By Pamela Phillips.
What we love best about our work is genuinely improving productivity, processes, and profitability for our clients. Whilst at the heart of our work is unrivalled accountancy, we are also passionate about ensuring you have superb return-on-effort as well as return on investment.
This month we speak candidly with our client Impact Research about how we transformed their day-to-day finance to-do list and supported them to move forward with a robust growth plan.
Darryl Swift and David Pearmain now have the powerful insights they need to run their Market Research agency profitably. We love working with them and supporting them as their innovative full-service finance function.
Being a business owner is both challenging and rewarding. There are always going to be elements that drive you and some that drag you down. However, everyone agrees that time spent in spreadsheets needs to be time well spent thinking proactively rather than worrying. Fundamentally, you want to rely on the numbers that you’re looking at. Darryl and David had somehow found themselves in a place of time-consuming worry. They knew that something needed to change.
The challenge: head down in spreadsheets and unreliable data
Impact Research is a Market Research company that conducts research on behalf of large companies in the Utilities, FMCG, and Retail sectors.
So, how did we get here? Three years ago, Darryl and David realised they needed to enhance and improve their finance function. At the time they employed a full-time bookkeeper and were working with an external accountant to file their accounts. David, the CEO, was covering everything else - from chasing receipts through to managing the bookkeeper and maintaining spreadsheets.
The 4 main problems were:
- Old school processes: Offline spreadsheets were being used as the primary profit tracking tool. Some of the systems were antiquated and inefficient and they felt there was an urgent need to do something around that.
- Inaccurate data: Put simply, the accounts were not accurate and the team weren’t obtaining timely accounts.
- Poor return-on-effort: The laborious process for collating data and updating the spreadsheets was taking up huge amounts of senior management’s time that could be used for strategy and growth.
- Fatigue and frustration: Darryl says: ‘It felt that whatever we did, however hard we tried we could never get accurate figures. Often we would get supplied with figures but within a couple of weeks, those figures would change significantly. This made it very difficult to predict current performance and plan ahead.’ Darryl adds: “Previously our CEO was spending a lot of time in spreadsheets, and there would still be errors, which was very frustrating for him”.
The journey: changing an established culture
The Impact Research team were positive and confident that moving to a more digital and joined-up way of working would free up time so that David could reduce his hours to 4 days a week (a personal goal of his). This new approach would also improve the quality and timeliness of the insights they could get from their numbers.
Their vision was to work closely with a hands-on finance team who were experts in Xero and its connected apps to take on the full finance function of Impact Research. Effectively they needed an outsourced finance team that would be integrated into their business and support them just like in-house colleagues.
The journey was an exciting and rewarding one and one that the Impact Research team are very proud of!
The 4 main changes are:
- Confidence in the data and technology: The Impact Research team knows that now they can concentrate on using technology with a focus on accuracy and efficiency: “We already used Xero and felt it was good software so we searched for an accountant through their website. de Jong Phillips solely use Xero.” Darryl says - “I’m really confident that whatever I see in front of me is accurate!”.
- A whole-team approach: “I really like how we work with the different individuals in de Jong Phillips. We’re not reliant on just one person.”
- A collaborative culture: “There’s a really good partnership between the two companies.” Darryl also loves how we’re local: “We wanted an accountancy firm that was close so we could see you. It’s important to get to know each other and have that personal contact. When we spoke to you we realised you were very pro-technology, plugging it into Xero to make everything easier, smoother, and quicker.”
Looking forward together: Darryl says “ [de John Phillips are a ] highly driven company, always looking for solutions, always really wanting to understand how the business functions and always looking at other ways to help make the business succeed.”
What were the main challenges and concerns?
It can be tough to change a very embedded culture and to make radical changes like switching to an external finance team. We get that this can be sensitive and there are many things for companies to consider with this type of transformation. Budget, staff, and time are all big factors, and whilst the ‘solution’ may be crystal clear, it’s important to think carefully about the cost and staff implications too.
Darryl says: “The big question mark was cost because we did have an internal accountant and an external accountant for end of year accounts. We were concerned about the cost but as it transpired it worked out more or less the same having someone internal.”
Result: making better business decisions with a better return-on-effort
Since moving their finance function to us Darryl says “David now spends less time on the accounts and we have more confidence in the numbers.”
Darryl says “With Xero as our main platform, and all the other integrated apps like Harvest, Dext, and Float we now have greater insight into how our business is performing. All this helped us make the best business decisions for the company. And for that, I can't thank de Jong Phillips enough.”
Positioned well for the pandemic
“Our hunger for financial information and forecasts from de Jong Phillips increased exponentially during the pandemic. As a business, we urgently needed forecasts for P&L and Cashflow and the de Jong Phillips team supported us every step of the way. They kept us informed on government support, helped us with furlough strategies and claims, and, importantly, provided us with cashflow forecasting (using different scenarios) - at an increased frequency.”
“I'm hugely grateful to the transition we made to go digital with de Jong Phillips pre-COVID. This has prepared us for where we are now”.
So what does life look like now?
Darryl says de Jong Phillips “really are embedded in our business. We needed someone who could interpret the figures in black and white to help us make tough business decisions. There is much trust there, and the team has really supported us during the ups and downs. They’re now training our internal business units to become more commercial in their thinking and learning how their decisions impact the accounts and budget.”
And most importantly - David has been able to free up enough of his time to reduce his hours to 4 days a week!
Have we met expectations?
“There’s no doubt that de Jong Phillips are amazing at a) understanding our business b) moving us into systems that make accountancy easier to understand c) de Jong Phillips have helped us interpret the financial results we’ve been getting and helping us to predict what to expect in terms of the different elements, whether it’s profit or cash flow.”
Thank you so much to both David and Darryl at Impact Research for taking the time to share their story and inspire others to make the change to outsourcing their finance function
Are you ready to move your finance function over to us?
- Do you want a finance function that focuses on technology and profitability?
- Do you need full team support for the cost of an individual?
- Do you want to remove the hassle and frustration of dealing with the data yourself?
Darryl says: “The benefits for outsourcing meant that we would have a professional team, not reliant on one individual but a team, who would have the resource and the capacity and also a team who would help us use more innovative solutions when it comes to accountancy. More digital solutions as opposed to how we were doing things before. This would give us more accurate reports and help us to plan better and understand the current performance of the business.”
Does this sound intriguing? We’re here to support you so you can enjoy owning your business!
Let’s chat about how we can help you! Book a 15-minute discovery session with one of the team today.