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Practice Gateway aims to bridge mid-tier information gap

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With accounting firms faced with a blizzard of information and a fractured software world, developer T-Tech has built a solution designed to consolidate client communications and cut down on manual data entry work.

12th Jun 2024
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When it comes to getting the information they need, T-Tech managing director Daniel Teacher believes accounting firms have a client problem.

“Accountants shouldn’t let clients do what they want,” Teacher told AccountingWEB. “You ask for ten things, they give you eight. You ask for one format, they give it to you in another. Once you have what you need, a trained accountant is reduced to manual data entry to enter it into your system or compliance software.”

T-Tech is an IT service provider to mid-tier and large accounting firms. In an attempt to solve the issues laid out above, bridge the firm-client information gap and automate low-level data-entry work, the company has developed its ‘Practice Gateway’ solution. Intended to act as a ‘digital front door’ for clients and firms, Practice Gateway was built as a single agnostic portal to provide a location for every client interaction.

“Accountants have a fractured software world,” continued Teacher. “They’re providing clients with multiple logins to payroll systems, personal tax products, customer portals, and even with these systems, they’re still sending countless emails back and forth. Interacting with clients is far more cumbersome than it needs to be.

“We have built a solution that allows for flexibility in how the client sends their information; they can email, post or plug it directly into Practice Gateway and the system will chase for whatever is missing.”

Lifting and shifting information

At a practice level, T-Tech’s system offers client onboarding, know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) services, handles document sharing, signing and approvals, processes personal tax information and enters it into compliance software via integrations or robotic process automation (RPA) ready for review and filing, and manages bill payment.

Practice Gateway’s personal tax element integrates with compliance software such as CCH, Digita, AlphaTax and others. Using RPA, the system lifts the previous year’s figures from the system and presents them to the customer, who can then update it with the relevant information. 

“Rather than asking clients ‘what income sources do you have this year?’ the system turns that around and says ‘you have these sources, would you mind filling in the blanks?’” said Teacher.

Once the update has been received, the system sluices it into the compliance software for review and approval by a qualified accountant, eliminating the need to transcribe data from disparate locations and systems into tax software.

Cutting out the ‘most-hated processes’

Another example of Practice Gateway’s automation is its KYC functionality, “the most hated process in accountancy,” according to Teacher. “Everyone hates the client take-on process because most of the work is analogue - humans passing information from system to system. There’s no reason why you can’t automate the whole thing, no human required.”

Practice Gateway is designed to flip the client take-on process via an automated system where the return of a templated form by a client triggers a pre-assigned KYC process where Practice Gateway runs the appropriate risk assessment checks.

“There’s also a QAD element,” said Teacher. “If your Institute or AML supervisor does an audit, they check for a current letter of engagement and many firms can’t do that. The Practice Gateway system provides this and allows it to be updated and accessed.”

The minimum entry point for the full version of Practice Gateway comes in at £25,000 a year, with a ‘Lite’ version available at around half that figure with bolt-on packs available depending on functionality requirements.

Based on customer timesheet data, Teacher believes many firms get 10-times the value of their investment in year one alone.

“We’ve seen firms cut a day’s work down to two hours, and two hours’ work down to 15 minutes,” said Teacher. “We think this solution has brought a lease of life to the industry where many firms are hindered by manual data entry and processes."

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By FactChecker
12th Jun 2024 19:26

“Accountants shouldn’t let clients do what they want,” Teacher told AccountingWEB ... I hope that's a typo?
Advising, suggesting, cajoling, reminding ... the list of interactions with clients is endless; BUT 'my way or the highway' is not MY version of Client Service!

[I pass no comment on a *minimum* entry point for full version being £25,000 p.a. - others might.]

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