Howard Marks
Blogger
Share this content
0
37
5545

Iris buys Kashflow - who's surprised?

Iris buys Kashflow - who's surprised?

http://www.iris.co.uk/insight/news/2013/iris-acquires-kashflow-to-extend-its-position-as-the-uk-s-premier-cloud-and-desktop-software-provider-for-accountants-and-smes/

So, with FreeAgent already in the bag (sort of), Iris have now acquired Kashflow.

How does that sit with current FreeAgent/OpenBooks users?

Replies

Please login or register to join the discussion.

17th Oct 2013 13:30

Perfectly

As accountants we should, I believe, offer clients the best solutions to their needs and, as an Iris user it's been great to make use (and continue to make use) of OpenBooks but it's just one system with its own features and emphasis.

With Iris's commitment to Cloud facilities they would be the first to realise they needed to offer something more and so the full integration of an alternative makes perfect sense, not just to them, but other Iris users who now have an alternative to offer to clients.

 

Thanks (1)
By redman7
17th Oct 2013 14:31

Interesting

Quite surprised with this

I got the impression Iris were closely tied in with FreeAgent so this seems a little odd...

It sounds like going forwards Kashflow will be more of a priority to Iris than FreeAgent. I don't know how bothered I am by this as I am happy to deal with FreeAgent directly - Iris's customer support of their OpenBooks product is shockingly bad compared to the direct customer support provided by FreeAgent (which is awesome). It's only the cheaper prices I can get through Iris OpenBooks vs directly with FreeAgent which helps. 

I've never used Kashflow as I'm happy with FreeAgent for simple clients and Xero for more complicated ones. 

Thanks (1)
17th Oct 2013 15:23

@redman

redman7 wrote:

Quite surprised with this

I got the impression Iris were closely tied in with FreeAgent so this seems a little odd...

 

Perhaps Sage were sniffing around so Iris jumped in first...

 

redman7 wrote:

It sounds like going forwards Kashflow will be more of a priority to Iris than FreeAgent. I don't know how bothered I am by this as I am happy to deal with FreeAgent directly - Iris's customer support of their OpenBooks product is shockingly bad compared to the direct customer support provided by FreeAgent (which is awesome). It's only the cheaper prices I can get through Iris OpenBooks vs directly with FreeAgent which helps. 

 

I'd definitely agree with that statement and wouldn't be surprised if either a) Iris cooled their interest in FA over time or b) Kashflow was taken in a very different direction.  As for the cheaper prices, i'm sure Iris will again offer a OpenBooks style discount once the integration's underway.

 

 

Thanks (0)
By Locutus
17th Oct 2013 15:40

Sage

Platform wrote:

redman7 wrote:

Quite surprised with this

I got the impression Iris were closely tied in with FreeAgent so this seems a little odd...

Perhaps Sage were sniffing around so Iris jumped in first...

 

I suppose it makes sense that Sage join the party soon and buy out one of these cloud players shortly, as it's generally acknowledged that SageOne isn't up to the mark.

Xero is too expensive.  FreeAgent and now Kashflow belong to Iris.  Twinfield belongs to CCH.  Who's left?

... I know someone on this thread who will be mightily annoyed if Clearbooks sell out to Newcastle! ;-)

Thanks (0)
17th Oct 2013 19:35

Long term vision

Locutus wrote:

... I know someone on this thread who will be mightily annoyed if Clearbooks sell out to Newcastle! ;-)

What separates Clear Books from FreeAgent, KashFlow, Xero, IRIS and Sage is that our shareholders are not venture capital, pension funds or overseas investors. We are owned by British businesses, entrepreneurs and accountants - our customers. We're on a completely unique trajectory with different motives and a bigger vision than selling out after a few years.

Thanks (3)
avatar
17th Oct 2013 15:57

FreeAgent

Just to clarify, FreeAgent is and continues to be an independent company and is not owned by IRIS although they are a minority shareholder.

More details of how we're now engaging directly with accountants - and rolling out our awesome support (thanks redman7!) - can be found on our blog http://www.freeagent.com/central/freeagent-now-even-friendlier-with-acco...

Ed Molyneux, FreeAgent Founder and CEO

Thanks (1)
17th Oct 2013 16:15

Thanks for joining the conversation

edmolyneux wrote:

Just to clarify, FreeAgent is and continues to be an independent company and is not owned by IRIS although they are a minority shareholder.

More details of how we're now engaging directly with accountants - and rolling out our awesome support (thanks redman7!) - can be found on our blog http://www.freeagent.com/central/freeagent-now-even-friendlier-with-acco...

Ed Molyneux, FreeAgent Founder and CEO

 

Would you potentially expect to buy back that minority shareholding in the not so distant future given the Kashflow news Ed?

Thanks (1)
avatar
17th Oct 2013 16:36

FAC and KF are completely different markets

We get our clients to use either FAC or KF.  They cater to different needs so can sit nicely together for our fairly average client base.  I can't see any conflicts with IRIS being involved with both - they're not natural competitors for eachother's typical user.

Thanks (0)
17th Oct 2013 17:34

@Ken

Ken Howard wrote:

We get our clients to use either FAC or KF.  They cater to different needs so can sit nicely together for our fairly average client base.  I can't see any conflicts with IRIS being involved with both - they're not natural competitors for eachother's typical user.

Please elaborate on the main characteristics of the clients that you steer towards FAC, and similarly for KF. In my rather uninformed mind, I had grouped them together.

Thanks.

Thanks (0)
17th Oct 2013 16:49

Collaboration rather than Competition

My practice has benefited greatly from the collaboration between Iris & FreeAgent and, as Ed says, it was never a case of a takeover it was always a partnership.

Whilst a degree of competition is healthy in generating adaption and innovation there is a tipping point after which is can become destructive.

Iris have 15,000 practice customers and, within those, there will be a significant number of potential FreeAgent users as well as, I have no doubt, KashFlow users.  For me and my clients, that remains a good mix.

Thanks (1)
18th Oct 2013 09:52

Clear Books

Xero, Iris, FreeAgent, QuickBooks, Sage, etc. seem to be messing about with reorganisations/unusual promotions/massive changes/takeovers, etc. whereas Clear Books (albeit with a share issue) seems to be moving forward in a sensible direction.

QuickBooks have just told me that there's no accountants deal regarding their £9 per month simple option. I contacted Iris over two weeks ago to make a new partner application and other than receiving an email saying they will attend to it as soon as possible I've not heard anything.

Clear Books are easily the most impressive with their £90 per year deal which I will pass on to my clients. Obviously, it's not just about the money but their software and attitude seems good, too.

Thanks (3)
18th Oct 2013 14:44

I'm glad to agree

It's all getting very messy up top and so the uncluttered one stop shop that I think CBs offers, with the added bonus of their Pro offerings for accountants, currently under development, is a breath of fresh air.

Thanks (0)
18th Oct 2013 15:00

CB's

In what way do you think ClearBooks is a one stop shop?  I was under the impression for instance it doesn't even give live CT or personal tax calculations, just VAT?

 

Not that i'm discounting it by any means, i'm yet to give it a run as yet.  I'm just intrigued as to why it's really too much different than the rest.

Thanks (0)
18th Oct 2013 17:15

Clear Books has payroll as well. I don't necessarily agree with Paul in that Clear Books is a "one stop shop" but I do think it appears to have a very sensible approach from a small company that doesn't try to grow beyond it's means too fast. It seems to be making sensible progress. Tim seems to know exactly what most accountants want from an online bookkeeping perspective.

Thanks (0)
18th Oct 2013 17:47

Sorry for any confusion

The discussions at the moment are revolving around a rapidly changing landscape in which neither Iris, nor Xero actually have an end to end Cloud based solution and the same goes for Clear Books however, like the other two, and particularly Xero, it is expanding it's range of services, from Cloud bookkeeping to accountants' services (accounts, tax, practice management etc) with the development of its "Pro" offerings. 

This was announced with it's share offer to users a few weeks back with more details in the share offer document (it's also got pictures in it!)

 

Thanks (0)
avatar
By tolland
21st Oct 2013 15:35

Experience as a customer with FreeAgent

My recent experience of FreeAgent as a customer has been spiralling downwards from "below acceptable" to "poor".

The platform appears to have stagnated, and new features rollout effort has either tailed off, or is being spent elsewhere than the customer facing experience.

The customer service support is not very good either, and would have been enough to abandon ship, however I expect that they are making more money from accountancy partnerships than making the pure online product better.

Unfortunately the other UK based online accounting firms also have severe limitations. Kashflow lacked (at the time of writing) OFX or bank feeds.

 

Hopefully this will trigger a revitalization of these offerings, and there will be a genuine UK based online accountancy platform. Otherwise, as seems to be the case, the market will be steamrollered by a well funded, better designed, customer focused system that comes from the US.

 

Thanks (0)
By chatman
21st Oct 2013 16:04

Why the US?

tolland wrote:
the market will be steamrollered by a well funded, better designed, customer focused system that comes from the US.

Not if Quickbooks is anything to go by.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By tolland
21st Oct 2013 16:51

Why the US?

chatman wrote:

Not if Quickbooks is anything to go by.

I've not tried Quickbooks online in over a year, but with the 30 days free trial, it seems like a good idea to test it right now.

I think both Intuit and Sage make a nice amount of money selling their desktop and back-end apps, and have the nicely integrated with the various 3rd party systems. I don't think they are in any rush to initiate a radical shake-up of their own sales channels, customer support and infrastructure required to compete in the low-to-mid end online market. The kind of gently-gently, baby steps approach is just not dynamic enough.

Hence the interesting features are being developed by integrators and small outfits trying to gain market share. (I strongly suspect freeAgents "smart dividend" feature was unpopular with the accountancy partners because it's something that is seen as part of the accountants "value-add", and hence is unlikely to turn up in a Sage online, or Quickbooks online, in such as convenient fashion)

Thanks (0)
By chatman
21st Oct 2013 16:58

I wish clients would do their own dividend documentation

tolland wrote:
I strongly suspect freeAgents "smart dividend" feature was unpopular with the accountancy partners because it's something that is seen as part of the accountants "value-add"

Most of my clients would not pay for dividend documentation, and lose the templates I send them, so I end up doing it for free. I would love them to be able to do them themselves.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By tolland
21st Oct 2013 17:22

Smart dividends

chatman wrote:

tolland wrote:
I strongly suspect freeAgents "smart dividend" feature was unpopular with the accountancy partners because it's something that is seen as part of the accountants "value-add"

Most of my clients would not pay for dividend documentation, and lose the templates I send them, so I end up doing it for free. I would love them to be able to do them themselves.

I thought it was an excellent feature, and you can use it, or choose not to use it as appropriate.

But that innovative feature was a long time ago, and I don't see much like it coming along. I am particularly miffed at how free agent is relatively poor at categorizing imports... for example it doesn't even seem to recognize it's own direct debits... ;-)

 

 

 

Thanks (0)
avatar
By tolland
21st Oct 2013 17:36

I wish clients would do their own dividend documentation

chatman wrote:

tolland wrote:
I strongly suspect freeAgents "smart dividend" feature was unpopular with the accountancy partners because it's something that is seen as part of the accountants "value-add"

Most of my clients would not pay for dividend documentation, and lose the templates I send them, so I end up doing it for free. I would love them to be able to do them themselves.

So from a customer point of view, dividends are confusing, how they arise, how they should be triggered, and how they should be recorded is not obvious to the lay person.

I suspect that your customers "lose the templates" you send to them, precisely because they don't understand how to fill them in.

Hence when you say "I end up doing it for free.", what the customer is thinking is... "That's what I pay the accountant to do for me...", i.e. the confusing bits.

Thanks (0)
By chatman
21st Oct 2013 18:00

@tolland

tolland wrote:
I suspect that your customers "lose the templates" you send to them, precisely because they don't understand how to fill them in.

Hence when you say "I end up doing it for free.", what the customer is thinking is... "That's what I pay the accountant to do for me...", i.e. the confusing bits

Yes, that is what happens. Sorry, I thought I had made it clear.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By tolland
21st Oct 2013 18:50

That's what I pay the accountant to do for me...

chatman wrote:

tolland wrote:
I suspect that your customers "lose the templates" you send to them, precisely because they don't understand how to fill them in.

Hence when you say "I end up doing it for free.", what the customer is thinking is... "That's what I pay the accountant to do for me...", i.e. the confusing bits

Yes, that is what happens. Sorry, I thought I had made it clear.

well, once you have eliminated, by automation, all of those value-adds, then there is little point in having an accountant at all in the simple case.

Hence my original comment, about bricks and mortar accountants not favouring features that support radical automation and integration, because it would cannibalise their value proposition.

 

 

Thanks (0)
avatar
21st Oct 2013 16:31

Experience with FreeAgent

@tolland I'm sorry to hear you've had a poor experience with us at FreeAgent, especially since that's really unusual for us.

We're working very hard behind the scenes but that work does not always go into visible improvements. Having said that so far this year we've launched a fully integrated RTI-compliant payroll, bank feeds, online invoice payments and the Monday Motivator, among many other smaller improvements.

A big change to FreeAgent's capabilities is on its way and we've chosen not to publicly share the work-in-progress this time round. The plan is for all to be revealed before Christmas.

Maybe you could contact me directly ([email protected]) - I'd really like to get to the bottom of your concerns especially around our Customer Support which we pride ourselves on.

Ed Molyneux, FreeAgent Founder and CEO

Thanks (1)
21st Oct 2013 16:26

tolland

Whilst I'm "only" an accountant I am also a customer and, having had need of FA's support over the past year, I've not noticed any drop off, in fact, I've always found them excellent.

As far as suggestions & enhancements are concerned, do you use their Community site or keep an eye on the "Depot" for enhancements and plans for the future?  The provision of a compliant RTI payroll system, within the offering, was, for my clients, a great addition and I'm sure took huge effort on their part.

Perhaps as victims of their own success they can now not react as quickly to 30,000 users as they could 10,000 a few years back but they do have to still listen to the majority, which is what the Community pages are for.

Out of interest, which system from the US, are you referring to?

Thanks (0)
avatar
By tolland
21st Oct 2013 17:40

Out of interest, which system from the US, are you referring to?

Paul Scholes wrote:

Out of interest, which system from the US, are you referring to?

I was referring to the notion that the US seems to be a better place to raise cash, to gain market share, and to innovate... as a general case for online professional and technical applications delivered as a SAAS. 

If you were hoping to point out that Xero are a New Zealand based company, then touche, I only realised that when googling for their funding announcement. They raised 123 of the 150 million from US investors

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks (0)
22nd Oct 2013 16:35

They are not my dividends

I have always got clients to calculate and do their own dividends and paperwork, it's one of the most important aspects of running a Ltd Company, and they need to understand it (only takes an average of 20 minutes to impart this).

If a client uses software then, by knocking off 20% C Tax (or using FAC which calculates it) they can see profits available.  If they use spreadsheets, I let them have one that accumulates P&L month by months & year by year, again, to give them a good idea of the dividend pot.

Then, in the past, they have used word templates for the minute & vouchers and because they have left school and are now grown ups, 90% of the time there is no problem and, in 10% of the time they ask me to double check what they have done.

This leaves me to get on with more important and valuable work for them, so yes, I'm still needed.

I don't find the dividend paperwork provided by FAC suitable for a company with > 1 shareholder but at least it can be used as a prompt to prepare correct docs.

PS: Tolland I genuinely didn't know what you meant by your ref to the US.

 

Thanks (0)
By chatman
22nd Oct 2013 16:45

Clients and dividend docs

Paul Scholes wrote:
they have left school and are now grown ups

I wish mine were like that. Maybe I have just brought them up badly.

Thanks (1)
22nd Oct 2013 21:44

Left school and grown up

I wish my clients were as proficient as yours, Paul, but I am in the Chatman camp.

I had a visit from a new client yesterday and I talked him through a template listing sales invoices, bank receipts in, bank payments out and business expenses paid personally. I emailed him the template but today I got an email from him saying: "Just updating all the things we talked about yesterday, could you just very quickly remind me what goes in the invoices, receipts, bank payments and expenses columns as confusing myself now". This is a guy who comes across very well when you talk to him. He had his own business several years ago but this is the first time he's traded through a limited company.

Thanks (1)
avatar
By Old Greying Accountant
22nd Oct 2013 21:36

Still waiting ...

... for a respose to an e-mail to Openbooks Support since Thursday!

Thanks (1)
23rd Oct 2013 16:14

Doesn't surprise me

Old Greying Accountant wrote:

... for a respose to an e-mail to Openbooks Support since Thursday!

 

I would've thought that'll be a growing trend given the news...

Thanks (0)
23rd Oct 2013 11:27

My clients are average - honest

I still have one couple who forget about the divs (the div recorded to him is sometimes different to hers) but it's only really happened since one took over the books from the other and they are on FreeAgent so I scan it once a month anyway.  This is one of the tangible benes of Cloud stuff, you can't put a price on.

Like Peter above, I too have new clients who need a lot of hand holding in the early days over the bookkeeping but, ironically, I think many are just not used to spreadsheets rather than not understanding the principles, so I dare say would find it a lot simpler if I started up some paper books.  Also, this may be obvious, but when I send them the tailored spreadsheets, I include sample pages with typical entries that they will come across plus notes on each and in column headings, anything to encourage them to learn for themselves rather than rely on me.

And, if I ever end up with what I call a toilet paper client (the one who calls you from Sainsburys to ask you what colour toilet paper they should buy) then, I give it so long before suggesting they find someone else.

Again though I'm not now providing any spreadsheets, all new clients will use the Cloud or can look for someone else.  Clear Books & Xero have their "Lite" or "Cashbook" offerings, plus FA is simple anyway, and it's a lot easier to hand hold online than it is on land.

 

Thanks (0)
23rd Oct 2013 12:49

1%

It seems that i am always in the 1%!

I remember a client of mine who would send a standard letter out about 10 times a month saying that in 20 years in business this is the first complaint he has ever had.

Thanks (0)
23rd Oct 2013 12:57

Trying to make it foolproof fails because fools are too clever

"I include sample pages with typical entries that they will come across plus notes on each and in column headings, anything to encourage them to learn for themselves rather than rely on me."

I wouldn't be surprised if some clients included the "typical entries" in the data they send you.

I have a new client who is earning £150k per year as a contractor doing management consultancy work. I gave her my templates - I'd changed "Bank Receipts" and "Bank Payments" to "Bank In" and "Bank Out" because it was confusing some clients - and she completed them and all the transactions in the "Bank In" sheet were payments and all the transactions in the "Bank Out" sheet were receipts.

 

Thanks (1)
avatar
By Old Greying Accountant
23rd Oct 2013 16:55

I know ...

... the principals and the processes for changing the oil in my car, for changing a tap, taking a readiator off the wall, laying a patio and much more besides - I just can't be arsed, so I pay people who can do it quicker, better and easier than me, and who enjoy doing it. Many many clients feel the same about book-keeping!

I have had a reply now following a terse chaser!

Thanks (0)
By redman7
23rd Oct 2013 17:26

don't email Iris

Don't email Iris

Email FreeAgent direct

The difference in customer support between the two is VAST

RM

 

Thanks (0)