North East Accountants Transforms Business with App Services
How MyFirmsApp future-proofs an accountancy practice with App services
Ralph Thoburn is the Managing Director of Prime Accountancy Group, a firm dedicated to helping selected clients grow their businesses, retain more of what they earn and put that wealth to best use. Ralph is also an AVN Mastery Member. Prime Accountancy Group is one of only a handful of small accountancy firms nationally to hold the AVN Award for Excellence.
The Challenge for Accountants, Bookeepers and Advisors
Connecting with a client is at the heart of every successful business. Having built a well-respected accountancy practice, Ralph wanted to ensure that his business was relevant to every client. Creating an App enabled Ralph to make that connection.
Having an App is also an engagement mechanism. A meeting with a larger client, which included younger member of their team was energized when the subject of Apps was discussed. Ralph explained. “I was conscious that the son of the client I was meeting seemed disengaged with the meeting, spending most of his time using his phone.
“Over the years we have done some excellent work for this client, structuring their business and saving both the father and the son a significant amount of money and tax. Notwithstanding that, the son and I had always struggled to really ‘connect’ and the relationship was very much centered between the father and I.
Then I asked if the son had our App on his phone, and his interest levels soared.
When I showed him the GPS mileage tracker in particular – I suddenly had his attention like never before. Who’d have thought an App would have been the bridge I needed. But now I have his ear. And am much more confident that I am no longer this ‘fathers’ stuffy accountant’ but am seen as their business adviser and someone he can work just as well with, when he takes over.”
Accountancy services have always had to evolve to remain relevant to their clients. As business has accelerated with mobile devices becoming dominant – Ofcom reports that two-thirds of consumers now own a smartphone and use them to access Internet based services with 86 per cent of smartphone usage is with Apps – the App ecosystem has made a paradigm change in how businesses and individuals now manage many aspect of their lives – none more so than the their personal and business financial health.
One great example of this has been the adoption of cloud accountancy services by Prime Accountancy Group, and in particular Xero. The collaborative nature of the working relationship this has helped create, and the ease of viewing and understanding key data and numbers has been transformative for existing and new businesses alike. Because his clients can all access Xero through his own App, Ralph has now created even more value and simplicity for his business owners. They can send data from the App directly into Xero, and have many more tools available through the one Prime Accountancy App. That means it’s Ralph’s brand being enagaged with on a daily and weekly basis. The value is centred on Prime Accountancy Group rather than a third party and as Ralph adopts more cloud systems in the future, they too can all be accessed through his one single App.
Always on the cutting-edge of technology, the Prime Accountancy Group were one of the early adopters of App services thanks to the fast and efficient App development platform pioneered by MyFirmsApp.
“Our initial thoughts about developing an App were really to initially have a way to look at tax tables for instance, but we have since realized that our App can deliver much more than this to us as a business, and of course the services our clients want,” said Ralph.
“We are now in a different era,” Ralph continued. “For instance, I don’t now need to spend the money I used to getting tax table cards printed. Now our business cards have a QR code that links seamlessly to our App. The App of course also offers many more services including GPS mileage tracking, receipt management and tax calculators. And once we had our App, we could use it to support our clients in many more ways.”
The App that Ralph is now using ensures his business is ready to support new clients and business owners:
“Having an App for your accountancy practice also taps into how many of your future clients will want to interact and buy services from our practice. People in university and people in their 20s and 30s now are our clients. The fact that 74 per cent of the 34-55 age group use Apps on a daily basis, is a clear call to action for all businesses trying to decide whether an App is for them.
And as they are the screen generation used to buying and accessing services on their phones via Apps, it follows that they will also want to manage their personal and business accounts in a similar way. An App can simply future proof your accountancy practice. Your App will build brand loyalty. You simply can’t build that loyalty without mobile services.”
Remaining relevant and keeping channels of communication open to clients is an on-going challenge for all accountancy practices. Ralph explained their approach:
“One of the most powerful features of an App is the ability to connect with our clients on a very personal level. Before we had the App we would send generic newsletters to our clients. With the App we can target specific groups of clients with information or news that is relevant to them. This is a very powerful way of reinforcing the relationship we have with our clients – something that would be impossible without our App. We are even seeing our suppliers and commercial partners sharing information about our App, which has meant we have been able to reach more potential clients with very little marketing spend.”
Ralph could see that accounting as a profession was rapidly changing. Clients who were increasingly using mobile devices and Apps to run their businesses and busy lives, would begin to use the availability of an App, as a key differentiator when choosing services to buy – including accountants services, which were themselves being transformed out of all recognition by the cloud.
“Our App is a reaction to how we see the accounting sector changing, and how clients are now managing the financial aspects of their lives,” Ralph explained. “For instance, I am moving my banking, as my current bank can’t offer me the seamless mobile banking I need to run my business efficiently. It’s the same with our clients. They want seamless accounting services delivered to their mobile devices. Our App enables us to do that. We can also see how cloud-based accounting services are transforming our sector. These services enable a collaborative relationship with clients to develop, which have simply not been achievable in the past.
Ralph continued: “It makes sense to integrate these platforms into a single App for our clients, as they are asking for integrated solutions that simply work. They can access all of the services that we provide, and also give them access to any third party system they want to use all from our App. Accountancy practices will in a few years be wondering how they ever ran their businesses without an App.”
“Your App will build brand loyalty. You simply can’t build that loyalty without mobile services.”
There is no time to waste if accountancy practices don’t want to be left behind, as their clients move increasingly to managing their personal and business finances on the move with Apps.
Only those businesses that understand how the App ecosystem is influencing their services now and how these will evolve into the future will become destination accountancy practices.
“The building of our App has been incredibly straightforward thanks to MyFirmsApp. The level of service is excellent making the whole App development process seamless and incredibly fast and efficient.”
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