Clients using accountancy firm Carmichael Kingham & Co. are given access to apps to help remove the burden of bookkeeping and paperwork, allowing them to spend more time doing the work they love. The firm’s principal Annabelle Carmichael explains the benefits.
When you think of a traditional accounting practice your first thought probably isn’t ‘cutting edge technology’ and for most firms you’re right. Many accounting firms have not embraced technology and the benefits that come with using cloud-based accounting applications. We use applications for all aspects of our business because it allows us to take our business anywhere.
As I look down at my phone, I can immediately see apps for emails, receipt capture, cloud-accounting software, HMRC and online banking. We have found that embracing cloud-based accounting applications greatly saves time and reduces hassle for our clients.
From the beginning we have embraced technology as much as possible; if there’s an app we can use to improve our services, we use it. This is beneficial for two reasons – firstly it means clients can focus on growing and improving their business, rather than feeling bogged down in the burden of bookkeeping and paperwork. And secondly it means we are in regular contact with our clients, so we can provide ongoing advice and support by answering questions when they arise – rather than waiting until the end of financial year.
Taking away the admin burden
We have found that there are two areas which business owners typically find time consuming and cumbersome – raising invoices and collating receipts.
At the end of the day, bookkeeping is the last thing a business owner wants to do, so often they put it off until the end of the quarter when their accountant asks for information regarding VAT, or, in some cases, until the end of the financial year. This means hours spent collating information when business owners could be working on their business to earn more income and improve efficiencies, or relaxing with friends and family.
Our aim is to take away as much of the administrative burden that comes with running a business as possible. That’s why from day one, we give all of our clients a subscription to the cloud-accounting platform Xero.
If you don’t already use cloud-accounting software you’re probably not aware of the benefits to your business. A cloud-accounting system stores data using internet storage, which means that accounting information isn’t just available on one computer or server, it’s available on any device so as a business owner you can access your data on the go from your mobile.
By providing our clients with a cloud-accounting subscription, they can easily raise invoices, see how their business is performing in real-time, view payslips, or put in expense claims – all on their phones.
Benefitting from extra support
We don’t just leave our clients there; we request access to Xero so that we can keep their accounts up to date on a regular basis; we don’t just wait until the VAT returns is due.
We help clients set up the accounting software and show them how to raise invoices, connect their bank feeds and generally make the most of the app. This means if clients are out on a job, they don’t have to wait until they get home to invoice a customer, they can invoice the customer then and there from their phone.
Faster invoicing means faster payments, which is better for cashflow. Our clients have found that this has improved processes, saved time, made their business appear more professional and improved cash flow.
Of course, as a business owner you don’t only invoice customers, you also buy goods and services for your business and we have an app to cover that too. We provide all our clients with a free subscription to receipt capture software, which means as soon as clients make a business related purchase, they can take a photo of the receipt or invoice, rather than waiting until the end of the quarter when the vat return is due or the end of the financial year.
No more handwritten paperwork
Embracing cloud-accounting has meant that we can work with clients all over the world. We have agricultural clients in Australia who have embraced the cloud and operate their business from a mobile phone and iPad. Whereas previously, they relied on handwritten invoices, paying suppliers via cheque and compiling their bank statements, receipts and invoices on a spreadsheet.
At the end of the month, this client spent a full day agreeing invoices and receipts to the bank statement and collating information to send to their accountant. Since moving to cloud-based accounting software they can now see in real-time how much is owing to them, cash inflows and outflows for the month and other key metrics which give an insight to the performance of their business.
Additionally, since moving to the cloud, the client spends only seconds collating receipts at the time of purchase. Using these two apps has saved them a day a month on bookwork.
Communicating in a pandemic
Embracing technology has meant we can still interact with our clients, even though Covid-19 has restricted us to working from home for months. Using the apps mentioned above means we can keep client’s bookkeeping up to date, and we can easily provide tax and accountancy advice via FaceTime, Zoom, email or the good old-fashioned telephone.
We’ve built our monthly packages around cloud-accounting and our favourite thing about this is it means we are close to our clients’ businesses. We are in touch with owners regularly so that we can offer quality advice on a regular basis.