Accountancy firm finds new software adds value for clients
An Accounting Gem Suffolk
Inform Direct has revolutionised operations at Ipswich-based An Accounting Gem, who previously maintained records manually and filed directly at Companies House. Adopting the fully online, integrated company secretarial solution has streamlined the firm's procedures and provided easy control over important filing deadlines.
- Streamlined procedures
- Control over deadlines
- Added value for clients
A chance discovery at an accountancy exhibition has led to an Ipswich-based firm streamlining its procedures for dealing with clients’ statutory filing to Companies House.
An Accounting Gem, which was established by Senior Partner Jeremy Buitenhuis in 2005, has a portfolio of 350 SMEs for which it provides a range of services including tax planning and advice, accounts, book-keeping and VAT.
Before discovering Inform Direct at the Accountex exhibition in early 2016, the team of ﬁve used manual systems to keep track of each individual client’s year-end deadlines.
Since purchasing Inform Direct’s cloud-based software, the ﬁrm has revolutionised its internal processes, saving time and money – and very importantly, with the reassurance that no important deadlines are being missed.
Six months on, we are appreciating just how fantastic this software is. Quite simply it’s taken all the stress and strain out of company law. With a little introductory training, we are all able to use it – and there’s telephone support from Inform Direct with a knowledgeable and friendly team if we need it.
As our practice has grown, we needed a system to help us keep track of what needed filing when, rather than relying on manual methods.
Another major plus has been the professional quality of the documents we produce for clients which are infinitely better than what we had before. They are also available at a keystroke which makes it easy for us to produce. I understand that this is a relatively new feature which allows a user to create the relevant board minute/resolution which can be automatically generated and pre-populated for every transaction we do. The documents are then stored in the online document library.
Getting started with Inform Direct was very straightforward. It’s easy to use and we didn’t have to go on lengthy training courses which are time-consuming and take us away from the day job. Any queries were quickly handled by the team who have been really good to deal with.
Six months on, we have integrated the software into our daily practice processes and haven’t looked back. From a business owner’s perspective, I am delighted that we chanced upon a system that has helped take our firm forward and give added value to our clients too.
Inform Direct contributes to success for growing accountancy firm
A rapidly-expanding accountancy practice which switched to Inform Direct’s company secretarial software a few years ago is finding an increasing number of benefits as it grows its business.
- Superior functionality
- Professional support
- Easy to switch
Devonports is located in Southend-on-Sea and Saffron Walden and, following a merger, recently added a third office in Billericay. It currently has around 600 limited company clients on the system.
Managing Director of Devonports, Ian Hornsey says:
“I am a great believer in using the best tools for the job and not having ‘all your eggs in one basket’. As well as providing the best company secretarial software on the market, Inform Direct is also good at anticipating and keeping ahead of what we need as a busy practice, adding timely enhancements to the software in response to changing market needs.”
It was at the Accountex exhibition several years ago that Practice Manager Rachel Jones first met members of the Inform Direct team. She knew immediately that it was the right solution for the firm which was looking to streamline its existing in-house processes and have greater flexibility and functionality.
To help Devonports switch to the new system, the Inform Direct support team carried out a bulk import of all the firm’s clients ensuring that the practice was able to continue providing CoSec services without disruption.
On-screen support, step-by-step guides and the intuitive user interface helped to ensure the team were quickly proficient with the new system.
Easy to navigate
“Straightaway we found Inform Direct very user-friendly and easy to navigate to access the information we needed, integrating well with our practice processes. And very importantly, there is the back-up of their knowledgeable and friendly team if we ever need help,” explains Rachel.
All of the users within the practice set up on the system have found the software very straightforward, whether it’s for confirmation statements, new incorporations, share allotments, changes to directors or producing professional template documents such as minutes, resolutions and dividends.
“Using Inform Direct, we save time on regular company secretarial work. It also allows us to easily handle more unusual, complex transactions, thereby adding value to clients and helping us provide a comprehensive, bespoke service.”
More and more impressed
Several years on, the firm, which has grown to its current headcount of more than 20 people, remains impressed with the CoSec product and the way it is helping their business grow.
“Inform Direct has not only supported our organic growth, but also made it easier for us to integrate a new office into our practice. Historically the Billericay practice had used a package that included company secretarial in its suite of programs – but as soon as we showed them Inform Direct, they loved it as much as we do and were amazed at what it could achieve for a very reasonable cost.”
Rachel reinforces the value of ongoing customer support, concluding:
“I always think the after-sales service is a key barometer of a good company and with Inform Direct this is consistently excellent. You often hear promises of ‘back-up and support’ during the sales process but this is genuinely the situation with Inform Direct and we greatly value having that ongoing reassurance if we need it.”
Company secretarial software enhances professional service to clients
Rivington Accounts Lancashire
Following an ICPA event, one accountancy firm decided it was time to start using dedicated company secretarial software to better support clients. Rivington Accounts is based in Chorley, Lancashire. The seven people in the practice support an extensive range of accountancy and related services to their varied client base.
- Free trial available
It was at an ICPA exhibition during the autumn of 2017 that the Partner of a Lancashire firm of accountants met the team from Inform Direct and saw a demonstration of its award-winning company secretarial software. Martin Horton, Partner of Rivington Accounts based in Chorley, set up the practice ten years ago and recently became an ICPA member.
Martin says: “It was the first time I had attended one of its exhibitions and I came away having found a package that could help our firm comply with company secretarial requirements on behalf of our clients.
Range of services
As a practice of seven people, we provide a broad range of accountancy services to clients, including book-keeping, payroll, compliance including company secretarial, and management reporting support. We also look after all sizes of businesses too, from SMEs to much larger companies, some of which are located in our area and some in other parts of the UK.
After seeing the Inform Direct team demonstrate the software, we agreed to the three-month free trial offered to ICPA members. We quickly saw the benefits it could deliver to the practice and had no problem taking this to the next stage and signing up as a client!
Previously we had managed company secretarial work in-house with spreadsheets and workflow management packages.
The Inform Direct software not only saves time but also provides reassurance at a glance that we are keeping to deadlines and we appreciate the direct link it provides with Companies House. It’s also very intuitive and easy to use, making company secretarial work much more straightforward. We’ve had a really easy time getting started and using the software, but having the knowledgeable support team at Inform Direct is very helpful should we ever need additional assistance.
From a client’s perspective it makes us appear more professional with printed documents that look good and are easy to produce.
I decided to join the ICPA as I felt it was good to have a network to tap into where there are other members like us. Already we are finding the support and information it can provide in such areas as insurance and money laundering extremely helpful as well as the events it organises.
Tony Margaritelli from ICPA added:
It’s great to hear that practices such as Rivington Accounts are finding our services and events so helpful. We are also delighted to the working in partnership with Inform Direct and being able to offer our members a three-month free trial on its award-winning company secretarial software.
A more professional way to manage company secretarial services for clients
Kelly Accounting Perthshire
As their practice grew, one accountancy firm realised that it made sense to invest in company secretarial software. Kelly Accounting Limited is based in Crieff, Perthshire. Their six person team provides a wide range of accountancy services with a focus on efficient, best of breed solutions.
- Streamlined practice systems
- Added value to clients
- More time available
A more efficient way to manage deadlines for clients and automatic production of forms, compliant company registers and other documents, together with major time-saving for senior members of the practice were just some of the reasons why a Perthshire firm of accountants made the move to become an Inform Direct customer.
Kelly Accounting, which was established in 2002 by David and Susan Kelly, is based in Crieff and now has a team of six offering a full range of accountancy services to a portfolio of clients located from Shetland to New Zealand.
David Kelly says:
“Susan and I decided to set up a practice after completing our accountancy qualifications and working for a while overseas. In fact, it was a busy time for us – within the space of six weeks we had acquired a puppy, moved house, set up the practice and had a child!
“As a full service accountancy practice helping with payroll, tax, business sales, VAT, and company secretarial, we have built up our client base over the years and enjoy a high retention rate of businesses operating in a number of sectors.
“Early on we wanted to establish ourselves as a practice that was technologically advanced and different from some of our competitors, so have invested in a number of software platforms to carry out different accounting functions, with the objective of using the best of the breed in each case.
“Suddenly being tasked with a more complex company secretarial task for a client led us to Inform Direct who we had previously met at Accountex – and we have never looked back.
“Previously we had kept all our company secretarial requirements on a spreadsheet, using the Companies House system – which was pretty basic. We knew we needed a more sophisticated system which allowed us to do more – and where the key information for all our clients was presented clearly in one place, so that no deadlines were missed.
“Inform Direct is a very user-friendly system to use. It’s clear and logical, making it easy to find the right information and submit forms correctly first time. We also appreciate the friendly support team who are always able to help and solve any queries we may have, quickly and efficiently – and they even imported our client database, so we were up and running very quickly.
“Now our administration support team can easily produce professional-looking forms for clients, such as share certificates, dividend vouchers and statutory registers. They’re well-formatted and need minimum input from us.
“We can deliver the service efficiently and effectively and add value at the same time. By using Inform Direct we save time compared to using a combination of Companies House and spreadsheets – and can offer our clients so much more.
“Quite simply it has streamlined our practice systems and saved a huge amount of time, particularly in relation to new company formations and has released senior members of the practice to focus on other matters.”
New accountancy practice embeds 'best in breed' software to achieve digital vision
Gains Accountants Barking
Setting up a new practice, the founder of Gains Accountants knew she wanted to get the best available software from the start. Based in Barking with a team of four, the practice offers a wide range of services supported by best in breed software.
- Best of breed software
- Efficiency savings
- Easy to learn and use
A strategy to become a completely digital practice – and harnessing the latest and best software on the market to make this happen – has led a new Essex-based accountancy practice to use Inform Direct for all its company secretarial services.
New practice, new vision
Gains Accountants, set up by Phool Ashraf, is based in Barking and currently has a team of four, with plans to grow rapidly. The practice offers a broad range of services including corporate and personal taxation, VAT and filing statutory business accounts, business forecasting and advice, as well as company secretarial, bookkeeping, payroll and cloud accounting services.
“When I set up Gains Accountants with my partner Tariq after a number of years working in practice and industry, I wanted to differentiate ourselves from our competitors. I strongly believed the way to do this was by becoming a completely digital practice, providing the best possible service to clients and maximising our productivity through automation.
“This meant embedding best of breed software packages into our operation right at the very start, which will add even more value as our business expands. It enables us to gain insight into our clients’ businesses, offer the best service to our clients from the outset, and avoid the cost, effort and disruption of migration further down the line.
“I had used Inform Direct in a previous role so I knew about the benefits it could deliver as well as its intuitive, user-friendly approach. Since we integrated it into our workflow, we have seen significant improvements – between 7-10% greater efficiency within our team.
“An example of this is the confirmation statement. We can send a draft to the client for approval, which automatically includes changes made since the last confirmation statement. Because the client has clarity of what is being submitted, what might have taken two or three emails before is now streamlined.
“Across Inform Direct, there are loads of efficiency savings like these. It already makes a big difference to us, meaning we can spend more time adding value to clients and winning new business. Having made the right decision up front, I can focus on growth, confident that we’ll continue to reap the benefits of great software when we have hundreds or thousands of clients.”
Empowering a growing team
Staff development is high on the agenda and Phool is keen to ally the career goals of her team with those of the practice. One of the ways she is achieving this is broadening the skillset of her team, including training them to use Inform Direct.
“It’s extremely easy to train others as the software is so usable and logical,” she says. “New members of staff have picked Inform Direct up very quickly, and actually enjoy using it. I really appreciate all the software guides and knowledgeable technical articles and also the responsiveness of the team if you need advice.”
In addition to Inform Direct, other packages in the suite used by Gains Accountants include Xero, Receipt Bank, AccountancyManager and Taxfiler – which together deliver the functionality required by the practice which would not be possible with one integrated solution.
Phool is committed to her vision of becoming a completely digital practice and supporting SMEs.
“It’s very exciting to see how our strategy of using ‘best in breed’ Is working and the efficiency improvements in our workflow. Inform Direct is playing a central role in this and helping us to achieve our goal,” she concludes.
Well-designed company secretarial software is essential to manage large client portfolio
JFS Torbitt Accountants County Durham and Northumberland
Rapid growth – and a resulting large client portfolio – accelerated the need for a north-east firm of accountants to identify and adopt software to keep pace with demand and give added value to clients.
- Efficiency for 500 incorporated clients
- Comprehensive features
- Extensive time savings
Derrick Hutchinson and Jane Freeman established JFS Torbitt Accountants almost ten years ago and found that the rapid expansion of their practice sharpened the focus on automating key processes to ensure accuracy and maximise efficiency.
With two offices – a head office in Birtley, County Durham and a satellite office in Blyth, Northumberland – and an expanding team of 18 people, JFS has a growing portfolio of around 1,300 clients, across a range of sectors.
The holistic business consultancy offered by the practice comprises accountancy services including company secretarial compliance, business planning, taxation, payroll and wealth management.
Practice Manager Derrick explains:
“It became very clear that we could no longer rely on manual records for our company secretarial services. A spreadsheet would simply not do the job in terms of managing hundreds of clients efficiently and the login requirements for each company at Companies House were laborious.
“I first came across Inform Direct when looking for a template for a stock transfer form and found something that not only pre-populated the form itself but also generated the required minutes, new share certificate and wrote up the statutory books too.
“I quickly registered and subscribed after seeing straightaway how useful the platform would be, with a comprehensive range of features and functions that we might require for our clients’ individual needs.
“The way the system has been set up means that it is hands down better than any other of its kind. Everything is well laid out, with lots of shortcuts so we can change shareholder information and create new documents instantly. There’s also a great overview of all our 500 incorporated clients, where we can see deadlines – including accounts filing dates and confirmation statements – at a glance.
“One of the key benefits it has given us is reassurance that we are not missing any deadlines, as well as saving time and being accurate. Even for a standard confirmation statement, we save ten minutes per client. The savings quickly add up for clients with additional transactions, especially when they’re more complex.
“It’s intuitive, easy to use and the support team is fantastic. We have five people using it in the practice who have trained each other, getting telephone help if needed.
“As a practice we have always sought technology that will help us and our clients. It’s interesting to reflect just how quickly we have progressed on the road to becoming a completely digital practice, using a range of packages including Sage Business Cloud, Xero, Cashflow Manager, AutoEntry and of course Inform Direct to achieve this.”
Inform Direct transforms company secretarial service for West Midlands accounts
Ragavan And Co. Birmingham
Using Inform Direct as an integral part of its office systems has transformed the way a West Midlands accountancy practice handles company secretarial requirements for its 200 clients.
- Immediate practice benefits
- Better service to clients
- Freeing up time
Ragavan & Co. was established in 1990 by Sunth Ragavan and specialises in providing a wide range of services for SMEs, from sole traders through to larger companies. Around 75% are located within a small radius of its Birmingham base; the remaining clients are in other parts of the UK, including London.
Services include helping business start-ups, bookkeeping, accounts preparation, VAT, payroll, taxation and tax planning.
During a month-long free trial of Inform Direct, it immediately became clear that what was on offer would be particularly useful in their daily work for clients.
Sunth says: “Historically we had kept manual systems for our clients’ filing dates – at the very start as a handwritten schedule which seems archaic now! More recently we maintained an Excel spreadsheet but even this was becoming more difficult to manage as our client base grew.
“With Inform Direct, it meant we could not only do this more efficiently but be reassured we hadn’t missed anything. It saved significant time and the fact that all our client information was integrated on the portal saved us from inputting data in several different places.
“We saw that being able to produce printable dividend vouchers was a real benefit, enabling us to offer a better service to our clients.”
Just as dividend vouchers are particularly useful for Ragavan & Co, many accountants have been able to extend their offering to clients with branded share certificates, attractive company registers and a comprehensive range of minutes, resolutions and other documents – all fully pre-populated and available at the touch of a button.
Sunth continues: “As an established practice in our area, we have a loyal client base many of whom have been with us for 20 years and appreciate our personal and timely service when dealing with their affairs. Having these processes automated with Inform Direct saves so much time that we can work smarter, adding value to our service.
“Initially I was the only user but I have now trained two other members of our team so that I can delegate this process and only need to do a final check, freeing up my time to focus on other aspects of the practice.
“It’s easy to use but also really helpful to have advice at the end of a telephone or know that one of the knowledgeable team will respond quickly to an email query.
“We do use other software packages to carry out different functions within the practice such as bookkeeping and tax returns. I would rather do this than have one package that supposedly does everything where you are totally reliant. Choosing the best for each aspect has worked for us and Inform Direct is a case in point for company secretarial services.
“As we continue to grow – and there’s plenty of potential SME business in the West Midlands – having the right systems in place means we can confidently take on new clients and know that we can offer them a high quality, efficient service.”