A recent research project announced it had grown an expensive Mediterranean truffle in the UK for the first time. The Perigord black truffle , which can cost up to £1,700 per kilogram, was recently grown in Wales. The results of the research project holds exciting possibilities for the future as this particular species was never actually expected to grow in the UK. Through continuous monitoring over many years, the researchers were able to gradually see the opportunity that was presenting itself and to recognise its potential.
It’s another example of change prompting us to revaluate our preconceived thoughts and challenging us to see the opportunity that change brings. The question is can you recognise the opportunity when it presents itself? I’m sure we have all read how compliance work is decreasing and that there’s an urgent need to move to business advisory services.
But is it really that simple?
Whilst it’s true the expectation of our clients is changing, it would also be true that many clients underestimate the services their accountants could offer them. Clients understand the requirement to submit Tax Returns and Final Accounts; compliance work primarily driven by the government. However many clients would not think of asking their accountants for management reports, cashflow forecasts or ‘what-if’ modelling. When presented with this information most clients would recognise how it can help them to improve their business.
The first challenge of building a Value Added Service offering is understanding what services you wish to provide and to which clients.
Why do you want to provide advisory services?
You wouldn’t give financial advice to a client without a basic understanding of their objectives, and this principle stands when considering advisory services in your own business. Questions to consider include:
• You want to increase your income but the return from compliance work is declining
• Your clients’ needs are changing
• You want to embrace the opportunities arising from technological change
• You want to have better engaged staff
Once you are clear on your offering you need the correct tools to make the job easy. IRIS Insight financial forecasting is the future of complementary accounting software.
Based in the cloud, IRIS Insight is the ‘go-to’ tool for every professional adviser who wants to get more from their data, make smarter business decisions, and have the ability to forecast more accurately. Business advisers can also easily monitor actual performance and KPI information. IRIS Insight integrates seamlessly with KashFlow and Xero to provide an overall package your clients won’t fail to be impressed by.
Some changes are easier to adopt. Adding a Value Added Services offering holds exciting prospects for practices and it’s a change that an increasing number of practices are adopting. With a clear client demand, easy to use tools and attractive returns it’s an opportunity for change that should not be missed.
So the next time you drizzle truffle oil over your pasta take a moment to consider its origins, it could well have come from North Wales.
Compliance work such as creating Accounts and producing Tax returns
provides a record of historic performance. IRIS Insight bridges the gap from past performance to future success.
Business advisor platform
IRIS Insight enables business advisers to provide high-value advice to clients using the insight locked away in their data.
By using IRIS Insight, advisers can help clients make smarter business decisions by identifying future problems, helping create solutions and reporting on the impact of those changes.
IRIS Insight is a comprehensive solution that includes profit & loss, balance sheet and cash flow forecasts with the added benefit of a powerful what-if analysis tool.
Grow Advisory Services
Help your clients plan their businesses more effectively, and quickly identify any obstacles they may face.
IRIS Insight provides a platform for providing advisory services such as cash flow planning, tax planning and virtual Finance Director services.
Closer Client Relationships
Advisers can play an integral role in the clients success and provide the valued advice when it’s needed.
Identify Problems Early
Create profit & loss, balance sheet and cash flow forecasts quickly and easily. The reports produced by IRIS Insight clearly presents data and highlights where critical problems will occur.
Make Informed Decisions
Advisers can use the powerful what-if functional to model the impact of business changes in seconds, allowing for more informed decisions to be made. See the impact of potential decisions in seconds, make informed choices and ensure you always stay on top of your cash flow.
Stay On Track
IRIS Insight enables advisers to track actual financial performance against forecast.
Review progress, make updates and collaborate with your clients to help them achieve their business goals.
Differentiate Your Practice
With ever increasing competition and fee pressure for compliance compliance work, providing added value services is becoming more important to clients. IRIS Insight helps you retain existing clients and attract new ones by providing a platform for offering advisory services.
A decade of technological change has had a huge impact on the economy. New systems, new ways of working and multiple communication channels have changed the way practices operate and made it easier for accountants to extend the range of services they offer.
In our webinar we discuss what high value advisory services your practice should implement and how to get these services running quickly.
Watch a recording of our webinar here
Our digital expert Alex Jennings-Temple interviews Kevin Whitehouse, owner of Prime Entry, about how a business advisory model can help your practice grow long-term sustainable clients.
Watch the recording of our webinar here
From its offices in historic Berwick- upon-Tweed just three miles from the Scottish border, J.H. Greenwood & Company serves clients in both England and Scotland. The firm’s own history stretches back nearly forty years, and it
builds on this heritage with an expanding range of business advisory services to meet clients’ changing needs. Principals are also keen to apply technology strategically to improve internal efficiency and build close relationships with clients across the region.
To find new forecasting software to support the firm’s delivery of business advisory services.
IRIS Accountancy Suite KashFlow
IRIS Docs IRIS Insight
Seeking the benefits of a fully integrated
accountancy system, J.H. Greenwood migrated from Sage software to the IRIS Accountancy Suite in 2012.
Since then, the firm has implemented IRIS solutions for compliance, practice management, bookkeeping and document management, but continued using the Sage Winforecast standalone forecasting tool until support for the software was withdrawn.
Principal Gillian O’Dea notes, “Spreadsheets only get you so far: you can’t ask ‘what if’ questions or stress-test your hypothesis. Get one
link wrong and the whole thing crashes. So, when a couple of years ago our previous forecasting product was no longer supported, we just had to find
a viable alternative. We also took the opportunity to explore the market and find a more advanced product, one that could offer the ease and convenience of being cloud-based, with complete flexibility on when and where forecasts can be accessed via the internet.”
Data entered into clients’ KashFlow online bookkeeping software forms the basis
of forecasts produced on IRIS Insight
Together, accountant and client can model different possible futures for the business
IRIS Insight produces forecasts with speed and accuracy, enabling a rapid response to clients’ urgent requests for advice
IRIS Insight offers the convenience of a cloud-based solution, which can be accessed from any location
J.H. Greenwood made a fast, effective start on its new software with help from IRIS
Asking searching questions
J.H. Greenwood makes a point of attending the annual IRIS World conference to keep up to date with product developments and see how other practices are using IRIS. Gillian says, “While at IRIS World, we mentioned our requirement for a forecasting solution that would link to our IRIS accounting software. As luck would have it, IRIS came back to us shortly afterwards to introduce a brand new member of the IRIS family: IRIS Insight!”
Getting started with IRIS Insight went smoothly: “It’s quite straightforward to use, but our first client presented a
particularly complex scenario, with eight branches to their business. We received every help to set them up on our new forecasting software.”
J.H. Greenwood has a diverse client base, ranging from sole traders to large companies. Many are owner-managed. Gillian comments, “I don’t think we’re unusual in finding that clients tend
to overestimate their income and underestimate their outgoings! With the help of IRIS Insight, we can challenge them, asking questions such as, “Why are you spending £30K on computers?”; “Why is your spending on repairs twice as much as you estimated?”; and “You said you were going to do this, but you’ve done that - why?”.
Planning for success
Gillian goes on to observe, “The whole purpose is, of course, to keep the client out of trouble. In the worst case, where a negative situation becomes
entrenched, we can show the client that their business model isn’t working. If the numbers don’t add up and the top line doesn’t cover their expenses, there’s no point avoiding the issue.”
IRIS Insight helps to turn the data into a meaningful message: “When we present the figures from IRIS Insight to them, it can sometimes be a chastening experience. They see how the business is performing in black and white - or rather in colour, as IRIS Insight uses traffic light colour-coding to make the risks and opportunities visible at a glance.”
Happily, it’s not all about aiding clients who are heading into choppy waters.
J.H. Greenwood helps clients to fulfil their growth ambitions: “We can check whether the client’s plans for expansion are grounded in reality, and if IRIS Insight confirms that they are, we can encourage them to plan for success, with sufficient resources. For example, we might suggest that they will need to take on more staff to handle rising order volumes.”
Sourcing funding from the banks One of the IRIS solutions that J.H. Greenwood already had in place was KashFlow online bookkeeping software.
As clients enter their business data into KashFlow, this flows into the firm’s systems, and provides the basis for forecasting, making IRIS Insight a natural extension to KashFlow.
“KashFlow shows where the business stands today, while IRIS Insight models what will happen in the future. Real-time data is key and drawing on the data coming in via KashFlow, we can produce a forecast with impressive speed. Say we’re doing six-month accounts for a client, we can show budgets to actuals for the rest of the year on IRIS Insight at the same time.”
Fast forecasting means that J.H. Greenwood can quickly come to the client’s rescue: “Should a client call me in a panic this afternoon about their overdraft and ask for help, I can turn around a detailed forecast for them by close of play. The categories are all set up: you basically enter the figures and you’re ready to go.”
Accurate, well founded forecasting is also essential to obtaining funding from banks and other sources. Gillian says, “Banks love forecasts! Nowadays, it’s not enough to provide a retrospective set of annual accounts. The bank wants to know how a business is performing today and how it’s likely to perform in the future. With IRIS Insight, it’s easy to provide a variety of forecasts.”
Adding value as a business partner Gillian says,
“Through IRIS tools such as KashFlow and IRIS Insight, we’re able to add value to the client’s business, rather than just being number-crunchers. This positions us as their true partner, helping them to gain and maintain control of their business.”
Since the initial implementation, the firm has expanded its use of IRIS Insight by purchasing more user licences. Gillian concludes, “At J.H. Greenwood, we love helping to companies to grow, and that involves making clients aware of any pitfalls that could trap the unwary, while helping them to identify opportunities, too. Using KashFlow for bookkeeping and IRIS Insight for forecasting supports us in achieving this. It’s good to see IRIS continuing to come up with the goods in meeting our evolving requirements.”
Kevin Whitehouse established Prime Entry in the late 1980s. From his office in Gillingham, North Dorset, and a satellite office in Bournemouth, he works with business owners whose annual sales range from £50,000 to
£4 million. Reflecting his commitment to innovation, Kevin was a finalist in the 2016 Practice Excellence Awards - Technology Champion of the Year category.
To help clients unlock the insight hidden in their financial data and to model scenarios for the future of their business.
IRIS Accountancy Suite KashFlow
KashFlow Payroll IRIS Insight
An IRIS user for twenty years, Kevin has always been keen to adopt technology wherever it will improve client service and increase efficiency by
eliminating time-consuming manual processes.
Latterly, he has started offering KashFlow to his clients. This powerful cloud-based accounting software feeds data from the client’s business into the practice’s IRIS Accounts Production software. Kevin comments, “KashFlow gives busy owner-managers a better grip on the finance side of their business, with complete visibility of their performance and where things might be coming adrift.”
Now Kevin has gone a step further by offering IRIS Insight cloud-based forecasting software. He explains,
“Whereas KashFlow shows you the past and what you’ve done, IRIS Insight shows you the future and where you’re going. It lets us compare budget with actuals and model a range of possible futures regarding sales, costs and profit.”
Explore the impact of business opportunities and threats with your clients
Available anywhere As a cloud solution, IRIS Insight can be accessed remotely by accountants and clients
Connect with your clients Build a closer partnership as your client’s trusted business adviser
Business data flows seamlessly from KashFlow online accounting software into IRIS Insight
Create an automatic forecast in minutes using actuals from KashFlow
Business Advisory Easily provide the plans, reports and advice your clients value
Kevin first encountered IRIS Insight at the IRIS World annual conference and was struck by its potential to save time, effort and cost: “Traditionally, accounts are done on one piece of software and budgeting on another, which is an expensive, time-consuming process. In contrast, IRIS Insight automatically brings in the figures from KashFlow.
If the client has been keeping their numbers up to date on KashFlow, the data flowing into IRIS Insight will also be current and accurate. It’s all
co-ordinated and seamless.”
He continues, “Clients get excited about using IRIS Insight to ask ‘what-if’ questions, such as ‘What would happen if we put our prices up by 10%?’ or ‘How much would cutting our costs by 5% help our cash flow?’ While I prompt them with the questions to explore, it encourages them to think about the future and take ownership of their destiny.”
Clients can see the future direction of their business unfold before their eyes: “There are lots of useful reports and instant KPIs. Information is displayed graphically, with green highlighting the positives and red highlighting areas of concern.”
IRIS Insight in action
Kevin goes on to give a real-world example of a client who was reviewing the products they sell and, after prompting by Kevin, looked at increasing their pricing.
He says, “Using IRIS Insight, the director soon found that by raising the price on just one product by 5%, they can generate an extra £24,000 of profit. They tell me, ‘This IRIS Insight is amazing!’ and they are now experimenting with it to cost out Christmas bundles.”
On a more mundane but equally important level, IRIS Insight helps to ensure there are no nasty surprises down the line, by modelling commitments such as VAT and Corporation Tax.
IRIS Insight can also be used to create a professional ‘bank-ready’ business plan. Kevin observes, “This is a useful exercise whether or not the client is actively seeking funding, as it clarifies their ambitions for the business. A neat feature of IRIS Insight is that it lets you work together on a shared document.”
An integral role in clients’ success Over time, Kevin has streamlined his client base and now supports a select number of enterprising business owners. He works closely with clients to become their expert adviser, someone who understands their business and whom they trust implicitly at a personal level. By enabling exceptional insight and analysis and supporting effective collaboration, solutions such as KashFlow and IRIS Insight are helping Kevin to make a success of his chosen business model.
Reassuringly, despite the high levels of automation in KashFlow and IRIS Insight, there is still ample scope for the accountant to add value, as Kevin emphasises: “No accountant need worry about putting themselves out of a job by offering IRIS Insight or KashFlow. These tools give you an opportunity to offer greater value to your client, by helping them succeed. I still go into the software to read,
interpret and interrogate the data and have the ability to override the figures. I’ll usually do this by sharing my screen with the client over Skype, being ready to query anything that doesn’t make sense. What tools like IRIS Insight do is put the power into the accountant’s hands to transform the client’s business.”
Kevin sums up, “It’s all about giving clients the systems to do the donkey- work, so that we can spend the limited time available to spot any anomalies that deserve further investigation and to model different scenarios. It moves Prime Entry even further away from number-crunching and ever higher up the value chain.”
Among the many challenges facing small business owners is the crucial task of maintaining a positive cash flow.
Almost half of the UK’s small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are being paid late, according to research published in 2016 by Bacs Payment Schemes Limited.
Check out our E-book All about the money to discover how you can help your SME clients manage their cash flow.
Adding Business Advisory Services to your Practice: How to increase value in a changing business environment