End-to-end finance: why payments need to integrate with your accounts

The importance of full integration for payments, cash flow and practice efficiency


Digital was the buzzword at this year’s Accountex conference. But the core lesson for many practitioners was the need for automation and end-to-end integration of software apps, especially for payments, cash flow and practice efficiency.

The key is to ensure that your payment technology, your cloud accounting software and your practice apps are fully integrated and talking to each other. With this deep integration in place, your firm not only improves its own financial management but can also quickly improve any underlying cash-flow issues.

Increased payment efficiency through a connected cloud system

49% of UK businesses are already using cloud accounting, in part due to the inherent convenience and efficiency that online accounting brings to their invoicing, bookkeeping and overall cash-management capabilities.

In essence, the benefit comes from linking together three core elements to create the ideal end-to-end financial system for your firm:

  • Online invoicing – use the online invoicing capabilities of your cloud solutions to email your regular and ad-hoc invoices direct to the client.

  • Payment by Direct Debit – take payment for the invoice automatically via the Direct Debit system once the invoice due date is reached.

  • Cloud accounting integration – connect your payment gateway to your online accounting platform, and seamlessly account for all your transactions.

Alex Falcon Huerta, of Soaring Falcon Accountancy, is a GoCardless accounting partner who’s put this focus on cloud integration at the centre of her new firm, as she’s happy to explain:

“Making sure the new business is 100% cloud has been my biggest achievement. GoCardless has allowed me to grow further without having to spend lots of money on hiring staff. Now I can set up and make payments immediately.”

Why Direct Debit offers the value you need

3,098 million Direct Debit payments were made in the UK in 2015, a figure predicted to grow as businesses realise the advantages of an online Direct Debit solution over sluggish Bacs payments, outmoded bank transfers and inflexible standing orders.

From a financial management perspective, Direct Debit delivers two key benefits:

  • Improved cash flow – with Direct Debit, you’re paid on time every time. That not only means a healthier practice bank balance, but also means you have stable and predictable cash-flow forecasts at all times.

  • Reduced admin time – with invoices paid on time, you no longer waste valuable business hours chasing outstanding debts – giving you more time to focus on practice development and/or client relationships.

This combination of enhanced cash flow and reduced credit control time is a real bonus, as Emma Mills of Bluesky Business professional bookkeepers can testify:

“Our cashflow and business have been transformed since we started using GoCardless. Within a month our average debtor days had halved and 70% of our customers were paying on time.”

How GoCardless brings Direct Debit into the digital age

So how does GoCardless add this additional value to the Direct Debit format? Our solution takes the benefits of Direct Debit as a payment option and provides an up-to-date, online process for streamlining the whole cash-collection process.

It delivers this through three key advantages over traditional bank-based Direct Debit:

  • GoCardless is digital – this isn’t the cumbersome, expensive Direct Debit system you may already know. It’s a cloud-based, digital-ready payment solution for the modern business that’s simplicity itself to set up.

  • You get full integration – GoCardless integrates with all the major online accounting software platforms, with no additional charges for this service, giving you an end-to-end way to take payments and manage your bookkeeping.

  • It’s cost-effective – You pay a 1% fee per transaction, capped at £2 (minimum 20p), making it not only fast and reliable, but also great value for money.

One GoCardless accounting partner who knows the merits of an integrated Direct Debit solution is Charlie Carne, of Charlie Carne & Co. He explains:

“GoCardless is extremely quick and easy to set up and use with QuickBooks, and it’s also relatively cheap as well – those are the key things for me. I don’t have time to configure complex payment set-ups, so the fact that GoCardless is so easy to set up is a real benefit. And it really is very cost effective, particularly when you have larger individual payments, because of the £2 per transaction cap. If someone’s paying you £1,000 per month, the percentage you’re losing from that income is minimal.”

Although Charlie doesn’t use Direct Debit with all his creative and agency clients just yet, he’s gradually moving established clients over to the new system and setting up all new clients with GoCardless as his payment option of choice.

“I still have a number of clients on standing orders, but when I want to change the price for those clients I’ll be moving them over to GoCardless. It’s so much easier to set up than a standing order – I can initiate GoCardless myself and all the client has to do is respond to say they accept the invitation, whereas getting a client to set up a standing order can take months.”

Managing your payment collection through Direct Debit transforms the way you deal with invoicing, bank reconciliation and credit control. Peter Czapp, co-founder and director of The Wow Company, is a long-standing GoCardless advocate who’s already seen the positive impact on cash collection:

“Moving our payment collection over to GoCardless really has been transformational for us. We’re a completely different business as a result of GoCardless and the second we discovered it we started recommending it to our clients. For anyone who wants to sharpen up their cash-collection function it really is an astonishing tool. We’re connected up using GoCardless for Xero, so when we bill for additional work, that money gets collected 48 hours later. We don’t have to lift a finger.”

Make your payment technology work for you

With GoCardless automatically collecting your payments, and your cloud accounting software reconciling these transactions in your accounts, the technology can do the lion’s share of the cash collection and financial admin work for you.

For practitioners, GoCardless is incredibly simple to set up and use:

  • Sign up online and be up and running in a matter of minutes.
  • No minimum contract for partners and a cost-effective, fixed-fee pricing model.

For practitioners like Charlie Carne, GoCardless quickly and simply removes any worries around late payment, as he explains:

“The certainty of knowing when money is coming in, and that it doesn’t need tracking, is definitely an advantage of integrating with GoCardless. QuickBooks will track those invoices and will show me when payment doesn’t come through, but having the certainty of Direct Debit payments also save a lot of time and puts my mind at rest that things are going to be paid.”

Find out more about using Direct Debit via GoCardless as your payment integration.

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