’s a reminder of the key details:

  • What: The AdvanceTrack Conference 2022 – This year, the conference will be focused on Building clients up in unpredictable times
  • When: Tuesday 10th May 2022 
  • Where: The National Gallery, London (by kind permission of the Trustees and Director of the National Gallery)
  • Cost: £30 and all proceeds will be donated to ohmi.org.uk and rnohcharity.org charities. 

We do ask a small charge for the ticket, but all proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to causes close to our heart. You’ll know charities have really suffered during Covid, and we see an opportunity to have an even bigger impact with our event. 

Meet the speakers

Paul Shrimpling of Remarkable Practice:

Paul’s passion for the accountancy profession was forged in his experience of growing, from scratch, a family manufacturing business.

The annual check-in with his accountant failed to deal with the emotional roller coaster of building the business, surviving two deep recessions and eventually selling the business.

This business education and the 21 years working exclusively with the leaders of accountancy firms underpins Paul’s determination to challenge accountants to better Humanise the Numbers.

Yes, accountancy will always be about the numbers, but accountancy must also be about the people and how they feel about the numbers.

Vipul Sheth, of AdvanceTrack:

Vipul Sheth is the founder and managing director of AdvanceTrack. As a Chartered Accountant, he has set out to change lives from the very beginning. 

“When I was growing up, my parents had the best accountant, someone who brought them critical analysis, business experience and truth. He was there to navigate all the difficult paths for them. This is what an accountant is supposed to do and our job at AdvanceTrack is to make sure that you have the time to do more of that.

We want everyone to be able to be an accountant that doesn’t just do a set of accounts, but is someone who changes lives.”

Matt Flannagan, of Bluehub and Appacus:

Matt Flanagan is the Co-Founder/Head Trainer at Appacus as well as MD at BlueHub. Through his seminars & educational programmes, he helps forward-thinking accountants to get the most out of cloud accounting and the surrounding app ecosystem. 

In his signature programme, The App Advisory Scale, he helps firms to build & implement app advisory services that generate additional revenue. Since 2014, he’s worked with leading Top 100 firms such as Taylorcocks, G+E, BHP and Old Mill, as well as many small to medium-sized firms. 

Matt is recognised as one of the leading voices in the cloud accounting & app ecosystem and is regularly invited to speak by software vendors such as Xero & Dext. You can find out more about Matt and how he can help your firm here.

​​Andrew Jordon of Connect4:

Andrew is the CEO at Connect4. He trained as an accountant in London in Corporate Tax and M&A before working in house as a consultant Finance Controller in the sunny climes of Brisbane. Andrew then switched to software as a member of Fathom’s leadership team, the management reporting tool before going on to found Connect4 in early 2020

Olly Cummings of Capitalise:

Olly joined Capitalise as Commercial Director in our first year, seeing us through three funding rounds. He’s a trained accountant (EY),  an ex-corporate finance professional (Smith & Williamson, HSBC), an ex-venture capitalist (Nauta Partners) and more recently helped establish and scale the partnerships team at MarketInvoice. He’s passionate about helping small businesses get the funding they need, and is a mentor at several small business accelerator programs.

Anneli Thomson of Sandler:

Anneli Thomson is a business development expert, specialising in sales development, growth and management training. Anneli is an award winning, dynamic, enthusiastic speaker who informs, entertains and motivate business owners, Managing Directors, senior managers and professionals.

In her spare time, Anneli is a part of Team Great Britain for Triathlon and competes across the globe.

Aynsley Damery of Clarity:

Aynsley is a chartered accountant, and former founding partner of Tayabali Tomlin, Accounting for Entrepreneurs – a multi award-winning accounting firm that specialised in business advisory. He sold that firm to Crowe in 2018.

He is the founder and CEO of Clarity – a business advisory platform for accountants, that enables more fee earners to offer more advisory services to more clients, more often.

He has advised thousands of businesses around the world and sits as an advisory board member on a number of companies and charities. Aynsley is considered one of the most influential accountants in the UK on social media and is a regular international keynote speaker.

Ian Gregory of AdvanceTrack:

Following an early career in engineering, academia and management consulting, Ian turned his talents to IT, delivering projects to a range of clients in healthcare, manufacturing and professional services and teaching at several leading business schools.

He has worked in over 20 countries for numerous multinational and small businesses, is a published author and has a Doctorate on knowledge transfer into businesses. 

David Hassall of XU Magazine:

David splits his time running a Platinum Xero Partner accountancy practice and XU Magazine, the magazine for Xero users by Xero users. He has been in the accounting industry for 12+ years and has a strong interest in fintech.

Louise Wilson of MoneyPenny:

​​Having been a previous client of Moneypenny, Louise was so impressed with the service quality and inimitable culture that she decided to make the career move and join our Business Development team in 2017.

Louise now heads our finance sector, and it’s thanks to her determination that Moneypenny has a team of dedicated receptionists answering calls and chats for hundreds of accountancy professionals. Her unrivalled experience means she has a profound understanding of the challenges our clients face in outsourcing and growing their firms.

Don’t miss out on our first live event in three years 

This will be our first live, in-person event in three years, and we’d love to see you there! 

The conference is the day before Accountex 2022. Plan to come a day early to get the most out of your time away from the office.

If you’re interested in attending, speak to your client manager for more information. Details of the event can be found here.

With the AdvanceTrack Outsourcing Conference a couple of months away, it felt like a good time to use my blog to set out what the conference is setting out to achieve and, more broadly, put that in context of what’s going on in accountants’ working lives.

The theme of our conference

Essentially, the easiest way of describing what our conference is looking to inform accountants about is ‘building back’. Practices must support their clients through a journey towards some semblance of normality. That means more ‘help’.

Now, I know that practitioners have worked incredibly hard over the last couple of years firefighting on behalf of their clients. They’ve provided with essential government advice and led them through grants, loans and tax deferrals.

But we know that as businesses come out of recession, a lack of cash and resources can see them collapse as they try to regrow. There are other external pressures – inflation, wage pressures, and a government looking to collect more tax more quickly.

Businesses need someone in their corner who will say to them ‘we can help you’ and then ask: ‘how can we help?’ Practices have an existing client base – alongside potential new clients – who want help to both survive and grow. Practices have to be efficient, consistent, and scalable where possible. The rewards for optimal accounting practices are potentially huge.

What delegates can expect

If we continue the discussion, then delivering what is required to the client means your firm will need new skills, new technology, new ways of working and potentially a new strategy. I like to think that we will offer great insight on all these things in the conference.

It’s never a ‘hard outsourcing sell’, that’s not how we work at AdvanceTrack and that’s reflected in the conference programme.

We will broach practice development, what you and your people need to do to be more relevant; to capture the client information (or conversations) that enable practices to serve clients better. Even in an increasingly tech-focused profession we will always acknowledge that if you don’t talk to your clients you won’t know their direction, and therefore be unable to provide them with the support they need. (I recently blogged about why outsourcing is in fact the opposite of ‘being impersonal’). You will hear about all these topics and more.

The near future

We think that our outsourcing services will help you be more efficient and scalable. This in a world where Making Tax Digital will push your practice to have clients with better-organised and up-to-date information.

The AdvanceTrack Outsourcing Conference is being held on 10 May 2022 at the National Gallery. A host of speakers are already confirmed. Please click here to find more details.

On Tuesday, 10th May 2022 we’ll be holding the AdvanceTrack Conference 2022. This year, the conference will be focused on building clients up in unpredictable times. 

If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s the importance of adaptability. You’ve learned so much, and your use of technology has contributed to the highest level of efficiency you’ve ever had in your firm. 

In 2022, our clients will need us more than ever. 

They’re feeling tired and uneasy after serious turmoil. Now, it’s all about truly helping. It’s about delivering a maintained level of support to drive them to do better. 

This event will cover every element involved in helping your clients to run more efficient and adaptable businesses, whilst making sure both you and your clients are successful financially. 

This is a conference for leaders in accounting who want to take away ideas to implement in their own practices. 

What you can expect:

  • Industry insight and support – the whole event will be focused around how you can take action in your firm and begin implementing change in light of recent industry trends.
  • Connections to drive change – Notable speakers from the industry will be available to make connections with and learn from, so you can begin transforming your firm.

Hear from speakers including:

  • Matt Flanagan from Appacus and BlueHub
  • Paul Shrimpling from Remarkable Practice
  • Anneli Thomson from Sandler
  • Vipul Sheth, founder of AdvanceTrack
  • Ian Gregory, CTP of AdvanceTrack
  • Louise Wilson from Moneypenny
  • Andrew Jordan from Connect4
  • Olly Cummings from Capitalise 
  • Aynsley Damery from Clarity

The conference will run a day before Accountex, so you can get the most out of your time away from the office

This will be our first live, in-person event in two years, and we’d love to see you there. We’re really excited to announce the event will take place at the National Gallery* in London on 10th May. 

This means you get to enjoy a stunning landmark venue in London only a day before Accountex, so you can get even more value from your trip to the city!

Bonus: Your ticket cost will make a difference to someone’s life.

We do ask a small charge for the ticket, but all proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to causes close to our heart. Your money will be going to two fantastic charities: ohmi.org.uk and rnohcharity.org. You’ll know charities have really suffered during Covid, and we see an opportunity to have an even bigger impact with our event. 

I hope you’ll join us live and in-person! 

If you’re interested in attending, speak to your client manager for more information. Details of the event can be found here.

*by kind permission of the Trustees and Director of the National Gallery

Accountex Summit UK 2020

The recent online Accountex UK Summit saw AdvanceTrack MD Vipul Sheth lead a 45-minute session giving a really concise and useful roundup of what goes on in the outsourcing industry, and how firms can make outsourcing work for them.

In ‘The good, bad and ugly of offshoring and outsourcing’, Vipul started with ‘the ugly’. There are lots of horror stories told by accountants who have had bad experiences with outsourcing.

“One of the things we often hear is: it doesn’t work. In many cases that can be true,” said Sheth. “One reason is a lack of tech. A lot of people in the industry don’t have the tech to manage outsourcing effectively – whether that’s the firm, or sometimes the outsourcer or offshorer. Without tech it can’t be managed successfully, or at scale.”

The ‘real horror’ is the lack of security protocols in place. “We do hear of outsourcers with little regard to these,” he added. When it comes to ‘the bad’, poor communication between the outsourcer and accountant is at the fore. “We’ve improved over the years,” said Sheth.

Secondly, outsourcing can be seen as a short-term solution to a workflow ‘problem’. “However, this means it’s not usually managed and put together effectively. Outsourcing is not a magic wand to ‘wave’; there needs to be thought.”

For ‘the good’, Sheth said that “we want accountants to go and help their clients more”. “What can you use your extra time created by outsourcing to do? Clients really want your help – and if you can demonstrate value then they will rarely question their fee.

The firms we serve have increased revenues through the pandemic. “They have capacity to drive growth, and offer new services. We’re seeing them offer bookkeeping in the cloud; lots of virtual FD/FC services – getting under the bonnet of client data and feeding back analysis to clients. It gives them a place in clients’ ‘boardroom’,” he concluded.

• Visit https://summit-uk.accountex.co.uk to access this archived recording, along with all the other sessions

It was ‘accountants galore’ on AdvanceTrack’s webinar, ‘Scaling for Growth? Building an Advisory Mindset and Firm’, which discussed the cultural and strategic approach towards making a practice invaluable to its clients.

AdvanceTrack MD Vipul Sheth started the conversation by highlighting the key challenges of changing how a practice – or any organisation – operates. These include altering mindsets, successfully adopting new technology and embedding change into the new normal.

 

“People are fearful of change, and will look to maintain the status quo,” said Sheth. “So leadership is required to change doubters to believers, and champions are needed to keep it all on track.”

Joe David from accountancy firm Nephos said that his background as an accountant in industry gave him a mindset that creating and analysing good data was key in supporting the making of decisions. This led him down the path of creating an advisory- and technology-led practice.

 

Clarity’s Aynsley Damery said that established firms have to go that bit further when it comes to driving change, particularly if ingrained in providing services based purely on clients’ historical information. “It’s about looking forward as a firm, and looking forward on behalf of your clients,” said Damery. He said that ‘champions’ within the firm, who will help instil that mindset while managing change projects, were vital. “They’re so important in terms of connectivity between management and the team – interpreting the vision and how it will work.”

 

Practice Ignition’s Trent McLaren said: “You must set out from the top, across the entire firm, the direction and why you’re changing. You also have to let them know about progression, or you’ll inevitably end up with silos of knowledge.”

Click here to access the webinar.

Some the most popular and well-known advisers and experts have been speaking to AdvanceTrack and accountants about how to lead through the crisis, while reconfiguring your services – and people – in a locked-down world.

 

While physical conferences and get-togethers are currently off limits, that hasn’t stopped AdvanceTrack from running a “mini conference” online via Zoom.

On 28 April, we ran a “Beyond the Pandemic – The Customers Journey”, a 90-minute online seminar, in which experts provided insight about how best to structure your approach to support clients through the crisis, and beyond.

Innovate and communicate

Kicking off the session was AdvanceTrack MD Vipul Sheth. He said that accountants are in a unique position to provide real value to the people they work for – above and beyond a basic and narrow ‘service’.

But they must not rest on their laurels. “The wow of today is the normal of tomorrow,” said Sheth.

Citing the exponential improvements in Amazon’s service provision and constant innovation, he explained that day-to-day consumer experiences influence what people expect from professional services organisations – and they must step up.

“Don’t compare yourself with what other accountants do – consumers and clients are driven by other experiences they have – that represents their expectation,” he said. “So why do you do what you do? You have to deliver value.”

While the coronavirus crisis has proved incredibly disruptive, it has forced accountants and clients to communicate more – albeit via digital online platforms.

“The importance of relationships never goes away,” said Sheth. “And now we see our people increasingly moving up the value chain – with clients and in our business. If you weren’t using Zoom or Teams a month ago, you are now – and these tools are helping you have conversations.”

You might have had two or three client meetings in a day; now you can have ten or 15 – hopefully all incredibly valuable to you and clients, explained Sheth: “Being digital allows you to do that. You’re doing things a lot quicker, communicating more – so take the digital journey.”

Invest in relationships

Karen Reyburn, founder of The Profitable Firm, gave an inspirational talk focusing on the relationship-building you will inevitably be doing at the moment. And that, while billing and charging is a difficult and thorny task at the moment, you are investing in potentially keeping clients for a lifetime.

“Some things have changed in the crisis, some things haven’t,” she said. “Relationships… it’s always important to invest in client relationships.”

Putting yourself ‘out there’ will also engender positive sentiment towards you and your firm from potential clients and other working partners.

“So many of you are already spending time on the things that build relationships – sharing information, blogs, videos… just get it out there! You will get enquiries if you’re doing those things. You are on the front line of saving businesses,” Reyburn added.

Some firms are fearful of giving too much valuable information away in the public domain, via their website or on social media. However, Reyburn’s approach is very simple: “Give information away, charge for implementation.”

If people think that undertaking a task will be exhausting or difficult, they will come to you, whether you’ve given them the basic information or not, she suggested.

“The more you share, the more they’ll want to work with you,” she said. “Use content to build assets. What can I build so that when they have problems, this is the tool they use? This is why video is so powerful: you’re connecting with them faster – the number of accountants who are realising that it doesn’t have to be perfect, but doing so builds relationships faster.”

Efficiency and trust

As founder of presentation training business Speaking Ambition, and MD of Blue Arrow Accounting, Alexandra Bond Burnett is well placed o talk about how you build trust with existing and potential clients.

“How do you give someone the green flag that you’re the best person to choose to help them?” asked Bond Burnett.

Breaking down the elements that are required to create trust was a key part of bond Bond Burnett’s presentation.

The trust equation is: credibility; reliability; and intimacy.

  • Credibility – “Demonstrating your experience, be that talking about things you know and understand, having conversations with people and presenting your qualifications.”
  • Reliability – “This is about ‘showing up’. Doing what you said you were going to do. To be there so your clients don’t need to worry.”
  • Intimacy – “You can be credible and reliable, but you have to build that level of rapport. People make logical decisions but with a dollop of emotion. How do you make someone feel? Safe, challenged, that they can do anything?”

Bond Burnett pulls this together by discussing ‘self orientation’. “It is a funny phrase – but essentially we’re considering who do you think about when you’re communicating?” she said. “It’s more than likely that it’s ‘what will someone think of me?’ Don’t focus on yourself – turn it around and think about the client.

“How can they be helped right now, and then next week and then the week after that… then start communicating that to them. The hero is the client; make them the centre of the story.”

Service clarity

“How do things get done?” asks Trent McLaren, global head of accounting and sales at Practice Ignition. Accountants need to be clear about understanding the work entailed both internally for your practice, and what you do for your clients.

For McLaren, this ultimately means you are looking for a balance between the work your people undertake, the technology used as a tool and the processes put in place to make the work flow.

“When the customer and employee experiences work well, then you as a practice gain a competitive advantage,” he said.

“It means you’re completing work faster, with fewer resources, improving quality and hopefully improving customer satisfaction.”

Another key task is to ‘map’ the customer journey. Do you understand the path a client takes, and the touchpoints they have with you, as you work together? From them becoming a lead/prospect to becoming your client and beyond, think about how you communicate with them and the services you provide.

By doing this you create a ‘blueprint’. McLaren referenced an article by the Nielsen Norman Group on this very topic, which can be found here.

 

 

 

It’s safe to say that AdvanceTrack’s 2019 conference was a great success, with the most attendees ever at one of our now annual events

This year’s theme at AdvanceTrack’s 2019 conference was about building a first-class client experience. A range of speakers, including Paul Shrimpling, Iwoca’s Richard Sutton, The Profitable Firm’s Karen Reyburn and My Accountancy Place’s Paul Barnes, spoke at length about how digitising processes and thinking carefully about the interactions you have (or don’t) with your client will have a massive impact on how they value your service.

MD Vipul Sheth gave the introductory speech, talking at depth about the “journey that data takes through your organisation”, in tandem with how you deal with people.

“It’s about creating time and opportunity for you to speak to more people, that’s what AdvanceTrack is here for,” he said.

Sheth added that most firms’ staff, in five years’ time, will be technologically adept, and that bookkeeping services and management is “essential in terms of delivering a regular conversation”.

 

Building an onboarding process

The Profitable Firm’s Karen Reyburn gave an inspiring talk on using simple technology to build an onboarding process. She referred to the importance of “drip-feeding” information back and forth between yourself and the client during the process, and is not to be rushed so as not to overwhelm them.

Paul Barnes, founder of firm My Accountancy Place, spoke at length about how to set a pricing strategy.

Using GoProposal methodology, alongside bundled pricing, Barnes spoke about the importance of discussing the needs of a potential client face-to-face. When their needs are understood, the bundle can then be moulded to meet their needs. If required, the offering can be itemised so they can see exactly how much the range of services cost.

“If they were to hire an accountant in-house, we use that to contextualise our costs,” he explained. “You’re effectively an outsourced finance function.

“We’re iterating our services and pricing almost daily. Value pricing isn’t easy,” he added. “So make sure you charge on factors and outcomes.”

Nikki Adams, of practice Ad Valorem, said the conference “was great” for two reasons: “I was enthralled with some of the sessions where industry-leading specialists were able to paint the picture of the next stage of the cloud accounting transition for practices of all sizes; it also helped to benchmark us against, and network with, other forward-thinking accountants. We came away buzzing with ideas.”

Wood and Disney’s David Rudd said: “The AdvanceTrack conference re-affirmed that we’re on the right track but have more to do to digitise and optimise our processes. [It had] great speakers and [it was] good to catch up with friends old and new.”