My friend John calls me a bean counter, knowing that I am part of an accountancy and tax business. The bean counter reference is an accusation. A not-so-subtle dig at the accountancy profession. He doesn’t hold accountants in high esteem and is brutally honest about it. I came across the Bean Counter Cafe on my holidays and sent a picture to John with the caption, “What you call me”.
The reference got me thinking about accountants and the type of service they give. Have we changed with the times, and do we provide all the services our clients need? We’ll have a look at
- Partnership Approach
- Traditional v Modern
- We are a small business too
With our ideal client, we want and have a partnership approach. Why is that? There are many reasons but the main one is that we provide more value when we control the numbers. By controlling the numbers we provide all the bookkeeping and accountancy services our clients need. That is a one-stop shop for
- Company secretarial
Rather than meeting the client once at the end of the year the team here is in contact many times during the year. Each client has an experienced dedicated manager, and that person is the first port of call. She will have most of the answers for the client but if she doesn’t, she’ll consult other team members to get them.
Regular contact during the year builds a strong relationship. The client feels more comfortable that we can provide the answers they are looking for. That builds a level of trust and a feeling of we are in this together. When we look after your bookkeeping, we have access to all the financial information. With that, we can spot things like
- Incorrect PRSI classes on payroll
- Postponed Accounting for Vat
- Overpayments to suppliers
- Dividends to avoid surcharges
- Bonus payments for directors
Being a business owner can be a lonely place at times. Having that partnership approach with your accountant is a valuable resource. You can bounce ideas off them. You feel comfortable calling them during the year as you know you’ll get an honest response. Helping our clients grow and succeed works for us too. They will need more services. Fees aren’t an issue, once they are transparent and fair. Plus, the level of trust builds.
Traditional V Modern
We did a blog before on the traditional versus the modern accountant. Using the tennis analogy, it was game, set, and match to the modern accountant. That wasn’t to say that the traditional accountant was some form of extinct dinosaur. Not at all. They provide a valuable service to their clients looking after all their compliance needs.
The main point was that the modern accountant had embraced technology. The reason for this was to provide a different service. A more value-added service in my view with more focus on the numbers during the year. Modern cloud accountancy software like Xero and Dext help with this. But don’t be fooled into thinking that the software does all the work. You will need experts who know how to use this software and extract the key numbers for your business.
The switch to the cloud, once done right, can have many benefits for you. It can
- Reduce paperwork and help you go digital. Imagine no paper!
- Save you time and money. Invoicing on Xero is so fast.
- Invoice extraction. A few clicks and you have your top ten purchase invoices for a Vat cycle. When Revenue owe you Vat they often look for this as part of a compliance check
- Provide the raw material for management accounts. This is the gold. Reviewing your key numbers during the year
Having up-to-date numbers during the year is key to helping you make business decisions. Some recent decisions that our clients took based on up-to-date numbers include
- Changing the work roster as their wage percentage was too high
- Stop working with certain customers as losing money on those jobs
- Increase pricing for certain services
- Take a bonus payment from their company rather than borrow money for a house extension
Nailing the foundations of a great bookkeeping function is worth its weight in gold. It takes time and money, but you will find it is a valuable asset and will protect your business and even add value to it.
This is not some hippy trippy we have unreal values and sure aren’t we great! Our values are just that, ours. We came up with them as a team and didn’t write them on the back of a matchbox because they sounded good. They are important to us. We believe in them and make decisions based on them. Clients that call to see us will see these values up on our walls.
- Problem solve
- Protect you
- Enjoy what we do
I had a good conversation with Ger yesterday that summed up a lot of these values. He had met a prospect recently who was looking to buy a business. The deal was done and had nothing to do with us. They were looking for accountancy services post-acquisition. Resulting from our chat we felt there was a better way to buy it and there were a few other issues too. The question for us was whether it is right or not to make some suggestions to someone who isn’t a client.
Rather than use all their savings to buy the shares a better option was to put money into the company. Using existing funds in the company and the new money introduced they could do a share buyback. They wouldn’t exhaust all their savings plus the loan to the company can come back to them tax-free. Also, they needed to have other protections like knowing potential claims and tax liabilities. The value of these should reduce the price.
Ger making these suggestions it shows key values like problem solving, being proactive, and protection. It boils down to caring and we have seen that with the team here down through the years. Cathy and Dee going above and beyond to secure pensions and benefits for clients comes to mind.
Enjoy what we do
“How can you do this stuff all day? It would drive me cracked” A sentence like this often comes up in client meetings. I know it may seem strange, but we enjoy what we do and sometimes even love it. Most people hate numbers and have a huge fear of Revenue. As one client told us before “he’d rather pick potatoes in Jersey for a week”
I know that Aedin loves it when that bank reconciliation balances. It’s not Indiana Jones excitement levels every day but, in general, we enjoy what we are doing. And what is it that we do? We are
- Helping clients save money
- Selling businesses
- Buying businesses
- Extracting wealth from companies
- Moving sole traders to companies
- Providing payroll solutions
- Restructuring companies
- Implementing bookkeeping processes
And so much more. It is interesting because we are always learning whether that is new technology or a new Finance Act. Continuous learning and a curious mind are key to problem-solving. Trying to keep up with all the changes to keep that Revenue behemoth in check isn’t easy. That’s why we have a weekly training slot and continuous CPD.
We are a small business too
Our reason for starting the business was to help businesses grow. By providing all the services that a client needs for an agreed upfront monthly fee. We are a small business too. In fact, we started as two and now there are nine of us. Our business journey has seen us
- Hire and train employees
- Leave employees go which is never easy
- Move from a partnership to a Ltd company
- Exit Audit
- Move to cloud accounting using Xero & Dext. We are now a Xero Gold Partner.
- Put in place a CRM system called Pixie
- Move from Micropay to Collsoft
- Have a hybrid working environment. Two days in the office and three at home
- Survived the pandemic which wasn’t easy
So, we are doing what you are doing. Surviving, stagnating, growing, and changing all the time. It isn’t an easy place to be in at times and that’s why having someone in your corner that you trust is vital. That’s why the partnership approach works.
The choice is a bookkeeper and an accountant that don’t communicate regularly. Or a team that provides all the services that you need who you are in contact with during the year. A team that not only focuses on the business but on the personal too. After all your business pays for your home, your holidays, and the children’s education. It’s important you have the right team looking after it for you. Are you happy with your bean counter or could you do with changing things up?
Do you need help with your business? If so, Start here