social impact report & annual statement

Adding the Human Touch to a Digital Accountancy Practice

In this weeks guest blog we will be hearing from Jo Wood, Virtual FD.

The world of bookkeeping and accountancy has changed massively in the last 20 years. When I was an apprentice, we had ledger books, Sage on DOS and I was amazed about this new technology that allowed you to send letters on a computer. In recent years I have heard bookkeepers and accountants talk about the future of the industry with fear in their voices. The rapid improvement and functionality of technology has removed so many of the repetitive tasks from our roles. “Soon we won’t be needed, our jobs will be taken over by robots!”

I have never been fearful, only excited. I’m an entrepreneur at heart and that is why I love my job so much. I get to work with likeminded business owners every day and talk about my favourite subject – money!

I think that most bookkeepers and accountants need to worry about their jobs, because they are not willing to embrace the future and educate themselves on how to be an advisor in this new world of technology. I have never been scared, because I understand that we all crave for human connection and that is now what we need to provide. For years I sat behind a computer dreading having to talk to a client. I was trained to believe that HMRC were really the client, I would speak to my managers about the businesses I was dealing with but never thought to speak to the owners.

This was until I ran a business for myself. I built a bookkeeping business in partnership with an accountancy firm. It grew quickly and I was craving as much information that I could handle regarding how my business was doing financially. I wanted to know whether this business could be the vehicle that helped me achieve my dreams. It suddenly clicked that this is what all my clients wanted, and I had not been providing them with this service.

I learnt that turnover is vanity, profit is sanity and that cash was King. I started providing my clients with cash flow forecasts and this is when I could see that my service was no longer just ticking boxes, I was having an impact on how well my client’s businesses were performing.

Fast forward to 2019, after leaving my most recent role as a Finance Director for an events business, I decided I wanted to set up a 100% virtual and digital firm and help as many business owners as I could.

I have fully embraced the latest technology to allow me to service more clients with less staff. I run my business from my kitchen table with just a laptop and the ability to be a Mum to my 3 children.

I use social media for marketing. Gone are the days of spending thousands on the yellow pages and websites. I have a £0 marketing budget. I use LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram and just connect with people. I am part of various groups where I give value to people, so they can learn to know, like and trust me.

I use three main applications for the work and each of those applications give me an account manager who ensures that I have the latest updates on the technology, that I am using all of the functionality and help me to teach my clients how to use the software too. They benefit if my business grows, so they help me to be the best in my field.

Spending less time on the “work” means that I can speak to my clients at least once a month via video call to review their last month and look to the future by working on budgets and holding them accountable to their goals.

My focus is no longer completing the year end accounts and the compliance, I now look to the future and stand side by side with the business owner steering the ship towards their chosen destination.

If you are interested in writing a guest blog please email me, I would love to hear your ideas, thoughts or views : Ruth