Welcome to issue two of the Digital Accountancy Magazine
Intro from the Editor
The world has certainly changed since we gave you issue one of the Digital Accountancy Magazine. We are now in lockdown in many countries due to the COVID-19 outbreak and I sincerely hope that you, your family and your loved ones are all safe and well at this difficult time.
Over recent weeks we have seen the impact of this pandemic on many businesses and it is heartbreaking to speak to business owners who are worrying about their future. We have also, as accountants, had to adapt and adapt quickly. We have had to move out of the office environment and work remotely whilst ensuring we keep in contact with our staff and we keep servicing the needs of our clients. For some of us, the move was a smooth one but for others, this involved a significant change in their way of work and many were not equipped to work remotely. In addition, we have had to speak to many, if not all, of our clients and help and guide them and I am sure the businesses appreciate this invaluable help and support. Throughout this, we have all collaborated and shared information to help support each other and to help our clients and this is helping us all get through this very difficult time. One thing that has become apparent through all this is the need and reliance on technology. We have seen the need to have technology in place to allow us to work remotely, to communicate efficiently with our staff and clients and to provide our clients with the information that they desperately need. So from this, we need to look to the future and prepare so that we are standing strong and in a position to provide our clients with the expert support and advice they require. In order to achieve this, we need to implement technology and develop services to meet our client's needs efficiently. There will be a strong focus on fees and, with many businesses suffering financially, it will be necessary to adapt in order to provide clients with their services in a cost-efficient manner. In Issue 2 of the Digital Accountancy Magazine, we have changed some of our features in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally we had planned that the focus would be very much on the Digital Accountancy Show but we had to postpone this event and it is now on 10th September 2020. I am pleased to say nearly 3,000 accountants have signed up to the show, so whilst we are disappointed it is not going ahead we are over the moon that the concept seems to be exciting accountants across the UK. Issue 2 is packed full of some really great features and interviews. I was very fortunate to be able to meet with David Jones of Lewis Brownlee and learn about the exciting digital transformation projects they have completed and about the launch of their new service LB2. I came away from the interview very excited about what these services will offer accountants and how they will allow businesses to operate in a highly efficient and systemised manner along with giving them clarity and insight into their financial data. This is really the way that accountancy today is moving as we adopt much more of a proactive approach with
our clients and become their trusted advisor. It represents a real change to the traditional way of working and, I think, accountants entering the profession today have a very exciting future ahead of them. We were also very fortunate to have an interview with Alasdair McGill of Ashton McGill who are based in my home country of Scotland! Alasdair’s firm was awarded the Xero Small Firm of 2019 at the Xero awards earlier this month and in the interview, you will learn some more about the firm that he runs with his son, Andy, and will also get some great tips he shared with us. In light of COVID-19, we examine how the apps can be used to help our clients seek financing at this difficult time and we also have a great interview with Ben Nacca from Cone Accounting where he provides some valuable tips and advice on how to manage a remote accounting team. I have been trying hard to read more books this year and Karl Roberts’ book recommendations have added more onto my reading list! It was interesting to hear that he has three books on the go at any one time – one at home, one in the office and an audiobook in the car so I may try this too! We also have some really interesting articles in this issue including how tech can be used in the Not for Profit sector which, traditionally, is a sector that many believe technology is not applicable to. In this article, the role and benefits of tech in the sector are discussed along with some of the key apps that can be used. We have lots of other great content and I hope you manage to take some time out and switch off from everything that is going on around you and that you enjoy reading the magazine. Due to the huge success of issue one, I am pleased to tell you that we are increasing the frequency of the magazine to bi-monthly and the next issue will be with you at the end of May. I sincerely hope that by that time the country is no longer in lockdown and we can all start to look forward so that we can continue to support our clients and rebuild the country.
Counting Clouds Cambridgeshire - The Story So Far....
Having set up her own accounting practice, Counting Clouds Cambridgeshire, we are going to catch up with Caroline in each edition to hear about what her firm and how she is helping other businesses on their digital journey.
One of the services you offer accountants is Digital Transformation. What does this comprise? Digital transformation is effectively the adoption of digital technology in a business. For all businesses, this will differ as it is dependent on where they are now and what they are hoping to achieve. For an accountancy firm, you can split the digital transformation journey into two components - transformation of the practice itself and transformation of the services to their clients. For the practice this will include looking into practice management tools, pricing methodology, document storage etc. For the clients, this includes examining the accounting software used along with the apps and associated service offerings. Some firms have done one and not the other, some have done nothing and some have done a bit of both. It does not matter where we start, my aim is to go and work with the firm and guide them to their desired end point. The overall process that I follow is similar in all cases but the time scales will vary. It may also be that we start with one project and then, by the time that this is completed, there is a desire to move onto a new area or they may want to explore other services I offer such as app advisory work. All digital transformation processes start with a Discovery Day where I review systems and processes, the software and apps used, work flows and much more. From this, I then prepare a report which outlines the project and the steps involved and timescales. We then will work on the project itself and this comprises of regular meetings where we review the milestones, discuss issues, agree next steps and set new milestones to be achieved. I often also visit the firm at stages in the project. Through my approach, we break down the project into smaller, manageable tasks and we agree what tasks will be achieved at each stage.
I am also on hand at all times to give support and help throughout and I encourage regular communication. This can be via email, WhatsApp or Slack as well as via phone. The key for me is working with the accountancy firm. I want to be that support and I want to be available to answer their questions, guide and advise. There is more to it than just moving to some new products and I know the hurdles and obstacles that exist and I can help and advise to ensure that these are overcome. The endpoint is to create a more automated, more profitable and more efficient firm that allows them to provide a first-class service to their clients including provision of timely and insightful data so that they, in turn, become their valued and trusted advisor. Caroline Harridence is the founder of Counting Clouds Cambridgeshire - a fully digital accountancy practice. She has assisted clients to use cloud accounting and new technology for many years and has worked with clients across many industry sectors and specialises in working with high tech startups. She has over 20 years of experience advising a wide variety of businesses ranging from small owner-managed businesses through to larger multinational companies. In addition, she is also experienced in assisting accountancy firms to migrate clients onto cloud software and implement new technology within the practice. She now runs a fully digital and technology focussed firm where her specialisms include cloud strategy and app advisory. In each edition, we will ask Caroline to explain a little bit about what she does and how this is helping the industry adopt a more digital way of operating.