A mid-tier practice in London had previously used outsourcing and offshoring, but turned to AdvanceTrack when it looked to take things to the next level.


Tell us about your practice

We’re an accountancy firm with more than 250 team members – providing a full service, from tax to large audits. We’re on a growth path, with private equity investment in place. We’re on course to make ourselves bigger and better in the next few years, as a client service provider and as an employer.


What problem did you need solving?

With the work we do – as many accountants will know – there is a restriction on resources. So, we’ve previously looked for a partner to alleviate that with their own pool of people.

A small number of our partners worked with outsourcers in India for particular types of work and particular types of client – and did it successfully for a number of years. One of the partners, in particular, had a strong relationship with the outsourcer – but when that partner left, we saw the quality of work start to diminish (and clearly that’s a two-way thing). And then you use that resource less and less.

We’d begun to review our strategy. Then, in lockdown, it gave us a chance to really understand what we wanted to do, for whom, and how. Our financial accounts and outsourcing production teams were brought together; within that wider team, people were placed into smaller specialist teams called pods. That made it easier to understand our resourcing, and where remote working fitted into that.

At this point we revisited the idea of working with an outsourcing partner.


How did you begin working with AdvanceTrack?

AdvanceTrack MD Vipul Sheth had been speaking to our CEO – the seed of a relationship was there. Once we started considering revisiting outsourcing then Vipul was the obvious person to speak to.

And once we’d spoken to him, we didn’t really feel the need to speak to anybody else.

It’s clear that AdvanceTrack is technology-driven, and that suits our direction. We also opened up outsourcing as a firmwide strategy rather than, as previously, funnelled through a few of our teams.


How has the relationship between your firm and AdvanceTrack progressed?

I would say that the biggest challenge for us was developing our processes internally and getting our people on board. But the benefits became obvious when teams were short-staffed and began utilising the outsourcing resource available – realising it was fantastic.

We now have had AdvanceTrack people working across all of our business services pods, with some serving as offshore support – meaning they’re focused purely on our firm. We think that having a mix is great, because your offshore people become ‘representatives’ for how we do things, and so they add support and knowledge to AdvanceTrack on our behalf. This helps maintain a connection and relationship.


How has your firm developed… and what does the future hold?

All firms reacted to the 2020 lockdowns by thinking more deeply about their systems and processes – and how technology is going to impact the accountancy world.

Now, rather than just producing figures, we’re looking at the best tech and processes to enable us to provide better and broader advice to our clients. With our plans to expand, we need to work very efficiently, and AdvanceTrack is important to helping us achieve our goals.

We catch up with AdvanceTrack’s new sales director Dermot Hamblin, and discuss his current role, along with his storied background in accountancy and tech.

Current role and responsibilities

I’m the new sales director – AdvanceTrack MD Vipul Sheth and I have known each other for a long time. Vipul has high values and lives by them, which I support.

He’s asked me to help continue AdvanceTrack’s growth. I’ve always had a passion to ensure that existing clients are well looked after, so I’m not just here to win new work. The opportunity in this sector is great, and I want to play a positive part in the AdvanceTrack team.

What is your background?

Well, I started in accountancy tech way back in 1996. I was, in fact, employee number 44 on IRIS’s payroll. I was there for ten years before working for a construction company.

I moved back into the professional tech sector with Thomson Reuters Digita and then launched Panalitix’s entry into the UK – my expertise is supporting vendors with their go-to-market strategies. I’ve also been a long-standing coach to accountants.

What is the future for you and AdvanceTrack?

Accountants want someone who tells it to them straight: no crazy demos. I’ll speak sensibly with them and discuss the business case. We want to make accountancy practices greater than they already are. Firms are realising that outsourcing and offshoring are viable options to enable them to be more productive, flexible, and to scale up.

I also see geographies that AdvanceTrack can expand into, as well as a broadening of its services – it’s a very exciting time. I’m really excited by our audit offering.

How can accountants contact you?

I can be reached at de************@ad**********.com and I’d welcome the opportunity to chat with either potential or existing clients.

Being ‘purpose-driven’ isn’t a fluffy goal. Practices that set a strong direction are preparing to succeed, explains AdvanceTrack MD Vipul Sheth.

What is your practice’s purpose? You might say ‘it’s to create tax returns and accounts’. You could go bigger, bolder and broader: ‘To be the best accountancy firm in the world.’

I went to Australia a couple of weeks ago with a couple of tasks to undertake. Firstly, to help develop our standing; secondly, to attend the Clarity/Smithink/AdvanceTrack-sponsored ‘Accountants Re:Bootcamp’.

The bootcamp saw some 50 accountants gathered, across three days, to really question their approach to what their firm does.

It made the practice leaders delve into the fundamentals of what the practice is there for, and why – while challenging them to understand and prioritise what they need to change in terms of maintaining or improving its success.

And, to go through this process, the first thing that is broached is: ‘what’s your firm’s purpose?’

From my experience in both working in practice, and alongside side them as AdvanceTrack’s clients, I think many accountants struggle to nail down what their purpose is. A large proportion of them complete higher education and choose accountancy as a ‘good payer and solid career’. A vocation…? It is often not.

Some of the most successful accountants I (and AdvanceTrack) have worked with have an entrepreneurial background – in terms of parents and close family members. This drive and mission-focused mindset is supported by the financial and technical expertise they learn.

Making sure that tax returns and accounts are calculated correctly is very important. But, ultimately, practices end-clients see greater value from being supported in their various missions and ambitions.

Our purpose (or mission) is to support practices in their growth ambitions. We do this through providing high quality and secure outsourcing/offshoring services – while keeping front-of mind what their end-goal is.

Set your firm with an ambitious goal, and let us support you achieve that goal by handling your productivity burden.

Vipul Sheth is founder and MD of AdvanceTrack Outsourcing

If you’d like to chat to us about supporting your practice’s growth plans, then please contact us by clicking here.

Our first face-to-face Xerocon in several years was fun and joyous, but the tone – while optimistic – was serious.

Tobacco Dock, the venue for Xero’s big UK event, was far different venue to that of a hotel conference room. What were old storage rooms became pods for Xero’s app exhibitors (including AdvanceTrack); while the central courtyards provided much relief against the heat, creating a carnival-like atmosphere.

However, the context was a stagnating economy, high inflation and a cost-of-living crisis. And of course, MTD ITSA. Can accountancy firms act as ‘digital consultants’? asked Xero’s UK and EMEA managing director Alex von Schirmeister.

Sole traders and micro businesses are the seed for creativity and graspers of new models to serve markets. And they want accountants to support them in that journey of growth. So… can you, as an adviser, steer them through the compliance hurdles they face? And, then, develop that relationship to offer timely and strategic support?

It’s not easy. MTD is proving to be a moving feast. The practitioners we spoke to at Xerocon are looking at ways to make both themselves, and their clients, ready as soon as possible. They don’t want nasty surprises when MTD ITSA goes live. But, unfortunately, we’re still waiting on some of the fine detail.

Xero’s big launch was Xero Go – a ‘freemium’ app to create an entry point for the millions of sole traders to better manage and capture income and expenses data.

While it’s very early days, it’s clear that Xero Go is one of the steps needed to offer a quick and easy platform for the smallest businesses to begin the vital process of capturing that information.

Accountants have so much on their plate. Being a ‘digital consultant’ requires a very important first step – understanding your own tech and processes. Your clients need help to both understand how to capture information – but, where automation isn’t possible, to get in the habit of opening up Tax Go, or whatever other capture tool is used.

There is an argument that this flow of extra information to HMRC will be of little use to the taxman. However, as we’ve suggested previously: building more links, consistently, between client and adviser should be a good thing – at least something that the practice can leverage.

We’d love to help you manage the increase in scale of client touchpoints – it’s what we do for a living. If you’d like to speak to us about improving your practice’s processes and workflow, contact us here.