Case study - How Atkinson Accounts uses Countingup with clients

17th Apr 2020
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Atkinson Accounts is a small accountancy practice based in Chester, with ten employees, offering small-businesses, micro-businesses and start-ups a friendly, personalised one-stop-shop service.

“We love working with business owners,” says founder Paul Atkinson, “as we understand how important a small business is to the owners. We empathise with each client as they experience the various ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ undergone by many small enterprises. We hope that, with our experience and technical knowledge in various fields, we are able to assist them in some small way.”     

It was this focus on close engagement with small business clients that first attracted Atkinson Accounts to Countingup; the UK’s number one small business banking and accounting app.

“We first heard about Countingup when we saw their marketing material at the Accountex show and met the Countingup representatives,” said Atkinson. “The messaging, both written and verbal, was based around providing reassurance to micro-businesses and tradespeople about keeping accounting records. It was saying ‘don’t worry about it; it is really simple; and we can help you with it’.  It matched our own approach.”

The more immediate appeal was the simplicity of Countingup’s client onboarding process compared to the frustrations experienced by Atkinson Accounts (and their clients) with other banks. As Atkinson explains: “We previously told prospective clients that the simple part is to get them set them up in business; register them with HMRC; offer appropriate tax planning; advise on accounting records; and get the company formed. However, the hardest task remaining was the client having to go and get a bank account. We can now advise how easy it is to set up a bank account if they choose Countingup.

“A further reason for Atkinson Accounts liking Countingup is that we see other emerging banks that are still trying to tie up clients with, often inappropriate, accounting software solutions while the bigger High Street banks are often an administrative nightmare, with small companies sometimes waiting weeks on end just to get a debit card. Countingup is the only option we have come across in business banking that has a really strong emphasis on the smallest firms and start-ups. When we heard about their emphasis on micro-businesses, we immediately thought that they offered the potential to be a great solution for many of our clients.”     

Today, Atkinson Accounts has around 700 clients in all, ranging from small construction businesses to IT consultants. As well as some larger clients, it has many clients with annual turnovers ranging between £10,000 and £250,000. It estimates that around 50% of these would be suited to working with the Countingup app.

“Most micro-business accounting is simply monetary transactions, and typically, 99% of their transactions go through their bank account,” adds Atkinson. “There may be some adjustments needed at the end of the year but clients do not need all the complication, heartache and extra work created, by having to wrestle with a completely separate accounting software package.”

Countingup understands this too and shares this philosophy. Like Atkinson Accounts, it understands that micro-businesses will need some accounting features added into the mix. By adding accounting sales invoicing, expense capture and automated transaction categorisation, Countingup not only redefines what a business current account is but also provides everything a start-up or very small firm might need to run their business.

Today, working with Countingup is helping Atkinson Accounts move more clients away from traditional manual and paper-based modes of bookkeeping towards a digital approach.  That in turn helps the practice save time and money by streamlining the client information onboarding process, as well as helping eliminate the problems around incomplete records. This ensures that the annual accounts or VAT can be dealt with in a more efficient way.

“We simply ask clients that, rather than bringing us paper statements or sending us a pdf, they just download a bank statement (CSV); sales invoices report; and bills report, from their Countingup app. We can work on these records and ensure that the client is getting the best tax advice; is up to date with statutory filings and is Making Tax Digital compliant,” adds Atkinson.   

This is a new approach for many of Atkinson Accounts’ clients and it won’t be suited to everyone. “We explain to the clients the benefits of working this way,” Atkinson continues. “However, some do remain fearful of online banking and want to do everything with cheques. Others who have been using the bigger banks for online banking, have already bought into the digital approach and are therefore more easily convinced that a smaller more agile newcomer like Countingup, can come in and offer them a quicker, better service.”   

Perhaps the best illustration of the benefits of starting to work with Countingup is one particular anecdote Atkinson has to tell about the process of onboarding a new client. “I had one client who came in to see me. He had just come out of one business and started another one. He was sweating over the setting up process, the accounting and the administration required and whether he could run it all. I told him: ‘We will do the registrations with the relevant authorities and tax planning. You just go home, get this bank account sorted and start earning some money’ – I gave him the Countingup details. He came back later that day and said: ‘wow, that was easy’. He went away so pleased because he had seen larger organisations struggle with the set-up process and did not realise that if they opt for the right all-in-one business banking and accounting app, such as Countingup, micro-businesses needn’t have all that heartache.”

To find out more about Countingup, please click here.