Quick-fire interview with James Lizars from Thrive Accountants
1. What percentage of your client base is cloud?
100% since day 1
2. What is your core technology stack?
Xero, Receipt Bank, GoProposal, Taxfiler, Onkho, Float, Futrli, Brightpay, Chaser
3.What is your typical client?
Ltd Co, VAT Reg'd, B2B tech software
4.Which advisory services do you offer?
I'm a former FD, so pretty broad, but defined services will be business planning, forecasting, cash flow, accountability, business review meetings, performance tracking
5. What services/advice are you seeing your clients reaching out for right now?
Aside from the 'am I eligible for xxx COVID scheme' it's cash management in the main whether that's reshaping their cost base or forecasting their cash flow. Also getting stonger uptake on our outsourced finance function services.
6. Which technology do you use to supplement these services?
Use Furlti for the long term planning, trying not to revisit the base model too frequently. Float for the short/medium term view
7. What percentage of your clients use your forecasting service?
About 15% , but closer to 30% if you exclude PSC clients
8. How do you price cash flow forecasting as a service?
Fixed monthly fee, but tends to need complementary services like daily bookkeeping
9. What made you choose Float as a product?
Have had Float on my radar for probably 5 years. Had pigeon-holed it as for near-term cash management and I avoid clients that are that cash-constrained. COVID really changed that, lots of short and medium-term cash forecasting and modelling has been needed and Float has matured nicely as a product.
10. What are the benefits of offering cash flow forecasting as a service to the firm and the clients?
For us, it creates a compelling reason to have Xero data updated at least weekly and with up-to-date data other advisory services are much easier to deliver. For clients, they get to benefit from what you can have if your data is up to date - ttracking performance against plan etc.
11. How do you support clients as a result of forecasting and how has that changed since Covid-19?
I'm having more FD conversations with clients now. Where previously a client may have been seeking to unerstand the timings and values of HMRC liabities, now they're seeking to understand the impact on the BEP if this team member leaves and someone in that role joins.
12. How will you use Float as we're slowly beginning to get back to some version of "normality"?
I think as client cash positions stabilise we'll simply shift the parameters on them. How many businesses wish they came into 2020 with a cash buffer? We'll be encouraging clients to set a target for a cash buffer, strip that from their cash model and maintain the focus on cash management to meet that target.
13. How do you see the practice developing over the next 5 years?
We're growing our fee base, but growing our cleint numbers far less rapidly. It's all about breadth and depth of the relationship with the cleints within our niche of B2B tech.
14. Lastly, what would be your top 3 pieces of advice to people looking to enhance or implement advisory services right now?
Producing a management report or deck of Xero reports is not Advisory. Get good at creating 12 month and 90 day plans with clients. Deliver the management reports, sure, but the quarterly review meeting is about tracking how the client is doing versus their plan, and then defining their objectives for the next 90 days.