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IRIS World 2016 round-up

20th Sep 2016
Journalist
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Iris World 2016 stage
Tom Herbert

Headlines from IRIS’s flagship IRIS World event in Twickenham included an increase in customer services investment, the acquisition of forecasting tool Gearshift, a partnership with fintech lender iwoca, and the disclosure that the software company has been and will continue to play a part in HMRC’s Making Tax Digital project.

Harnessing digital change

After nine months in the post IRIS CEO Kevin Dady took to the stage for his first appearance at the conference as the software company’s chief, and one of the first things he did was to admit that the company ‘could do better’ in terms of its customer service offerings. While the company remained the go-to package for compliance, Dady said, there were still areas for improvement, and he used his platform to announce an £8m investment in customer service.

Dady went on to state that he believes the digital change driven by technology and legislation represents a real opportunity for IRIS accountants to provide value to their clients through a range business advisory tools, including the newly acquired Gearshift (see below for more details).

In an interview later Dady and senior product director Steve Cox told AccountingWEB that IRIS is one of 18 software companies working with HMRC on the government’s digital record keeping project, and speaking at the event Theresa Middleton, product director of Making Tax Digital for business announced that private beta testing of the software will begin in the next few months.

A full write-up of the interview with Kevin Dady and Steve Cox, along with a chat with Theresa Middleton, will be available on the site shortly.

Gearshift for IRIS

IRIS has agreed to acquire forecasting and reporting software tool Gearshift through the purchase of its parent company Level10.

Designed to accurately predict long and short term funding needs and extract more value from company data, Gearshift will integrate into fellow IRIS acquiree Kashflow to provide IRIS accountants with reporting and forecasting capabilities, enabling them to deliver high-value advisory services to their clients.

The acquisition is the latest move from the software house to expand on their compliance-based offering and provide their clients with the ‘trusted adviser’ tools many experts believe will be the future of the profession.

Commenting on the purchase Kevin Dady, CEO of IRIS, said: “As we move closer to Making Tax Digital, it is crucial accountants demonstrate additional value to their customers. While this is significant, we see this as an opportunity for practices of all sizes to utilise innovative technology tools to deliver financial and business consultancy; ultimately bring accountants closer to their clients while guiding them through the transition.”

Kevin Cowan, managing director of Level10, added, “It is becoming increasingly important for accountants to be able to produce financial information quickly, easily and in a format clients can understand. It’s exciting for Gearshift to be part of the next chapter in financial management.”

Gearshift will be re-branded into different editions for accountants and businesses; introducing a bundled edition of KashFlow that will include the new functionality.

KashFlow-iwoca partnership

Another KashFlow-based announcement from IRIS World came in the form of a partnership with fintech business lender iwoca.

Launched four years ago, the London fintech outfit offers credit facilities to small businesses trading in the UK, Poland, Spain, and Germany via an automated lending platform.

The partnership will offer KashFlow customers access to finance from within their account via the KashFlow apps page to cover unexpected cash flow issues such as overdue invoices or large bills.

Steven Cox, senior product director at IRIS commented: “Cash flow can cause problems for businesses of all shapes and sizes, although it can be particularly troublesome for the UK’s 5.3 million SMEs. The primary focus is often servicing clients and business growth, so unforeseen cash flow issues can have a disastrous impact. Our partnership with iwoca will empower small businesses to focus on growth by offering more choice of funding options.

“The partnership will also empower accountants who can now combine the real-time information in KashFlow with the insights provided by Gearshift to predict funding needs for their clients, not only where cash is tight, but also for growth. Using this information, accountants can then provide their clients with options and decisions, dealing with either cash collection issues or larger funding requirements.”

Replies (8)

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By Mouse house
20th Sep 2016 21:22

I was at IRIS World today. It didn't feel like it had the same buzz as in previous years. I don't know the numbers but there did seem to be fewer delegates and fewer exhibitors. Have all their customers moved to Taxfiler?

Thanks (1)
Replying to Mouse house:
By Tom Herbert
20th Sep 2016 22:32

Sorry to miss you at Iris World, Mouse house - do pop by and say hello next time.

I can see where you're coming from - it was solid rather than spectacular, but perhaps that's what customers need in turbulent times, and the Gearshift acquisition is an interesting move.

The delegate numbers thinned out toward the panel discussion at the end (I hope it was nothing personal!) but there seemed to be plenty around during the day - not sure about actual numbers though.

Thanks (1)
Adrian Pearson
By Adrian Pearson
21st Sep 2016 18:01

Hi Tom,

So, IRIS (not unexpectedly) are one of 18 software companies included in HMRC's MTD private beta group.

I think it would interest most AWEB members to know who the other 17 software companies are.

Is someone at your end going to ask?

Thanks (2)
Replying to Adrian Pearson:
By Tom Herbert
22nd Sep 2016 09:04

Morning Adrian,

Thanks for the comment. While its probably safe to assume that the usual suspects are all involved, I agree that a definitive list would be useful.

The question has been asked of HMRC, so if/when we hear back I'll be sure to let everyone know.

All the best,

Tom

Thanks (1)
Replying to TomHerbert:
Adrian Pearson
By Adrian Pearson
22nd Sep 2016 10:04

Great stuff Tom. As a public body, I presume HMRC have to disclose? Need for a FIA request should not be necessary for such a simple, non-controversial request I hope.

Thanks (0)
By Tim Vane
22nd Sep 2016 13:07

I doubt you'll get any joy - the supplier beta will probably be classed as pre-production and the commercial interest exemption will apply to any information request. Since HMRC are not spending any of their own money to develop the third party applications there won't be any overriding public interest reason to remove the exemption.

But no harm in trying.

A better solution might be to ask all the software suppliers whether or not they are part of the private beta. Many have already stated that they are so the rest my want to be seen as not being left behind if they are involved.

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By Tom Herbert
26th Sep 2016 11:22

Although I have yet to receive an official response from HMRC as to who the 18 software companies included in the MTD private beta group are, I notice the revenue has published a list of software providers for “simple record keeping”:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/record-keeping-and-simpler-in...

There seem to be 18 companies mentioned (if you roll Sage and Sage UK into one)...

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Replying to TomHerbert:
Adrian Pearson
By Adrian Pearson
18th Oct 2016 12:50

Yes, that does seem a coincidence.

No official confirmation yet then?

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