Tech Talk: Mark Broadhead from Broadhead Accountants
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.
Today we are joined by Mark Broadhead, Director of Broadhead Accountants, a practice in Hammersmith, London. Mark qualified in New Zealand, where he did three years in practice before he moved to the UK, where he’s been working as an accountant for 15 years. He reveals how he has improved the workflow across his practice over the years, as well as the ever-popular drive towards achieving a paperless office.
Mark, thanks for speaking with us, how has the technology you use in your firm changed since you started out?
When I started 20 years ago approximately half the office space was used in file storage. Now we have a couple of bundles of paper around the office (usually on my desk, the boss not setting the perfect example!).
We used a ledger package to process cashbooks and this was very time consuming. Now we often have cashbooks processed in Xero or use a CSV to save manual data entry. We now commit to software on a monthly basis but commit with data inflow as well as money.
There was a fax machine in my first office and lots of mail in and out. We would charge clients for each item of cost like a fax or a mail item outwards. I think the cost of recording all this outweighed the benefit.
We would have daily workflow meetings in the office to allocate work. Now this process is more perpetual and online.
Can you tell us more about the tech set up within your practice?
For our filing and accounts production software we use Digita by Thomson Reuters. Our clients typically either use Microsoft Excel or cloud-based accounting software like Xero.
We manage our workflow allocating work to team members via Digita. We provide clients fixed fees so do not track time-and-costs.
We are virtually paperless. This being noted we receive bundles of mail from government departments. These items are scanned immediately and the originals securely destroyed. Electronic versions of correspondence are always easier to find and ready for sharing with clients.
What three considerations did you make when choosing the technology for your practice?
Support, cost and longevity. We consider whether the product is okay and if it’s being activity developed.
What are your favourite technology products at work and at home and why?
The cloud is brilliant (how we can share information with clients and not need to worry about who backs this up).
I like the scanner and how we can control our information storage rather than store bundles of paper. At home I enjoy music streaming and how I can enjoy thousands of songs without needing to commit to ownership / storage.
Are there any everyday accountancy problems you think could be solved with technology in the future?
I think we will go from daily bank-feeds into software to live feeds with automatic coding.
Can you tell me about a recent project or process that you made better, faster, smarter or more efficient?
I would highlight the transferability of data and how accessible the bank statements now are. Prior to the internet awaiting actual mail was a pain.
If you liked this piece, why not find out what Freddie Faure has to say about the tech set up within hugely successful practice CooperFaure. She discusses what it took to become 100% cloud based and the questions she asks herself before buying any new software, read here.
Want more practical insight from leading tech-first accountants? Watch the on-demand accounting excellence webinar sponsored by Thomson Reuters.