Kings Lynn-based accountancy practice embrace technology change

8th Aug 2019
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Hayhow & Co. are a firm of Chartered Certified Accountants that have been established in the Norfolk market town and seaport of Kings Lynn since the 1920s. They serve a whole range of clients, from self-employed sole traders, partnerships, and large limited companies.

The team of ten staff are led by two partners. Julie Gladman joined Hayhow & Co. in 1985 and became managing partner in 1995. Kezia Benefer has worked for the firm since 2006, having been a qualified Chartered Certified Accountant since 2008, and a partner since 2016.

The partners constantly strive to find ways to improve efficiency and reduce costs in order to benefit their clients. They had a long-standing relationship with their previous software supplier, but this association was subject to review in Spring 2018. It was also a time they were looking to pre-empt some regulatory challenges on the horizon for the industry, which were likely to impact the way they worked.

“[our previous supplier] didn’t seem to be as up-to-date with their software around GDPR and Making Tax Digital, or as forward thinking when dealing with clients over the internet.”

Kezia continues:

“We had been with them for a long time, but we didn’t feel we were getting the support we needed and there was no information being distributed informing us of upcoming improvements, etc.”

Kezia then took a speculative call: “It just so happened that Thomson Reuters called and told us about Onvio, and their online portal”, Kezia recalls, “and this is what piqued my interest initially. They initiated a meeting online and everything they showed us was superior to anything we were using.”

But any decision to migrate elsewhere would inevitably affect several team members, so it was important that any move was viewed positively throughout the business. Kezia says: “Nobody likes change - but we involved the staff.”

“Thomson Reuters were very good. They first showed me a demo, then the staff – so they could see the product as it was important they knew what we were thinking of moving to. This is so they could help make the decision. Once they all saw it they were all more than happy.”

Talks started in June 2018 and Hayhow & Co. migrated across on 1 March 2019. The move was planned and team members trained first were first trained. “The training with Rattan was really good,” Kezia says. “He came and spent time with me to go through everything, so he could understand the firm, our staff and the clients. He tailored the system to our bespoke needs. He constantly spoke to the staff, and ensured they had received everything that they needed from him.”

“Lauren and Trudy from Welcome Services sent me a clear timetable with dates and what was going to happen,” she adds. “Because we started talking in June, we were able to make sure we were ready before our other software expired.”

“Thomson Reuters sent me the templates and I just needed to make sure our data was up-to-date, then they managed everything with our outsourced computer team and I didn’t have to do anything - that’s the best way! It all went really well.”

Now fully migrated, Kezia and her team have been using the new software for a few months, and they noticed one particular product to benefit them the most: “The accounts package – the part that generates the accounts - has enabled me to create a template for all the different businesses so I can standardise everything”, she says. “So that has made it much more uniformed to what the clients see.”

“And the interaction with Corporation Tax and Personal Tax has been brilliant because it feeds everything in. In fact I had a member of staff come to see me recently to say how fantastic this part of it was because he had to change some accounts – and he was dreading having to go back in to redo all the content. But he didn’t need to because you feed it through and the software does everything for you. So he was pleased with that.”

The Thomson Reuters UK-based customer support team has been able to assist with any initial queries during the change, both online and my phone: “The online customer support is fantastic and so far most of the issues have been shown on there,” she says. “I have been able to store the instructions onto our server so if anyone else has the same problem they can go to the server for help. And the instructions are really clear.”

“I have phoned the support office twice and they have been fantastic and we got it sorted straight away so I haven’t had any problems.”

The result for Hayhow & Co. is they’ve seen a more streamlined approach, made processes simpler and it’s reduced time spent doing certain tasks: “What has saved time is the Practice Management”, she insists. “We have been using the user-defined fields to remind us of confirmation statements and the authentication codes. This makes things so much easier as we can link this to the Corporation Tax when we go to file them in Companies House and everything is there. Before, the receptionist was having to contact whoever was managing the client before to find the information.”

Kezia adds: “I would definitely recommend Thomson Reuters – no hesitation. The implementation and carrying everything over went really well and it’s been brilliant!”

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