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Early stage accounting software to watch in 2021

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Accounting industry snoop Richard Sergeant goes under the radar and investigates early-stage software gems. Here are his predictions for the ones to watch in 2021.

13th Jan 2021
Director Principle Point
Columnist
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Looking through some of the normal predictions for the ‘ones to watch’ hasn’t been very inspiring so far. Good companies doing good work, but nothing to get the juices going.

This time around I’m taking a more under the radar approach and picking up a few that are either in the early stages (even pre-launch). Or, they have a good minimum viable product (MVP) out there and could make the running through the year.

I think it’s worth giving all those launching or developing a product over the last twelve months a lot of credit. Although lockdown provides something of a ‘free pass’ when you're not expecting revenue, it’s still been a job to keep the lights on or secure funding. 

So here are my current early stage tech companies that accountants should keep an eye on.

Hindsight - reporting and data quality

An interesting hybrid of practice side reporting and quality assurance of client data. This interesting application comes from Jon Jenkins, former practice owner and serial tech entrepreneur. If you have ever read his LinkedIn posts or AccountingWEB contributions, you’ll know he has some forthright views on how tech needs to work more in favour of the accountant. 

Hindsight scans ledger data and reports based on ‘exception rather than the rules’, so is looking for inconsistencies rather than what is necessarily working well. 

A commercial launch later in the year should be welcomed. Hindsight is also an alumnus of our next one to watch...

Early Adopters Hub

Created by the excellently named Yohan Trougouboff, formerly of Capitalise and now residing in Australia, the Early Adopters Hub has a mission to connect “digital accountants with early stage startups”. In other words, to help fintechs who are developing with accountants in mind, get direct feedback from the profession at a stage when it could make all the difference. 

There’s nothing you can buy here, and little you can see as it’s a closed community and a controlled programme, but anything that launches after being through this should be one to watch. I’ve put it here as it reflects both a growing acceptance that the need for accountants to be thought about carefully, and as an interesting start-up in its own right. 

Joiin

Offering to make ‘consolidated financial reporting easy’, Joiin tackles one of the less glamorous aspects of the accountech world. It turns what can be a tricky pain-in-the-arse spreadsheet juggle into something much more sleek and efficient. It’s not very often I can stomach the trite ‘saves you time and money’ sales pitch, but for once I could believe this to be true. 

Being able to bring together data from Xero, Quickbooks, and Sage has some distinct advantages especially if the business is not quite ready to make the leap to a ledger system like AccountsIQ that specialises in this type of thing. Available to purchase now, it’s worth a look, and I suspect a little underpriced.

Tether

Creating a meaningful connection between business and personal finance is a very underserved opportunity for accountants, and perhaps especially meaningful given current conditions. Tether looks to remedy this by creating a compliant way to manage personal financial planning conversations with clients using both business and personal data.

Generating personal cashflow scenarios, planning and in time access to approved digital financial service product brokers – this is a tool that many will have been waiting for but never realised they needed. Launching mid-2021.

Converso

Payments is a big area when it comes to fintech, and along with the ledger activation of Xero or track and pay invoices in Receipt Bank, we’re not going to be short of options. However, Converso starts with the idea that modern businesses want to interact with customers in more natural ways. 

Building on a bank of research around interaction, responsiveness (and trust), their system allows businesses, say retailers, to use text and mobile technology to send invoices. Consumers can utilise their digital wallets (like Apple Pay and Google Pay) to make one-click payments. 

Given how little thought goes into some of the mobile experiences for payments, and just how disinterested younger generations are in email, this has intriguing potential. How do you like to pay? Is a question not enough providers ask. A bit of work to be done on their Xero integration I suspect, but this is symbolic of a further shift in how accountants, clients and their customers will have to interact.

Connect4

It’s good to talk, right? Well if most of your meetings these days are virtual, Andrew Jordan and the Connect4 team suggests that most of these could be better run and actions made more clearer. 

It’s a brave move to go into the video conferencing market in the height of a pandemic and to watch the world pump up the share price of Zoom. However, having a clear initial focus on accountants means that there are ways in which features can come into to their own, like agenda setting, the concept of ‘pods’, actions etc, and have plenty of potential. Early adopters onboarding now.

So,  I’ll save you the grand predictions, macro trends and arm-waving futurism, and just say- there are lots of good, practical, thoughtful and, dare I say, problem-solving solutions heading your way. Long may it continue.

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