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Practice Talk: Paul Lodder from Sagarsby
Each week, AccountingWEB’s Practice Talk series catches up with a different accountant in practice. This week we speak with Paul Lodder, a partner at Yorkshire-based firm Sagars who leads the firm's 27-strong cloud team.
Three years ago Lodder started to get involved with Sagars’ cloud offerings. At that point, the Big Four had started to flex its cloud credentials and approach their clients, and Sagars recognised that they needed to respond.
Eighteen months ago Lodder was made partner and now heads up the firm’s cloud and accounts teams. His time is now spent giving software demos to the clients and demonstrating the new features and benefits that the software offers.
Since then the firm has moved quickly. Sagar’s cloud readiness was showcased earlier this year when they claimed the auspicious feat of filing QuickBooks’ first MTD for VAT submission.
In this week’s Practice Talk, Lodder explains why accounting tech such as QuickBooks, Receipt Bank, and AutoEntry is so integral to life as an accountant in practice.
What's the first thing you do when you start your working day?
The first thing I always do is to check my emails, then check for updates from any of our software partners. There are often new client inquiries and I'll filter that to the team. I spend a lot of the time supporting the team and dealing with any queries that may have arisen and time on the strategy side.
There is not necessary client work; it's more team issues and checking emails and distributing those.
A common issue we've noticed is accountants in practice checking their emails outside the traditional working hours. Are you guilty of this too?
Emails are probably one of the worst things ever. They are constantly coming through. You've got to train yourself to switch off so you're not constantly checking them, and the volume I get through can be significant, too. You're always fighting against emails.
There is sometimes an expectation that if an email has been sent you have automatically read and you're dealing with it. But you've got to keep your clients happy and respond as quickly as possible.
What's been the biggest change in the profession since you qualified?
The profession is going through one of the biggest changes it will ever see. Training is going to change significantly. It will be interesting to see how the professional bodies deal with that because the tech does more and more and double entry becomes less relevant.
Gone are the days of us having to type stuff into Excel or using cashbooks. It is very much scan, upload and match. All I can see going forward is the technology doing more and more.
Being the head of cloud, the obvious question to ask is how cloud is your firm?
We use QuickBooks Online for our internal stuff. We've now moved our accounting working papers into the cloud using My Work Papers. All our clients are moving across to QBO or Xero and then we're using products like AutoEntry and Receipt Bank for the automation of purchase invoices.
We're Office365, which is cloud-based and we're looking at moving everything away from the server onto a cloud platform.
We may not be 100% cloud, but the intention will certainly be that we'll be heavily cloud-based, which will offer more flexibility for the team, millennials and graduates coming through. There is an expectation to have the ability to work at home and not necessarily sat in an office.
You sound like you're in a good position for MTD. What steps have you taken to be MTD-ready?
We went through every one of our clients to understand from a VAT perspective which was another reason to get clients onto a cloud platform.
We were also the first firm in the UK to do the QuickBooks MTD submission. We did that a couple of months ago so we know how that works and we're also working with Xero on MTD submissions. We are running monthly seminars jointly with QuickBooks, inviting clients, contacts or anyone who wants to understand what MTD is and where it is going. And we keep track of where all our clients are and whether they're meeting the requirements.
Currently, we are going through our larger-end, more complex clients that may have their own bespoke software to work out solutions for them. But every client is now aware of MTD and the monthly seminars will continue right up to April and possibly beyond.
Enough about this modern technology, let's talk old tech. Can you remember your first calculator?
My first calculator would have probably been when I was at secondary school. It would have been a scientific calculator with about 40 buttons which never meant anything, but you'd spend your day pressing them all and seeing what they did.
I actually think it is in the drawer at home next to the computer because every so often I need to find a calculator and that's the only one we have at home. It has small buttons so you always end up pressing the wrong one. It's completely different to the big calculator I have on my desk now that hasn't got any of the fancy features.