Screenshot of the new flinder reporting tool
Flinder

flinder targets client growth with new reporting app

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Accountancy practice flinder has become the latest firm to take on the established accounting tech order by developing a data analytics and reporting tool for its roster of ambitious clients.

17th Aug 2022
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Designed to bring multiple data sets together in one place, the flinder app highlights key financial and non-financial information customised to the strategy of that business and allows them to drill down, segment and visualise data at speed.

Launched five years ago when co-founders Alastair Barlow and Luke Streeter left roles at PwC to start out in practice, flinder works predominantly with fast-growth, often equity-funded businesses with demanding stakeholder requirements, providing finance function and consulting services.

Implemented and customised with assistance from the flinder team, the app uses application programming interface (API) connections to import internal business data and selected external information, where users have the ability to filter and segment it. 

“We didn’t want separate dashboards for financial and operational data, we wanted to bring them together,” Barlow told AccountingWEB. “It’s about finding correlations. What are the patterns in terms of revenue, price of the product or volume? The filters are infinite. For example, you can look at sales performance by geography, person, role and so on, restructure how the data is visualised, or restrict access by role preference.”

flinder app demonstration screenshot
Image: flinder

Winner of multiple Accounting Excellence awards, the firm has previously trialled reporting tools from business intelligence specialists such as Klipfolio, but found that the majority of apps were not powerful enough to handle the volume of data it needed.

“When you get into the depths of work with complex clients – embedding yourself as a finance function – you can’t be generic in terms of what you deliver as a service,” said Barlow. “That’s where we think the gap in the market is. Off-the-shelf vendors appeal to 60% of the market and their customers are happy with what’s provided. That’s fine for them but not for us and what we’re doing. We’re deeply embedded, charge premium fees and align our services with the client’s business.”

The firm hired a team of developers working out of its Belfast office, scoped out what was needed for the tool and went about building it. 

A key driver for the development was the ability to control the data manipulation and visualisation – looking for in-depth insight into not only what the numbers are, but why.

“We wanted to make the app’s visualisations relevant for the strategy of the business and what the users want,” said Barlow. “Are they entrepreneurial CEOs? Are they experienced finance people? We want this to be about the customisation of data sets – taking data from other systems and bringing them together to add more value.” 

The app is currently available for flinder clients – a number of whom have been using it as part of the firm’s finance function offering for several months. Access is via early invite only but could be available for other firms in the future. In terms of pricing, flinder is exploring a free basic dashboard, but Barlow anticipates the pricing for a basic customisable dashboard starting at £500 a month and going beyond £1,000 depending on the number of users, dashboards and so on. There is an implementation fee as well as the monthly fee.

Accountant as fintech founder: the trend gathers momentum

The move is the latest in a growing number of accounting firms moving into software development, with Mazuma’s MazApp, Crisp Accountancy’s Vaulta reporting software and the FreshPay cloud payroll tool all joining the movement in recent months.

While the flinder app targets a different type of client than any of the above tools, Barlow believes the “accountant as fintech founder” trend is real and there are several reasons for it. “Firstly, the personalities of accounting leaders are different to ten or 20 years ago. The sector is now attractive to a broader set of skills than it was historically – there’s a different vision of the profession, more appetite for risk and less patience.

“Also, the cost of doing things like this has come down and developing apps has become more mainstream,” he added. “More people are doing it and this, in turn, inspires others and broadens the opportunity to improve things like client service or firm efficiency. 

“There’s more niching than ever before. [Mazuma’s] Lucy Cohen saw an opportunity to deliver something to clients they couldn’t get anywhere else with the firm’s app. Our business is insight first, and because of that we saw a big gap in the market for delivering business-wide information.” 

Last year's winners of the Accounting Excellence Awards next to the sponsors logos: Inuit Quickbooks, Xero, Koinly, Sage, Iris, Mercia, Bright and Beanworks by Quadient

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