With advances in technology and increasing expectations of customers, the role of the accountant is evolving. Accounting firms are realising the importance of shifting from a transactional, compliance-based role, into advisory. Modern accountants are aware that they should be focusing their time on providing insights and value for their clients, meaning they must always be looking for new and innovative ways to reduce their time spent on compliance tasks. Technology is the key to this, according to Glenn Redler, founder of GX Accountancy & Bookkeeping Services.
GX Accounts provides forward-thinking accountancy, bookkeeping and tax services for small and growing businesses. Glenn Redler founded GX Accounts in 2016, and has since grown it to a team of 4, working with over 250 clients in the UK, ranging from sole traders, to limited companies, to not-for-profits. We spoke to Glenn about his journey as an accountant and how he differentiates his firm from the pack using cloud tools and a personable approach.
What differentiates GX Accounts from the competition?
Our service separates us from our competitors. We don't actually compete on price; we compete on value. With cloud-based packages we can advise our clients and help them make their decisions virtually. Quality service is priority. During COVID, we haven’t shoved marketing emails down people’s throats; we phoned our customers up and asked them if they were doing OK.
Technology allows us to provide that service that little bit easier. We do still have clients that give us paper as there is still a generational gap. Older clients don't tend to like to deal with technology. And we’re very honest about what we offer. If a potential client is not willing to adapt to fit with us, we won’t force it - we will recommend them on to someone else.
How do you provide value to your clients?
We drive value to clients through contact and connection. New clients often tell us that their old accountant would only speak to them three times a year. Those communications were usually generic or asking for a bill to be paid. For us, it's about a personal and hands-on approach. Technology allows us to do this easier. I see it helping us in two ways. 1: tools that reduce paperwork and admin processes help us free up time so we can spend more time adding value; and 2: technology is a great marketing tool.
How do you use technology as a marketing tool?
I show my customers first-hand how I can improve their processes. For example, I saw the potential in ReceiptBank about 2 months after we launched, and immediately signed up. I could see it was a complete game-changer and it was going to differentiate me from everyone else. At networking events I speak to potential customers who tell me about their processes and that their bookkeeper or accountant is asking them to enter details into spreadsheets. I can take out my mobile phone and show them how we can completely eliminate paper using the app.
Technology plays a really crucial part in what we do. Staying ahead of the game is sometimes the biggest challenge. We wouldn't be where we are without being able to use technology to drive the business forward, and to save us time to be able to spend more time on marketing and growing the business.
What do you find most challenging with payroll?
Payroll is a crucial part of the work we do for our clients. You have to put a lot of care and effort into payroll, so it doesn’t take a lot for it to go from half an hours’ work, to all of a sudden 3 hours. The most difficult part of normal payroll is calculating holiday pay, variable rates etc., especially with starters and leavers. Throw into the mix the work relating to auto-enrolment pensions and ongoing changes to legislation, especially lately with the furlough scheme. Anyone working within payroll deserves a medal after the efforts of the last few months!
We mainly process payroll for directors. The most frustrating thing about director payroll is repeating the same tasks every month despite the payroll often being the same.
How could you make director payroll easier?
Ultimately, if a software did it all automatically including automatic submissions during the course of a year, that would make it easier. The issue there for me, is there still would need to be the ability to review and control the automation. Automation is the key in terms of making life easy; but there would still need to be the ability to check, stop, or review it to ensure payroll is accurate.
For more insights and updates from Glenn, follow GX Accounts on Twitter.