Anoop has a proven track record of problem solving and assisting clients with the implementation of systems and building accounts departments. Having spent a number of years developing his knowledge of accounting software, he has spent the last few years investing a considerable amount of time in researching cloud technology. He has worked with large, medium and small accountancy firms, specialising in owner managed businesses, helping them to grow and scale up in the UK and internationally.
Starting as a Business Software Consultant back in 2012, Simon now heads up the Cloud and Accounting Software division at Wilkins Kennedy, where he has built up a large portfolio of SME clients, in a variety of sectors. Simon is in charge of the MyWK project, which launched in 2016 to offer cloud accountancy services to Wilkins Kennedy's clients. He also provides clients with software identification review and upgrades, networked software solutions and bespoke training services.
Sharon established Kinder Pocock Chartered Certified Accountants in 2005, following 15 years working in the accountancy profession. Her aim then, as now, was to offer professional yet straightforward advice and support to small and new businesses. Sharon is also Xero UK's Most Valued Professional 2016.
Edward has been with Xero for nearly three years. Under his leadership, Xero is working with banks, fintechs and regulators to ensure that Xero's rapidly growing EMEA base of some 300,000 SME customers realise the potential of Open Banking and the next generation of digital financial services. Previously, Edward held senior leadership roles with a number of software and cloud businesses, including Microsoft. He has founded two cloud businesses; a VC-backed challenger in IT security, since acquired by a UK PLC - and a business applications vendor for SMEs.
Paul founded The Wow Company in 2004, building a fast-growing national firm exclusively serving small businesses. With a nationwide client base, Wow has won many awards including Xero Partner of the Year, AccountingWeb's Practice Growth Award and Xero's 100% Cloud Award in 2015, to name a few. In 2015, Paul was appointed as Xero's Head of Accounting in the UK, on a part-time advisory basis.
Shane is a strategist, coach and speaker on the future of the accountancy profession. Over the last three decades, he has worked with businesses, putting systems and processes in place to improve efficiency, productivity and team culture. Since 1998 his business, AVN, has been giving accountants greater choice about the role they play, the hours they work, the income they take and the difference they make. Shane is author of Amazon No.1 Best Seller, What's Next For Accountants.
Tom is editor of AccountingWEB, the UK's leading independent website for accountants and finance professionals. Tom is responsible for setting the site's editorial agenda across all aspects of accountancy, including tax, technology, business and practice.
Nicola Anderson is VP Marketing at GoCardless. Founded in 2011, GoCardless is taking Direct Debit into the digital age, making it easy for all business to take recurring payments. GoCardless currently processes more than £5bn per year for over 30,000 businesses, including 3,000 accountancy firms. Nicola has worked in digital marketing for over 18 years covering a variety of sectors from sport and gambling to printing and beauty. Prior to GoCardless Nicola worked at MOO as GM, International. She's also a mentor for Virgin Startups and is studying for a diploma in coaching and mentoring.
Cameron is Sage's Global Director of Accountant Partners. A qualified accountant, he is passionate about enabling accountants' relationships with their clients to flourish. Cameron has extensive experience across technology and Professional Services industries, he combines inspiration and insight with practical advice.
Nathan is a cloud expert and a key member of leading cloud software providers' advisory boards, helping them to formulate their roadmaps for software development and Making Tax Digital. He has been influential in advising many of the cloud community add-ons and heads the MHA Digital Solutions Group. Nathan also offers a wide range of services to family businesses and business start-ups, including corporate accounts and corporation tax, business plans and projections, payroll VAT and personal tax. MHA Carpenter Box was Xero accounting partner of the year 2016/2017.
Mark Wickersham - Chartered Accountant, public speaker and author - is known as the most sought-after profit improvement expert in the accounting community. Mark is also a widely published author on practice issues. In May 2011 his first book, “Effective Pricing for Accountants”, was a number 1 Amazon bestseller. In 2015 Mark was shortlisted in the AccountingWeb “Outstanding Contribution to Accounting” award. Mark has over 100 recommendations from accountants on LinkedIn; Connect with him on LinkedIn to get access to free resources Mark has created for accountants in practice.
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Our panellists, Nathan Keeley, Sharon Pocock, Simon Woodhams and Anoop Rehal, discuss their business priorities for 2018, and whether cloud technology is enabling them to serve more clients.
It is important for accountants to explore the numbers that matter to their clients and look at ways to improve on them. This is best done through face to face conversations that will lead to promoting a paid-for business advisory service. The survey shows that 16% of accountants are not having face to face discussions and are therefore perhaps both leaving money on the table and falling short of building a relationship.Shane Lukas, Managing Director, AVN, & best-selling author of ‘What's Next for Accountants'
There has been an accelerating trend for accountants to move their clients onto cloud-based products. Businesses using cloud-based products now stands at over 50%. Just 12 months ago, that number was very different; AVN performed its own survey and then just over 20% of clients were on cloud-based software. This still means that there are over two and a half million businesses not using the cloud in the UK. The GoCardless survey shows that most accountants don't insist on a software package. Interestingly, I see many accountants who work only with businesses who use a specific package. This keeps things simple for the accountant.Shane Lukas, Managing Director, AVN
Fixed pricing was the most popular model among our respondents, with almost three-quarters offering this to clients; while 40% still charge clients by the hour. The majority of firms billed in arrears (58%), and 42% are kept waiting for payment more than 21 days past the due date. A quarter of our respondents spend more than 5 hours a month chasing payments.
‘Fixed' and ‘value' pricing are not the same
While a increasing number of firms are moving to value pricing, it is still the minority and a surprising number of our respondents are still pricing based on time. It's a crazy way to price. Customers hate it, it's not fair and it also results in lower prices and less profits.
What I have noticed over the last decade is an increasing move to fixed pricing. It's a better way to price because it gives the client certainty. However, there is a big misconception. Fixed pricing is not value pricing. Having a single fixed price for any service cannot be based on value since every client values things differently.
When I ask accounting firms how they have arrived at their fixed price they tell me it is based upon their best guess at how long it will take to do the work. This is just another form of cost-plus pricing. There is no value in an hour of time. The value is in the end result. Fixed pricing is not value pricing and it usually results in much lower prices.Mark Wickersham FCA
The value of upfront billing
Most accounting firms still bill in arrears, although it's reassuring to see the proportion billing in advance is growing.
Whenever we buy anything in life we want certainty. We want certainty over what we are getting and certainty over what we will pay. Your clients are no different. You must give them a price upfront. You should raise the invoice upfront, and you should ensure you are paid before you complete the work.
I continue to find most accounting firms have debtors on their balance sheet. Money they are owed by clients. Why?
There is no professional or legal requirement for accounting firms to give credit. We should be paid before completing the work (even better, before starting the work). That's the norm in the service industry.
I saw a bookkeeper asking for advice in a Facebook group. She had a client disputing the number of hours she had spent, wanting to see timesheets and wanting to pay less. She is in for a long drawn-out dispute with the client which could have easily been avoided by giving a fixed price in advance and getting paid in advance.
When you price upfront, raise your invoice upfront and use GoCardless to collect the money, you avoid fee disputes and avoid having to chase money.Mark Wickersham FCA
This GoCardless study into debtor days complements Xero research that small business owners are spending an average of 10% of their day - which equates to two days per month - chasing late payments. This can be a huge waste of time.
Beyond tax and compliance, small businesses are increasingly turning to their accountants for guidance on best business practices. And the best advisors know that their clients can save time and boost cash flow through the adoption of payment services like GoCardless.
Building on success in the UK, with great feedback from our accounting partners and customers alike, we're delighted to be extending our partnership with GoCardless into additional Xero markets.Edward Berks, Director of Banking, Fintech and Ecosystem, Xero
Compare this time spent chasing payments to the 20% who desired to increase automation through technology and we can see the loss in productivity and the constraints to growth this causes.Cameron John, Director of Accountant Partners - Sage
An astronomical 80% of accountants spend a minimum of two hours per month collecting debt. That time could be better spent delivering value to clients.Shane Lukas, Managing Director, AVN
For too long accountants are happy to provide extended credit terms to their clients allowing them to miss payment dates.Cameron John, Director of Accountant Partners - Sage
It's positive to see that 42% of client fees are collected through Direct Debit, this percentage can be much higher through the seamless service and integration of GoCardless. It puts the Accountant in full control.Cameron John, Director of Accountant Partners - Sage
Direct Debit reduces aged debts and time spent chasing payments
Our analysis shows there's a clear correlation between Direct Debit usage and a firm's average debtor days, as well as the time they spend chasing payments (shown by the graphs below). The higher the % of client fees taken through Direct Debit, the lower a firm's average debtor days are likely to be and the less time they tend to spend chasing payments.
This correlation is one of the reasons that many firms choose Direct Debit to collect their own fees - and advise their clients to do the same. This data also shows that uptake matters: firms who move a greater percentage of their payments to Direct Debit, are really feeling the benefits. It's one thing to ask a new client to pay by Direct Debit, but moving over existing clients can be difficult. If you're facing that challenge, take a look at our new guide - How to get your customers to move to Direct Debit.Nicola Anderson, GoCardless
These graphs show the correlation between average debtor days (above), or time spent chasing payments (below) and the % of fees a firm takes via Direct Debit. In the above graph, firms with 0 debtor days - who are always paid on time - collect a median of 85% of their fees by Direct Debit.
The same goes for time spent chasing payments (below): firms who spend zero hours chasing payments each month, collect a median of 69% of fees by Direct Debit.
Listen to our panellists as they discuss what it means to adopt cloud accounting ‘well' (above) and hear their recommendations on the cloud plugins that add the most value (below).
Our panellists discuss what's next for cloud accounting - and if cloud data could help accountants to develop new services for clients (below).
Watch the video below to hear our panelists discuss what cloud training they have in place for their accountants.
We asked firms whether cloud accounting was changing the make-up of their team: are they hiring more non-accountants to staff cloud roles? Our panellists also give their top tips for hiring in the video clip below.
We asked how firms are keeping up with regulatory and technology developments - and how confident they feel advising clients on these.
You saw in section 4 of this report, that only 5% of firms stated that their top priority was to deal effectively with regulatory changes like GDPR, bucking the perceived wisdom that change in the profession is largely legislation-led. Indeed, despite the government's tinkering, we see here that only 7% of firms felt less confident about offering advice to clients regarding regulatory changes than they did a year ago.Tom Herbert, Editor, AccountingWEB