Welcome to Tech Talk, a monthly catch-up with an accountant in practice to find out the effect that technological changes have had on the industry over the years.
This month we spoke with Bharat Hathi, director at the Portsmouth-based practice BdH Chartered Certified Accountants.
Bharat, would you say you are tech-savvy or a technophobe?
I'm reasonably tech savvy. We adopt technology fairly quickly when it comes on stream, so when cloud accounting was first on the scene we decided to get into it straight away. We decided we would transfer all our clients from desktop accounting software to cloud based accounting software for the advantages that we could get like working from anywhere, cloud storage and backup and regular software updates so we wouldn't have to worry about anything like that.
When Thomson Reuters brought out the hosted version of their software we moved to it straight away because updating tax software is quite difficult and time consuming. By using the hosted version, we can access it anywhere. We also know the software is always updated and everything is always backed-up so it helps us follow good practices.
What’s the first piece of technology you interact with when you step inside your office?
Apart from my mobile phone, the first thing I do is to switch on Outlook, Microsoft Excel and my Digita practice manager. I check my emails, go through my daily work schedule and my to-do list and make sure I'm fully up to speed with my weekly work plan.
Can you tell me about the tech set up within your practice?
Everything is in the cloud, we use laptops, iPads and iPhones. We use cloud accountacy packages and Digita hosted solutions.
Our payroll is designed so that we don't print payslips anymore. Once the client has approved the payroll online, the employee gets the payslip over their mobile phones.
We try to make life easy for everybody and our clients really do enjoy having that real-time access to the information that we hold about them. They can access their tax returns, their accounts, any other documents we store, and the whole process is quite efficient.
How has the setup changed since you started out?
When I started in practice, like everybody else, we used desktop software and Excel. Now everything is in the cloud. We use less Excel and we automate. We also use Receipt Bank so our clients, rather than keep files and paper records, they will snap the document, which will feed into Receipt Bank and into our cloud software.
We use bank feeds so our clients’ income and expenditure is kept up to date every week. That way we can give our clients real-time information and they can then make better decisions to run their businesses.
What three considerations did you make when choosing the technology for your practice?
The most important factor is that it has to be cloud-based. The support has to be good. The price is also important, but I think it is worth paying a bit more as long as the support is there.
Do you have any favourite technology products at work and at home?
My Rocketbook, which I found out about at a recent Digita user conference. It's like a paper notebook but it lasts forever. I can make handwritten notes when I'm at client meetings and then I can use the app on my mobile phone to snap it and it automatically files my notes in the client folder, so I don't need to keep paper records – I'm virtually paper-free now.
Apart from that I also really like my mobile phone.
Is there a task that you prefer doing manually, instead of using tech?
Besides ringing clients on an old-fashioned phone, I do everything using technology.