Practice Insight: Fahad Lateef from Legend Financial
We recently had a chat with Fahad Lateef from Legend Financial, a small firm of accountants and tax advisers with offices in London, Milton Keynes and Manchester.
The firm provides all sorts of taxation and accountancy services and because they were primarily working with contractors, it was affected by IR35. However, thanks to this experience, the team knows how to adapt and face any adversities.
Legend Financial now works primarily with clients in the construction industry and British landlords who are not regular in the UK, as well as private security and e-commerce companies.
Although COVID-19 has forced the firm to reshape how they work, working from home did not affect them that much because since day one, back when the firm started in 2012, it has always been cloud-based and paper-free.
“Based on my previous experience with big corporates, I learned how important it is to be paperless,” said Fahad. “Most of our clients are using cloud technology and we use a central server based in London so we had the least possible interruption.”
“The only struggle we were having was due to landlines because they were all in physical offices and we were struggling to have access. We were using mobile apps but they were not that good. So we got Circleloop integrated with Senta and that filled the gap. Now we can literally make phone calls from the browser,” he said.
“So in terms of working remotely, we were almost ready to go. Even without COVID-19, one or two days a week almost everybody was working from home, so we were quite used to it.”
What COVID-19 has changed
“We had to upskill our employees for client-facing roles. There has been, I’d say a 300% volume increase in the calls and messages, it's all tripled. The people who would never contact us in the whole year started contacting us. The communication was almost overwhelming. It was challenging, and it is still challenging, but it's getting flattened gradually.
I remember the days when the announcements were being made for exporting small businesses. We were sitting right in front of the television, having our PowerPoint presentation ready, and just typing the notes and bullet points of what the Chancellor was saying because soon after the press conference was finished, we knew clients would start calling us even if it was seven o'clock in the evening.
We took a proactive approach and started sending them emails of those presentations in the form of emails, text messages, or through social media.
It was overwhelming, but now it's gradually coming under control and people is gradually understanding that everything was new for everyone, even us as accountants. Even we have to go through all those lengthy guidance, we have to absorb it and understand it ourselves before we can get that to the clients.
Sometimes they wouldn’t give us enough time. I remember a story with one of my clients who is self-employed. I had just updated my status on social media saying remember tomorrow at five o'clock they will be news from for the self-employed and at five o'clock he started asking about it.
So I had to say that, yes, there will be an update, but I need to listen, understand and absorb and then I will communicate it. So it was a very hard time.
Starting with a practice management solution
I love Senta, I used it since the start of 2017 so it's almost three and a half years since I've been using it. That's one of the key tools we use because everybody knows where they are and what they have to do for the rest of the day.
Senta is integral in our day to day work and for managing the workflows, emails and text messages. If Senta goes down for a second, it could be an internet problem, but everybody starts texting and sending messages asking what happened. It's that important to our day to day life in the workplace.
I tried a lot of different software solutions using their free trials. For almost two years, I was trying different ones and I started to use another one before Senta, but while I was using it, I was still searching for something better. When I came across Senta, I had never even heard about it.
I suddenly found it on my Facebook as a sponsored ad, because that's probably based on my day to day search, and I was most of the time searching for a more appropriate workflow management tool where we could manage our clients, including the prospects and active ones.
So it came up on my Facebook feed and then I went to the website. I had a demo, and they answered everything I was looking for. I then went for a month trial because it was too amazing for me to believe. And since then we are on Senta and, I've hardly used 50% of the features because every single month they introduce new ones!
Senta was good enough for us to get started. The only thing which I initially didn't like was the number of tasks when we use the default workflows, but I could customize it completely. The best feature in Senta is that I can modify it, I can configure it, customize it however we like.
Sometimes I get a request from my team and I've always been able to make changes. So far, I haven't ever been let down. We had to configure it as per our needs. And that's one of the best things Senta can do. We can play with it however we like to.
Emails and text messages
We are on Office 365 we ever even do use Outlook Microsoft Outlook, but we are definitely using Senta to communicate. It gives me confidence that I can let even the new joiner play with the emails and let them send emails through Senta.
I'm confident it's not going directly to the client, it will be stuck on my Senta outbox, which is a feature I love. I can just approve them at the time I think the client will be more responsive. And if I needed to make any amendments, obviously I can do that.
We use a lot of text messages from Senta, which is great for our brand because they go out with our name. We don’t use Senta to send newsletters yet but that's what we want to do next.