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Practice insight: Isobel Chaplin from IJC Finance

14th Aug 2020
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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


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.”