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The horrible bits of being an accountant – solved

16th Mar 2023
Brought to you by
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Award winning CRM & practice management software

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Dan Styles has run his one-man practice for around 10 years. And for five of those, AccountancyManager and BrightPay have powered things behind the scenes. Check out Dan’s BrightPay case study – or read on for his review of AccountancyManager. 

Dan’s soap opera entry into accountancy  

Not only did Dan’s dad (an accountant himself) warn him not to go into accountancy, Dan’s first employer was a guy his dad made redundant. “That was an interesting interview!” Dan recalls.  

“After fourteen years working in practice, I set up Lifestyles Accountancy on my own – it's difficult when you work for somebody to help people as much as I wanted to, because you've got to charge for time.” 

“I decided from day one that at my practice, every client would get the same level of service – regardless of how much they pay me. And they can have as many calls, emails, meetings as they want, it's all included. That's the one line in a quote that converts nine times out of 10!” 

When using spreadsheets gets ridiculous  

Like most new practices, Dan started off by tracking everything in spreadsheets. “Initially I didn't have a huge amount of clients, so it was very easy to monitor. Print 'em off, put it on a pin board, tick it off as you go.” 

“As I grew – quite quickly – I needed something because it was getting ridiculous and unmanageable, it was very easy for something to slip off.” 

“I'd used Iris in the past and I'd used CCH, both of which were clunky, a bit overkill for what I needed, only solved one out of about four different problems and were expensive by comparison to something like AccountancyManager.” 

“Accountants usually have seven different pieces of software to do seven different tasks. So my assumption was if I can get at least my deadlines sorted, then I’d tackle things like e-sign and a document portal later. But it all came as one package – and the money laundering side of stuff too? Massive pluses.” 

Onboarding – from headache to ‘genuine doddle’   

One unexpected problem Dan solved with AccountancyManager was onboarding. Dan had thought endless letters of engagement and chasing signatures was simply part of his punishment for becoming an accountant. 

“The struggles we have signing clients up and doing all the paperwork is just that it's dull! Nobody likes doing it. Engagement letters, getting clients to sign stuff and put it back in the post is a headache that I'm fed up with.” 

AccountancyManager has resolved more than what I was hoping to achieve.”  

“In AccountancyManager, once you've set your templates up for engagement letters, clients can e-sign them as they onboard, without me having to print it off, sign it and all that sort of stuff. It's a genuine doddle.” 

The automated task list – replacing all spreadsheets 

When you agree the services you’ll be supplying your client, turning them ‘on’ in AccountancyManager populates the right letter of engagement – and tells the system you need those deadlines generated. 

“You set your date ranges up for all the different services that you’ve agreed to with your client, then all your deadlines just come up in date order and you can hide the ones that aren't available yet to be done.”  

There's not much more – in terms of efficiency – that anybody could dream up. Well, I couldn't.” 

“So, if you've got a Year End of October – that won't appear on my task list until we reach the 1st of November, which is perfect.”  

“It downloads information from Companies House too, so I type the client in and it pulls the director's details through. It saves typing it all in. We now have integrations with FreeAgent and Xero so it just pulls the information through.” 

The client portal – chalk and cheese compared to the ‘old way’  

Instead of sending documents for signing through the post or over unsecured email, Dan uses the client portal for instant e-signatures. 

“The ability for a client to e-sign – then I'm notified when it's signed – is like the difference between chalk and cheese compared to how I used to do it.” 

 “They don't have to send me emails with personal information which isn’t the most secure method. They get an email, set a password, and then I’ll say – ‘you can fill in all your details on there and we'll take it from there’.”  

Completing a job – from drag… to drag n’ drop  

Dan loves the feeling of finishing a job, but not all the admin faff that follows it. Thanks to AccountancyManager, he can enjoy that bubble of satisfaction for far longer.  

“The feature that absolutely makes a killer of a difference is the ‘completion of a job’ – if I can label it that.”  

“This sounds quite sad, but I thoroughly enjoy doing a set of accounts from start to end. When you’re finished and happy with it, that's the moment of most satisfaction. But then you've got the daunting task of explaining it to the client, getting them to sign it and all this admin faff just pops the bubble!” 

“Now I don't have to manually do it at all. Getting a client to see and sign it is literally a drag-and-drop job. That's probably one of the more valuable elements just because that's the horrible part of the job.” 

Keep everything in your head – or automate it all 

“One of the really helpful things,” Dan tells us, “is that once you’ve popped a piece of work onto the portal, the client will automatically get an email with a link to log in. It prepopulates an email that I've already set up in the background to say what I want it to say – and it just gets sent.  

It means I don't have to constantly have in my mind who I've not heard back from yet.” 

If it's not signed within the timeframe I've set up, it fires off reminder emails. I don't have to worry about it, and that's really helpful.”  

The biggest plus? Working anywhere and everywhere  

Asked if he had any more to add, Dan certainly did. Notably, accessing everything online, a clutter-free interface and how ‘ready-to-go’ AccountancyManager is. Take it away, Dan. 

“The absolute key behind it is – I've got all my data in one place. The most important part that swayed it in terms of practice management software was that it was online.” 

If I'm out and about, on my phone, I can check AccountancyManager – that was a massive plus, absolutely colossal.” 

“That opens up a world of not being stuck at your desk in front of the one computer everything's stored on. You can do stuff on the fly – that's massively important and that was the biggest plus.”  

Clever, clean and clutter-free 

“AccountancyManager is incredibly clean. Historically if you look at Sage 50 etc, it might do the job but it’s cluttered, you have to press so many different things to get the result you want. Iris was the same, CCH is the same… really clever pieces of kit, but they’re messy and there’s a big learning curve to using them.” 

I like that AccountancyManager’s not cluttered so it's easy to navigate and clean.” 

“With AccountancyManager I can genuinely, hand-on-heart say, from the second you log in, it’s fairly self-explanatory. It doesn't put more stuff in than is necessary. I really like that.” 

Ready to go ‘out of the box’ 

“I've done a few bits of customisation in terms of the content of the engagement letters. But as a general rule, a lot of the defaults are highly appropriate to what I want them to do. It’s one of those packages where you don't spend a lot of time getting everything set up to use it properly.” 

I genuinely cannot fault it and I've got friends who are fed up with deadline lists and spreadsheets… just make the decision and have a go!”  

“It really was a transformational product from where I was to where I'm at now. It didn't just solve the problems I needed to solve, it solved problems that I didn't think I had.” 

Transform your practice with Bright 

AccountancyManager and BrightPay are just two systems – designed for accountants in practice – in the Bright family.