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Ditching Iris

 I'm well on the way to ditching Iris. Don't get me wrong, I like the product (use it for accounts prep, CT and SA), but it's too expensive, with further price rises expected soon.

I've decided on VT for accounts production (looked at Forbes/Absolute Accounts but don't like the accounts format- seems a bit inflexible), but am yet to choose the tax software.

I'm leaning towards Forbes/Absolute as it looks like it will do the job and isn't owned by Iris (like PTP and Drumohr are now), but wondered whether I could export from VT to Forbes for both CT and SA.

Any comments would be welcomed, as would any other tax software suggestions.

Thanks.

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Deep breath

Hi Molly - you don't say so excuse any presumption but make sure you balance the £ cost saving with the inefficiency of moving from a fully integrated system to bits & pieces.

I've used IRIS for donkeys (no it's not a new product) and, whilst it has its faults and I do grit my teeth when the direct debits hit, the benefit of having one system that handles everything "client" is something I'd hate to give up.

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09th Jul 2010 20:05

Used it since day 1

Thanks for your reply.

I too have used it for a long time - in fact I was working for one of the first practices to adopt it many,  many years ago.... 

My main gripe is on cost - got a letter the other day saying that they were putting the direct debit up again to cover the cost of moving to iXBRL. What a joke.

I am now a small sole practitioner and struggle to justify why I should pay £700 a quarter for a 50 client licence. I even managed to get a reduction last year after getting a quote from Sage, but that begs the question "why wasn't I being charged this lower fee in the first place?".

I will be glad to see the back of them.

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09th Jul 2010 22:31

Is it worth it ?

 

It's costing you £2,800 a year for a 50 client licence, so thats £56 per client, assuming that you use all 50 you're licenced for.

Using separate programmes might take a little longer, but is it worth paying £56 a client to save maybe 10 or 15 minutes per client?   

 

 

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09th Jul 2010 23:00

More People should leave Iris

More accountants should leave IRIS. They know that accountants will find it difficult to leave, that is why they have no problems with price increases.

Leaving them would be the best way to give then  a clear message.

For tax, I have found TaxCalc to be excellent.

 

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10th Jul 2010 08:50

Yep - up to my 50 client limit

Yep - i've used all of the 50 client licence, in fact i'm over that and have to mess about backing up a client so I can delete it and put a new one on.

Going up to the next level obviously costs even more. I just can't see how they can justify the costs. Talk about milking the cash cow!

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10th Jul 2010 08:52

VT to Taxcalc

Thanks FirstTab.

Do you know if i can import from VT to Taxcalc? 

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10th Jul 2010 09:10

Import VT to Tax Calc

I use VT as well. Importing from VT to TaxCalc is available and is very easy to do. 

 

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I need software to do more than accounts & tax returns

Again apologies if I'm getting the wrong end of the stick here (and I know nothing of VT) but I don't think people are comparing like with like.  Iris isn't and doesn't market itself as purely accounts & tax production software, rather its strategy is to build an integrated package of facilities to maintain and monitor all aspects of client relationships.  For example I value "Practice Management" as much, if not more, than accounts & tax production.

So I use Iris to create, track & maintain, all accounts, tax, PAYE and other work in/out & around the business, AML compliance, the entire client quoting and billing process, engagement & disengagement letters, new client take up, ex-client disengagement, cover emails/letters, job planning and post job reviews, client feedback, stat books/forms and targeted news on key topics to appropriate clients (and more).

I'm a sole prac'r with a PT fee earner & administrator and about 125 clients and so yes I'd have no problem with £56 pa per client for all the above as to do it all with disintegrated systems would add hours pa per client. (Don't pass this on to Iris as I pay £48).

So if you don't need or want to use all of the above then perhaps you were wrong to take up Iris or Iris has developed and overtaken you're requirements?  It's a shame but that's life, and it's not all their fault.

 

 

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10th Jul 2010 10:19

Mollyfatha make the move

It really gets to me, once these software providerts have a core loyal base- prices go up. If any software providers I use does this, I would move, even though the cost of the move would be higher.

Just make the move from IRIS Mollyfatha. If more like you leave, in the end they will not have an option but bring the price down to a more reasonable level. And also not to take their loyal customers for granted. At the moment they have no hesitation in increasing prices.IRIS is terrible with this. 

Any cost increases should be meet by increasing volume and finding efficiences not another increase in prices.

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10th Jul 2010 10:35

I wonder how clients would react if separately detailed on their bills was the line -

Licence for software used to prepared your accounts etc ................... £56.00.  

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Hey!

I've seen practices split the cost of their audit licence between audit clients as a disbusement, why not recharge the software too. You could always tell your clients that pert of the bill will go down if they recommend their friends to you. Then it's split more ways!

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10th Jul 2010 10:57

Still a rip off!

I too used IRIS for 'Practice Management'. Indeed, the practice management module is actually very cheep, but you could replace the job tracking and  management reports (e.g. Companies House filing deadlines etc) with a simple spreadsheet. As far as the standard letters are concerned within the Automail module, well they needed a lot of tailoring to get them into a format that was exceptable to send to a client. Give me a mail merge from Word any day! The engagement letters were the same and seemed to be lacking in certain areas.

I used to work for a sizable practice that was being charged £25k a year by IRIS......and that was 5 years ago......I dread to think what they are being charged now.

Like I said, i've got a small practice so cost is key. I'd have no hope trying to pass on the price increases i've had whilst using IRIS for the past 4 years.

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10th Jul 2010 11:36

Logical Office

I started to use Logical Office for practice management, CRM and Document management. So far I am happy these. Though there are a couple of issues I am trying to sort out with Logical Office supplier.

My review is here.

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CD don't understand your question

I've just sent out a handfull of bills from £2K to £4K for the year's services, how would sectioning out £48 of a £2K or £4K bill cause clients any concern, in fact, given what I produce for them and the way in which we keep their affairs up to date they may ask me to double check the expense as it looks like petty cash?

Similarly I could section out £53 for property costs or £18.40 for telecom costs, I don't understand your point?

I've wondered this before but this really does beg the question are you an accountant?  If so, how about some pro-active advice, what systems does your firm use and what is the cost per client? 

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10th Jul 2010 14:52

Trust me I'm not just an accountant

I've wondered this before but this really does beg the question are you an accountant?  If so, how about some pro-active advice, what systems does your firm use and what is the cost per client? 

 

Posted by Paul Scholes on Sat, 10/07/2010 - 13:30

 

That's pretty insulting - for your information I qualified 39 years ago.  I then went on to gain a Phd in law and have since run both practices side by side. Am I your "average" accountant?  God forbid. Yes we knock out tax returns etc like anyone else, but, I hope, we manage to be much more than just glorified bookkeepers.

My "point" was very clear - that IRIS is ridiculously expensive per client for what is a fairly low grade basic programme which achieves nothing that cannot be achieved far better by using stand alone modules. The vast majority of our work is done in Excel.  We have our own bookkeeping programme written in excel, which produces VAT returns, trial balances, etc automatically, and even has a "self repair" facility which means that any client using it who accidently overwrites a formula can, at the click of a button, completely re-write every formula in every sheet without losing any data.

This is then automatically fed into our accounts module, and after all adjustments have been completed, the results are ready to easily transfer into whichever tax return package we wish to use (we give each staff member the freedom to chose which they personaly prefer to use).  Tax Calc seems to be the favourite with most.

The cost of this was about 4 weeks of my time to write the original programme, and about 2-3 hours a year to make simple updates to account for changing legislation etc.

All our larger clients use it, with the exception of one. It's simple, fool proof, is easily tailored to fit each client's requirements, and "free" to our clients as the cost of developing it if spread between all our client, would work out at less than a pound per client.

Client control and progress is carried out by a dedicated member of staff whose whole reason for existing is to track the work on each client's files, chase up deadlines, and even ensure that we never miss a client's birthday or any other important date. She also chases up refunds if they are not received as they should be, ensures that client's records are received by us within 2 months of their year end, and ensures that their returns are submitted on time, accounts and annual returns are submitted on time to companies house, etc. 

Any member of staff can access this information on the data-base and see not only what has and has not been done, but if meeting the client, they can - and do - make sure they remember the client's personal details.  Asking a client how his kids exams went, or if his dogs operatiojn was a success, or whether he enjoyed his holiday in wherever, goes a long way to ensuring that the client feels valued. 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks CD very very informative

You rarely say comments are just plain old insulting they are usually "quite" on this this case "pretty", anyway, it was a valid question as I really couldn't understand why a cost of £56 out of a multi-K fee should raise eyebrows. 

So your methods cost you £1 pa per client plus the cost of your dedicated member of staff so presumably you'd have a problem invoicing his/her salary cost separately on the bill?  I too would need another member of staff if I didn't have a system to monitor client affairs so swings & roundabouts eh?

Your spreadsheet system sounds pretty good, maybe you could licence it to others here?

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10th Jul 2010 18:08

Paul

You rarely say comments are just plain old insulting they are usually "quite" on this this case "pretty", anyway, it was a valid question as I really couldn't understand why a cost of £56 out of a multi-K fee should raise eyebrows. 

Posted by Paul Scholes on Sat, 10/07/2010 - 16:35

 

And what about the smaller clients - the £300 - £500 ones, where the IRIS licence equates to 10% - 20% of the fee (as its the same regardless of the size of the client).   Or are you saying that all your clients are charged in the thousands?

 

 

 

So your methods cost you £1 pa per client plus the cost of your dedicated member of staff so presumably you'd have a problem invoicing his/her salary cost separately on the bill?  I too would need another member of staff if I didn't have a system to monitor client affairs so swings & roundabouts eh?

Posted by Paul Scholes on Sat, 10/07/2010 - 16:35 

There is no "extra" cost involved.  The work she does means that fee earners dont have to do it.  Every £1 she costs us saves over a £1 of a fee earners time.  Just because Henry Ford used 20 men to build a car instead of one it didnt put the cost up, because he made 20 in the same time.  Simples.  In actual fact he managed to make 40 in the same time making the overall cost less. And specialisation actually improves productivity and quality - let's face it most accountants are rubbish at PR.

 

 

Your spreadsheet system sounds pretty good, maybe you could licence it to others here?

 

Posted by Paul Scholes on Sat, 10/07/2010 - 16:35

 

Not a bad idea - I'm going to look at a way to make a basic version available for anyone to download for free.  (I really cant be bothered with messing about with licences).     

 

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Signing out of this one

With our history (2 planets) and the thread drifting off Molly's question, time to go.

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10th Jul 2010 18:23

Is this right?

@CD - from previous posts you employ 40 accountants, look after thousands of clients and a multi-million pound practice and from this post:

1) All accounts production in done in Excel?

2) All your “larger” clients (by one) use a bookkeeping system you wrote in four weeks in Excel?

3) You have one practice manager....you say “a dedicated member of staff whose whole reason for existing is to track the work on each client's files, chase up deadlines, and even ensure that we never miss a client's birthday or any other important date. She also chases up refunds if they are not received as they should be, ensures that client's records are received by us within 2 months of their year end, and ensures that their returns are submitted on time, accounts and annual returns are submitted on time”.  

4) You think £56 is ridiculously expensive for a system like IRIS.

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing

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10th Jul 2010 19:45

Do you have a problem with that ??????????????????

Your summary is near enough not to argue with Bob.

We have a mix of qualifieds & QBE's - some on here would of course argue that if not qualified they are not accountants.

Each fee earner has between 100 - 200 clients allocated to them (depending on size etc etc) and they are primarily responsible for those clients.

Clients keep a variety of books.  We still have many who prefer hand written books. We have some who turn up with the ubiquitous shoe box full of receipts. And, we have some who are computer literate and use our spreadsheet based programme.

Yes our accounts preparation, audit schedules, tax computation etc are all produced using excel templates we have developed ourselves.

 

Yes I think IRIS is ridiculously expensive, particularly as it is inflexible and poorly written. 

 

 

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11th Jul 2010 08:29

Practice management and integration is an important factor

I get the impression that Iris is expensive. I use Digita and since they were taken over by Thomson Reuters I have wondered whether they would try to increase prices and lower the quality of the products and technical support.

I agree with Paul that the benefits of having integrated software that also deals with practice management are very useful. I presently do a lot of practice management using spreadsheets but next month I will be converting over to complete reliance on Digita’s Practice Management and FileCabinet. Being a sole practitioner with over 200 clients means that managing the work can take up a large part of the time. My spreadsheets are very useful but it’s easy to forget something and having planning, WIP, fees and tasks integrated should reduce my time spent on management significantly. A bigger practice can afford to have one person devoted to practice management and then spreadsheets and databases come into their own.

Comparing the cost per client isn’t useful because I don’t use Accounts Production for non-limited companies due to spreadsheets being adequate and different clients require different software and clients vary in their level of management required. Do Iris have one overall license? Digita’s licenses relate to the software – so I can have 100 personal tax and 50 accounts production or vice versa.

“The cost of this was about 4 weeks of my time to write the original programme, and about 2-3 hours a year to make simple updates to account for changing legislation etc.”

How can it possibly only take 2-3 hours a year to update?

I’d much rather use third party software even if it is badly designed given the regular changes required. Although I do accept that it’s frustrating when a user points out silly things like Sage’s P11D software which required the User ID and password input for each submission and each client has the agent details needing to be entered separately yet Sage Payroll doesn’t require this. It’s simply laziness on the part of software companies and Sage, Iris and Digita all suffer from this. Hopefully, Digita will improve their software to the level required by accountants. I’ve no idea why Digita’s list of clients suddenly no longer gave a total of clients. It’s small things like this that makes you worry about the bigger things!

 

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11th Jul 2010 09:11

Look externally!

@All – I work with accountants who use Digita and IRIS and they also pay me between £35 and £60 per client for bookkeeping software which they give away for fee, so their software cost per client is closer to £100.  But, they are making £125 an hour!

The trouble with "internal" sofware is that it doesn't help the client.  The magic of "external" bookkeeping software with training and coaching is add value for the client and a win for the practice.  The added value means the firm is able to charge higher prices because their proposition is stronger.  And, they will spend less time at the year end because the bookkeeping is better so their margins are higher. 

If you improve the quality of your client’s books by getting them to do bank reconciliations your profits from year-end accounts with double or treble so you won't care about £50.

@CD – I don’t have a problem; I do have a few more questions regarding the 100-200 clients per fee earner. 

The reason I am asking is because I wonder if your business model is very close to the one I based MORE software on of the practice owner working ON the business now IN it.  I assume with 40 fee earners with 100-200 clients each you do not have any client contact with 90% of clients.  Perhaps the only difference is that you have developed internal systems and I developed an external one?

My questions are:

What is the average fee?What percentage are business clients?What percentage of fees is for compliance?How much client contact do you have?What is your firm's profitability. MORE is about high recovery rates (£125 an hour) from small fees by having good books, what is your firm’s recovery rate and what is the net profit margin?

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing

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11th Jul 2010 09:42

peter

The cost of this was about 4 weeks of my time to write the original programme, and about 2-3 hours a year to make simple updates to account for changing legislation etc.”

How can it possibly only take 2-3 hours a year to update? 

Posted by petersaxton on Sun, 11/07/2010 - 08:29

 

That is approximately how long it takes to drop in the revised tax bands/rates, VAT rate changes etc (our spreadsheet is date sensitive).

 

 

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11th Jul 2010 09:47

Other legislation and clients

There's much more changes than tax bands, etc. What about iXBRL?

It's all very well asking clients to do bookkeeping and bank reconciliations but there's plenty of clients not able or willing to do that.

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11th Jul 2010 10:24

Clients

@Peter - who mentioned "asking clients"?

Just tell them and give them a choice to pay a supplementary bookkeeping levy.  If they don't want to do the book properly and they won't pay the levy market yourself away from them.  But, remember I suggest offering free bookkeeping software, training and coaching to support the client as well as rewarding the client with regular reviews including tax estimates.

There is plenty of leverage you can use in terms of fines and penalties as well as tax/business management reasons why good bookkeeping is the right thing to do.

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing

 

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11th Jul 2010 10:31

Bob

I assume with 40 fee earners with 100-200 clients each you do not have any client contact with 90% of clients.  Perhaps the only difference is that you have developed internal systems and I developed an external one? 

Posted by Bob Harper on Sun, 11/07/2010 - 09:11

 

 

Actually I have a lot of contact with clients - as much as can be fitted in.  On the legal side of course I have 100% client contact (although I have occasionaly handled cases having only met the client literally minutes earlier). 

Many of our clients have been clients for 20+ years, and of course, many are from the local community.  Obviously even now I make a point of dealing with the larger clients personally, even though a fee earner may be responsible for their day to day care.

Of course it's impossible to see every client - indeed that is one thing that I do not like and wish I could change as I do believe in personal service.  However, each client has his "own accountant" within the practice and that person deals with his/her clients exactly as if they were a sole practitioner - giving personal service and always being available to "their" clients.

 

____________________________________________

 

My questions are:

What is the average fee?What percentage are business clients?What percentage of fees is for compliance?How much client contact do you have?What is your firm's profitability. MORE is about high recovery rates (£125 an hour) from small fees by having good books, what is your firm’s recovery rate and what is the net profit margin

Posted by Bob Harper on Sun, 11/07/2010 - 09:11

 

 

Do you really expect me to give detailed answers to these questions?  Maybe you would like a copy of our accounts & a client list?  Sorry for being sarcastic Bob, but no one is going to disclose such details of their business unless they are trying to sell it - and our practice is defenitely not and never will be up for sale.

I will say that our lowest fees are around the £200 mark, and we have several in the £10,000 plus area.   I'm not sure what you mean by "business clients" - all our clients are "in business" in some form or other.

Profitability?  - We have no debts, make an extremely good living (our staff earn well above the rates paid by other companies in the area), we have sufficient surplus for our charity committments, and sufficient in the firms bank account to run and pay our salaries etc for at least 2 years if no more money came in.  There is no "black hole" in our pension fund (which is a final salary scheme), and, much more important that money (I know some will consider that statement heresy) we have a good life style and actually enjoy our work - which to me has always been far more important than "profit".

The most satisfying moments in my life have been winning relatively small unimportant cases on a pro-bono basis for "little people".  Not because it's "important" to anyone else, but, because it's meant a lot to very deserving people.  I get far more from helping someone who is "down & out" get back onto their feet, than I do from helping a businessman make an extra few £million.  And the reason I first went it alone was not to make more money, but, to give myself a better lifestyle and working environment - which is why I would never expand the business if it meant that to do so we would have to move into some soulless office in the middle of a city instead of staying in our rural location. 

Put it another way - I may not be the richest accountant around, we are probably not the most modern or the most profitable, BUT, we are the most content and would not entertain anything that could change that. So, whilst we embrace technology - we assess everything not just for it's usefulness, but also for its effect upon our little family.

 

 

 

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11th Jul 2010 11:01

Peter

It's all very well asking clients to do bookkeeping and bank reconciliations but there's plenty of clients not able or willing to do that.

 

Posted by petersaxton on Sun, 11/07/2010 - 09:47

 

As I said we have our share of "shoe box" clients. That's no problem, we simply charge accordingly.  

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11th Jul 2010 11:12

Client choice

I charge extra for sorting out any mess so it's their choice. I don't see any reason to do it any other way.

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11th Jul 2010 11:31

The business model explians a lot

@CD – I don't see what the problem is in answering these fairly generic questions.  You are not using your own name and it would allow a better understand your business model so it could be compared to others.  It would also help put in context your comments on IRIS.

For example, if your average fee is £500, net profit 20% then based on 150 clients per "manager" a sole-trader accountant listening to your advice/opinions should know that if they want to make £100,000 a year they would need GRF of £500,000 from 1,000 clients and need to employ seven qualified accountants. 

If you have low margins and thousands of clients with very simple accounts (sole-traders) then maybe it makes sense for you not to pay IRIS but that doesn't mean it will for other firms.

Based on what you have and haven’t said I can only assume my example above is probably not too far off the reality and that the majority of the firms fees is with simple compliance work. 

By the way, my comments are not a criticism because I respect the business model based on The E-Myth where the business owner doesn't need to work in the business.  I just think there is a better way by:

Using free bookkeeping software at the front endGetting clients doing bank reconciliations or replacing themUsing software at the back endEnhancing the service with extensions like tax forecasting and regular reviews on ALL clients

@Peter & CD - yes you can charge extra for sorting out a mess but this will not be very profitable and it will be a massive opportunity cost because it's a waste of an accountants resource. 

I see this model dying out and so with the accountants and firms that rely on it using the midset of contribution towards overheads!

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing

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By MBK
11th Jul 2010 11:47

Back to the original question!!

The issue is one of philosophy. Either you back the concept of one integrated solution or you take a "best of breed" approach. I don't think the cost differences (generally) are particularly material in the context of the whole.

With best of breed you will definitely get better individual applications - the inevitable consequence of an integrated solution is that there will be parts of it that are less good than others.

We have run with best of breed for the past 15 years or so. Sure, we had some learning to do to ensure things didn't fall down the cracks in the middle - but we've had that sorted for ages now. The "benefits" of an integrated solution are actually very minor and the time saving negligible provided you exercise control. And, if you have best of breed, you know you have software that actually does the job it was designed to do more efficiently - so it more than saves the time that you might need to spend inputting or importing common data.

Of course, with best of breed you need to continually evaluate whether what you have is actually the best. For that reason we will be changing our personal tax software in the spring.

There isn't a right answer but, judging by the comments of a few of our contemporary firms who have integrated solutions, I think best of breed is the right answer at this moment.

And there is one huge advantage highlighted by the OP. You are not beholden to just one supplier who knows they have you over a barrel.

 

 

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11th Jul 2010 11:48

You have your way and I'll have my way and we'll be judged by th

I think CD doesn't like giving too much information because it will encourage stalkers - you know, these people who hang around accounting websites and then travel the country to sit outside an accountants house.

I do accounts for people who need an accountant and I charge accordingly. I don't have a rigid model. Having a rigid model usually results in the business going bust because the owner can't respond the situations.

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11th Jul 2010 12:02

Real benefits

<<<The "benefits" of an integrated solution are actually very minor and the time saving negligible provided you exercise control.>>>

Do you really consider the benefits minor when you take into account the following practice management issues:

Deadlines,

Tracking stages

Controlling work in progress,

Calculating profitability,

Staff allocation (even a sole practitioner has to plan his time),

Invoicing,

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By MBK
11th Jul 2010 12:06

All dealt with by best of breed

We run a practice of 30 odd people, several hundred business clients, in top quartile performance by ICAEW benchmarks - and none of the issues you list cause us any kind of problem.

So, you see, best of breed can do it. It's just a question of your philosophical approach to it. It's true, we are very interested in IT in our practice so can perhaps see more readily how to make best of breed work.

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11th Jul 2010 12:16

IRIS ripping off customers?

i was under the impression, obviously mistaken, that software houses  were not going to and were not allowed to increase prices as a result of iXRBL compliance - well i was obviously wrong - mind you if there was one company that was likely to increase prices  

and as for Mr Hellyer suggestion of charging on to the customer, well i have heard some silly things before .... when he writes a letter to client does he add a bill for using MS Word or similar

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11th Jul 2010 12:23

Practice management and best of breed

"We run a practice of 30 odd people, several hundred business clients, in top quartile performance by ICAEW benchmarks - and none of the issues you list cause us any kind of problem."

I am a sole practitioner working alone and have over 200 clients so on that basis I'm not doing bad although of course there are "clients" and "clients". I charge my biggest clients around £7k per year down to maybe £150. I'm seeing somebody tomorrow who wants me to help him account for his personal finances. Individual jobs may not always bring in £1,000's but I enjoy the variety.

"So, you see, best of breed can do it. It's just a question of your philosophical approach to it. It's true, we are very interested in IT in our practice so can perhaps see more readily how to make best of breed work."

I'm interested in IT too but it's not cost effective to spend the time writing or linking programs even if I could.

What software do you use and consider "best of breed" for practice management?

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11th Jul 2010 12:25

Obviously wrong

"i was under the impression, obviously mistaken, that software houses  were not going to and were not allowed to increase prices as a result of iXRBL compliance - well i was obviously wrong"

Are you being sarcastic? I would have thought that software companies would see it as an ideal opportunity to put up prices.

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11th Jul 2010 12:51

Strategy

@MBK – I am not sure the OP question is about an integrated system or best of breed, I think it’s about cost and trying to make a profit. 

The point I am making is that accountants are too internally focused.  Most seem obsessed with getting the best systems rather than being passionate about adding value and capturing it in their price.  If a firm gets their pricing and client management right £56 or £100 a client is a non issue.

@Peter –yes, there are different ways to run a practice and it’s interesting to see how the practice strategy impacts the owner’s life.  The firm's I work with know they can make £75,000 working part-time on their own or £150,000 from a small team by applying the free bookkeeping software strategy.  But, I know what is right for one will not be right for another and having a strategy which involves turning work away is tough.

No, I don’t know about stalkers so like I said, because my questions are generic, CD is not using his real name and is happy to share his experience and opinions I don’t see what the problem is. 

At the moment, my conclusion about CD's model is that if an accountant wants to make £100,000 and is happy with 1,000 clients and seven employees then maybe they should listen to CD.  I quite like the model but I'd do it with a more focused client profile which included the client using software and higher recovery rates.

@CD - did you grow organically or take over other firms?

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing

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11th Jul 2010 12:58

Opportunity

@All - is there an opportunity for a migration service provider? Someone who could help you move data from one system to another?

I ask because I know of an online development that will allow users of SaaS to switch from one provider to another.  So, if you where using an online accounting system and wanted to switch to another you could very easily which is a big advantage for SaaS users especially as prices fall.

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing

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11th Jul 2010 13:01

Yes

"@All - is there an opportunity for a migration service provider? Someone who could help you move data from one system to another?"

I'd say yes.

 

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11th Jul 2010 13:17

Software union

@All - is there is a place for a software union?

I wonder what IRIS would do if a few hundred firms co-ordinated their negotiations and requests.

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing

 

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11th Jul 2010 15:54

If it ain't broke, don't fix it

 

At the moment, my conclusion about CD's model is that if an accountant wants to make £100,000 and is happy with 1,000 clients and seven employees then maybe they should listen to CD.  I quite like the model but I'd do it with a more focused client profile which included the client using software and higher recovery rates.

 

 

 

Posted by Bob Harper on Sun, 11/07/2010 - 12:51

 

 

 

Well as my methods work for 43 fee earners plus 8 support staff, each fee earner having 150-200 allocated clients, with an average annual fee level of over £1,000/client I would suggest that my methods and more importantly, philosophy, works, and works well. 

And if you think I would have invested what I have for a £100,000 profit then you obviously have little idea about what motivates people.

As I have said, money is not my main motivation, indeed it doesnt motivate me at all.  That is what comes with maturity and 40 years of reasonable success. From my own personal point of view I really couldnt care less what profits we make so long as there's enough to pay the bills and salaries, pay a good bonus, and of course keep HMRC quiet.  

What DOES motivate me is what I can do with that money, both within the business in making it secure, and, outside the business in what good it can do with our charity work.  

As I write this I have on my desk a court file I am working on - probono.  I wont receive a cent for it, and, by the time it's done I will have invested, at a guess, maybe 2-300 hours.  BUT, I will get more satisfaction from it that anything money can buy and hopefuly some pretty nasty characters will be put out of business and their victims lives improved immeasurably.

Perhaps Bob, instead of pushing fancy theories, and constantly chasing profit maximisation, you should give more thought to the unmeasurable but neverthless important aspects of being in business - any business.

Perhaps also you should think more carefully before making judgements about the methods of those who have succeeded. You may think you know what does and doesnt work - I on the other hand know what HAS worked and CONTINUES to work.  Have you never heard the saying - "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" ?  

 

 

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11th Jul 2010 17:44

CD Bookkeeping program

If you ever do make it available for free, please let me know! Some of my clients could really use it.

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Pip

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11th Jul 2010 18:14

Numbers

@CD - the only theory that I push is value which is good, especially for clients.

I was openly making some assumptions because you didn’t answer the questions but now you have clarified a few things it's no clearer!

With 175 clients per fee earner and say an average fee of £1,250 I make that £218,750 per fee earner.  That’s impressive especially as there is all sorts of bookkeeping and an Excel spreadsheet to do accounts.

With 43 fee earners I make GRF £9.4 million.  That’s very different from another thread where you spoke about your turnover.  So is the number of clients. You’ve said before you have 4,000 – 5,000 clients but 43 fee earners x 175 clients is 7,500 clients!

I didn’t say you were doing anything for £100,000 and I am not an accountant anymore so can you explian the differences?

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing

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11th Jul 2010 18:18

free

If you ever do make it available for free, please let me know! Some of my clients could really use it.

Thanks

Pip

 

Posted by pipper01 on Sun, 11/07/2010 - 17:44

 

I'm having a chat with a friend this week - with a view to putting it online so it can be downloaded as an excel template. I'll let you know when its sorted so you can download and evaluate.

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11th Jul 2010 18:51

The value of value

@CD - 40 years of success or not, no one is really motivated by money but what it can buy and that will be different for different people.

However, perhaps if you were more interested in profit perhaps you’d make more so your business would be more secure and you could do more for your charities which is what motivates you.

I also do work for free with the intention of making accountant’s businesses better.  This includes posts here as well as one-to-one conversations.  I am also working on a grant for start-ups which based on the numbers should be worth about £500k a year.

What works and what doesn’t is a judgment and people will have different views based on their definition of success. For firms who want to challenge themselves in terms of success from a client’s perspective can ask themselves the question “how many clients would retain your services if accounts where not a legal requirement?”  

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing

 

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11th Jul 2010 19:10

You really dont get it do you.

However, perhaps if you were more interested in profit perhaps you’d make more so your business would be more secure and you could do more for your charities which is what motivates you.

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing

 

Posted by Bob Harper on Sun, 11/07/2010 - 18:51

 

You really dont get it do you.

Firstly I can assure you that my business is totally secure. And it's future is secure as and when I fall off my perch. We have no premises to rent - all bought & paid for.  No loans or overdrafts. And enough cash in the bank to run for at least 2 years paying full salaries without taking in a penny. I'd call that very secure.

As for our charity work - thats all about committment and time - not money. Its about understanding - not about throwing cash around. We dont need more money - we need more volunteers.  And the kind of work we do, you cant hire staff to do. 

As for the business, our profits grow every year, but, that growth comes from helping our clients so that they grow, not from selling them services they dont want and dont need.  If they need it then they get it, but we wont charge for anything that is not necessary for the clients benefit.

Its something I call ethics, a moral code. 

 

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11th Jul 2010 20:14

Use of money

"enough cash in the bank to run for at least 2 years paying full salaries without taking in a penny"

In round numbers: If you have 50 staff costing an average of £40k then that would be £2 million in the bank. Even if each member of staff cost £20k that would be £1 million.

Surely, that is not a good use of the money?

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11th Jul 2010 22:37

Interest

It's a good bit more than that. And yes its a good use of money. It's totally safe & earning a good rate of interest (well as good as you can get in todays market). And most important of all, it's securing the future for myself, my business, and my staff.

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12th Jul 2010 04:35

Why not under the bed?

"well as good as you can get in todays market"

That's my point. Wouldn't it be better invested in properties?

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12th Jul 2010 07:46

Secure numbers

@CD - I didn’t say your business wasn’t totally secure. You said in your “If it ain't broke, don't fix it” comment that what does motivate you is making it (the business) secure.

I did notice something in your “Trust me I’m not just an accountant” comment. You said:

Client control and progress is carried out by a dedicated member of staff whose whole reason for existing is to track the work on each client's files, chase up deadlines, and even ensure that we never miss a client's birthday or any other important date. She also chases up refunds if they are not received as they should be, ensures that client's records are received by us within 2 months of their year end, and ensures that their returns are submitted on time, accounts and annual returns are submitted on time to companies house.

This is written as if there is just one person that looks after the management of 7,500 clients.  Could you confirm this along with clearing up with the differences on the numbers?

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing 

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