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Practice insight: Isobel Chaplin from IJC Finance

14th Aug 2020
Brought to you by
senta
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Isobel Chaplin started her career in sales ledger for a large national company and has also worked as a finance manager for an international group.

Now she is the director and owner of IJC Finance, where she provides accounting services for small and microbusinesses in Essex.

picture of isobel

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The last few months

“I went self-employed in October-November time and I've been working from home since then. I was in a big corporate office before that so my transition to working from home was a little bit earlier than everyone else's! It's nice not to have to be rushing around in the morning.

For a couple of months, I had to work from home with my five-year-old who went back to school in June. Personally, I found it really stressful and difficult. I ended up working quite a lot in the evenings. I suppose it's more flexible when you work for yourself, though.

Communication has changed since the beginning of the lockdown. I've been having a lot of phone calls with people. I suppose because although I would have initial meetings with people and we would meet up face-to-face from time to time, quite a lot of what I do can be done remotely anyway. I don't think not being out to see people face to face has been a big hindrance, though obviously I think some people can't wait to meet up and have a coffee and chat!

Managing tasks

I started using Senta quite recently, in the last six weeks because I found during lockdown it suddenly got really busy, which is great. I was taking on a lot more clients and I realised that I was soon going to need something that wasn't just a spreadsheet to organise everything.

I knew I needed something in place to help me organise my working day, so I had a couple of trials of different software with Senta being one of them and I realised it was the one I got on with the best.

The main reason I started using Senta was to improve our client onboarding. When I had a new client it was taking me ages trying to pull together all the relevant paperwork - and I didn’t want to forget anything.  Now, when I have a new client, I am able to track that process quite nicely through Senta.

Building workflows

I quite enjoy using it – I'm a bit nerdy like that. I like trying to find new workflows and things. Most of it was just ready to go, but there have been a few things that I wanted to tweak. I added in some forms so I could record additional information in different tabs and customer profiles. I add things as I go and tweak things as I'm using it more. 

As part of the workflows I use, Senta will ask me to send an email to the client to ask them about their information – nice reminders for me where there might be things I haven't thought about before. Also, it's really useful to upload documents and know the client will receive a notification. And I know the documents will be secure in the Senta portal, rather than me emailing them and having to put lots of passwords on them.”