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The capacity transformation: Super speed and flexibility

4th Jun 2024
Brought to you by
sliverfin

Cloud software with live client files, connected workpapers and AI you can trust.

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Have you found this content useful? Use the button above to save it to your profile.

In the first part of this whitepaper The call to adventure – Understanding the capacity challenges ahead, we established what’s at stake and why it’s time to transform your accounting firm’s approach to talent and people into a future-proof powerhouse. Now, let’s delve into how cloud-based software, artificial intelligence (AI), and standardised templates and workflows can endow your teams with the power to help both them and your firm in navigating today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.

How? By using the people benefits of technology as the kryptonite to the capacity crunch!

flinder case study
Silverfin

Download the complete Tackling the capacity crunch in accountancy whitepaper now.

Super speed and flexibility

By introducing cloud-based accounting software within your firm, you make it possible for your teams to access, share and work together on the same data effectively and securely. The move to the cloud endows them with super speed and super flexibility, creating various benefits for them:

> Enhanced work-life balance

Cloud-based software keeps your team and data connected wherever and whenever they work. This enables your firm to implement hybrid working and flexible working policies to help them mitigate deadline peaks, obtain a greater work-life balance and avoid burnout.

> Productivity and engagement

By automating mundane processes, cloud-based software helps release the shackles of repetitive tasks. Not only does this boost their productivity, it also helps reduce the risk of errors that stem from fatigue.

> Greater job satisfaction

As your people spend much less time on repetitive chores, they can redirect their focus and energy towards more value-added activities, such as analysis and advice. This leads to more meaningful and exciting job content and careers at your firm, reducing the risk of burnout.

> Global collaboration

Cloud-based accounting software also seamlessly connects accountants from different countries, each with their own tax deadlines and busy seasons. This helps your firm alleviate deadline pressures and ensure timely, accurate deliverables – all while fostering an inclusive work environment.

Furthermore, the cloud also has benefits in store for your employer brand, talent development, and staffing and recruiting processes.

In an era where talent is scarce and competition fierce, modernising your technology stack:

  • makes your firm appealing to a more tech-savvy generation of accountants, who are less tolerant of archaic systems and methods.
  • signals your commitment to innovation and progress, which avoids the risk of only attracting and retaining change-aversive staff.

The Silverfin touch: Faster as one team in the cloud

“Silverfin lets us work effectively as one big team in the cloud and do many more jobs which would previously have taken weeks using laborious handwritten schedules.” Mark Thurston, Director at Gascoynes

 

Case study: flinder

“At flinder, we’re not looking for number crunchers, but for storytellers” Alastair Barlow, CEO and co-founder of flinder

Breaking away from the conventional, flinder is not your average accounting business. Co-founded by Alastair Barlow, the London-based company and its 40-strong team are rewriting the plot for what accounting talent will look like in the future – and how to find it.

After 16 years at consultancy firm PwC, Alastair Barlow founded flinder in 2017. Based in London, this multi-award-winning accounting, consulting and data analytics business is a pioneer of smart finance functions to accelerate the growth of tech, SaaS and e-commerce businesses.

USING TECHNOLOGY AS A TRIPLE ENABLER

As flinder scaled, the company onboarded Silverfin in 2019 to help the team maintain accuracy and standardisation. Alastair: “We view technology as an enabler in three areas: control, transactional efficiency and delivering insight. Based on our feedback, Silverfin adapted its platform to our needs to help us achieve those goals.”

“This enabled us to create a standard process to produce high-quality working papers quicker and more accurately than ever before, allowing us to maintain strong governance and provide a first-class client experience”, Alastair adds. “Today, Silverfin has become embedded as a key piece of technology within our processes at flinder.”

But there’s more to the story than just the practical and technical benefits. Alastair and his team also strongly believe in the ‘people benefits’ of technology.

LESS TIME ON PREPARATION, MORE ON INTERPRETATION

“As human beings,” Alastair continues, “we can only tap into so much creativity – let’s call it ‘thinking juice’ – every day. So, the less our people need to think about routine processes, the better! By automating routine processes, technology like Silverfin’s software allows our team to let their ‘thinking juice’ flow towards the creative part where it’s needed most and adds more value to client conversations.”

“Ultimately, it boils down to spending less time on preparation and more time on interpretation. For instance, you can use technology to be more efficient by connecting data across different systems, enabling reconciliations or identifying trends and correlations, which the human being can then pick up on and add context to.”

"Technology – like Silverfin’s – can help accountants create efficiency and control around preparation, while maximising their availability for interpretation and storytelling.” Alastair Barlow, CEO and co-founder of flinder

ATTRACTING A FUTURE-PROOF GENERATION OF ACCOUNTANTS

This mindset has also proven fruitful for flinder in getting the right people on board to back the company’s ambitions. “The way we use technology is attractive to the talent we want to attract”, says Alastair. “The new generation of accountants very much has an appetite for it. Of course, there’s always a proportion of the talent who maybe aren’t embracing change as much and, therefore, might be put off by our brand. But frankly, they’ll be dinosaurs at some point and become extinct.”

“The star talents of the future in accountancy are the ones who are willing to adapt to change, augment and embrace it”, Alastair adds. “And if you think about it: that’s the way it’s always been. Today, AI is stirring up things and changing the way we look at our skills and talents. Before that, it was cloud computing. And before that, we went from writing on cashbooks, ledgers, debits and credits to using spreadsheets. The key, talent-related question to ask amidst the change is the same now as it was then: How can I use the newly available tools, technologies and methods to deliver value?”

“The way we use technology is attractive to the talent we want to attract.” Alastair Barlow, CEO and co-founder of flinder

CHALLENGING THE STATUS QUO KNOWS NO AGE

This new generation of accountants is not necessarily the same as the younger generation. Alastair: “We have people of all sorts of ages at flinder, but they’re all working in the same direction. What they have in common is an eagerness to challenge the status quo and use technology as an enabler for that.”

“That’s also something we purposely look for in people, Alastair adds. “We ask them to challenge us on how we’re working on processes, how we’re using technology, which types of clients we’re working for, and so on. Meanwhile, we also make sure to give them the opportunity to develop their digital savviness and business acumen as well as their interpersonal and professional skills.”

NOT IN THE BUSINESS OF NUMBERS

Nurturing accountancy talent in such a way is not just beneficial for their futures, but also for the company’s future, and even the industry’s. Alastair: “The biggest existential risk in our profession would be if a major data powerhouse like Google or Amazon stepped in and disrupted the accountancy market entirely. That’s why I tell our people: ‘At flinder, we’re not in the business of numbers; we’re in the business of telling the story behind and beyond the data to help all facets of our clients’ businesses grow.’ It’s the best strategy to safeguard our company from a data-driven disruption.”

“But you can’t achieve that with someone who’s just a number cruncher”, Alastair concludes. “Instead, you need to attract and retain talent that’s willing to develop into relationship-building, advice-giving storytellers. Technology – such as cloud-based accounting platforms and AI tools like Silverfin’s – can help people grow in that direction by creating efficiency and control around the preparation side of their work, while maximising the available time and mental space for intepretation and storytelling."

 

Ready to transform your accounting firm? Book a demo today with Silverfin and explore the powerful benefits of AI in accounting.