Every AccountancyManager user sits somewhere on the ‘digital knowledge’ spectrum. Those who admit technology terrifies them at one end and actual developers at the other. Aaron Patrick is of the latter ilk. So much so, he once started building his own version of AccountancyManager.
Aaron’s practice, Boffix, is four years old and has around 10 employees across two offices, in Derby and London. Before delving into Aaron’s experience with AM, we found out about his practice and approach.
“I used to get asked how many clients I have and I’d be like “Urrm…?” Now, thanks to AccountancyManager, the exact number comes up when I log in.”
Work experience turns into an unexpected career
“I never wanted to be an accountant growing up,” recalls Aaron. “It never even crossed my mind. I wanted to be a teacher. But I did work experience at an accountancy practice at age 16 and was offered a job. They offered me an AAT apprenticeship and that opened my eyes to what accountancy is. It’s not just numbers and calculators, it’s helping clients. That’s what appealed to me. I did my AAT, moved on to a bigger firm – a top 50 firm – and did my ICAEW.”
Specialising in e-commerce, R&D and charities
Behind the unusual name, Boffix has somewhat of an unusual nature. Aaron is a self-confessed geek and this passion for technology and innovation is reflected in his clientbase and services. “We’ve found that we work particularly well with the e-commerce industry. We have a lot of UK resellers.”
“[R&D] is an opportunity to go, ‘OK, what’s this wonderful thing?’ How can we help get it going?”
“R&D is a big one for us too. I get really excited when I’m listening to what the R&D claims are all about. It fits nicely with what we’re trying to build and achieve. R&D will always be something that’s exciting and fun and it’s a great buzzword as well. It’s a great little niche.”
“We’re all about real-time information. That’s how we can help clients.”
“The next one we’re pushing towards – and have really good insights into – is charities. You hear these horror stories with charities, but I think that’s because, traditionally, it was all left to the last minute. We love real-time information and we want to promote that as much as possible because that’s how we can help clients.”
One of only 10 certified QuickBooks trainers in the UK
Another string to Aaron’s bow is his qualification as a certified QuickBooks trainer. “There’s only 10 of us in the UK and we’re certified by Intuit to deliver training to accountants.”
“I’m really proud of that. It was a long road, but it was so exciting, we even got a little trophy for it!”
“It also means that I can promote that as an extra opportunity for my practice. We’re building a whole training platform that we want to push out. It was a catalyst to think ‘Alright, what can we do with that certification? How can that give us a USP that no other accountancy firm can say?’”
…And a YouTuber to boot
“Oh, and we’ve got a YouTube channel, well, multiple YouTube channels now. They’ve had really good growth. And it gives us something to share on social media as well. So it’s not just trying to hard sell. It’s actually providing information that’s going to be useful for people.”
What does an accountant/developer think of a system built by an accountant and developer?
When we asked Aaron when he started using AM, we got a surprising reply. “It was about two years ago. Prior to that, we tried to build our own. I do a lot of coding, so I built an AccountancyManager-esque database. None of the cleverness, just the database side of it, but we were quite happily using that.”
“We’ve adapted AM quite a lot. But even if you just took it off the shelf, most practices would improve from the day they bring it in.
“It was finding out about the possibilities that come with [AccountancyManager’s] Companies House integration. And the automated emails and the Client Portal. It made sense to stop our development and move to a solution that was ready-made and ready to go. AM was the right thing at the right time. It solved a lot of our issues off the shelf.”
The clincher? Switching on services – and those 64-8s again…
“That was when I thought ‘OK, they know what they’re doing, that’s the one!’”
“We were looking for a solution that would automatically email clients. So you ticked that box. Yes, other competitors did that, but we wanted the view that you’ve got, those tick boxes: do they want accounts? Do they want bookkeeping? Do they want VAT? And those start seamlessly setting up the tasks for us. So that was a major tick for us.”
“I’ll always remember watching a video and it said ‘you can get your 64-8s done automatically just by clicking this one button, it’ll go off… That was when I thought, ‘OK, they know what they’re doing, that’s the one!’.
“Something as fundamental as 64-8s and getting that right… it just proves that you’re for accountants.”
“A lot of your competitors, their solution might be perfect for another industry, but they’ve tried to adapt it for accountants. AM is the solution that’s built by accountants, for accountants – to make their lives easier.”
Our new Zapier integration: Live one week. In action at Boffix the next.
As soon as we release a new feature, Aaron and his team are all over it. We recently launched our Zapier integration and already Aaron has created ‘Zaps’ to sync information between AM and other software.
“We use AM to set up a new client. Then, as well as setting up our tasks, AccountancyManager talks to our other systems and gets them all going.”
“I’ve linked GoProposal and AccountancyManager. So as soon as a client signs a proposal, it automatically goes into AccountancyManager. Then, GoCardless will be told to send them an email to start paying us and QuickBooks needs to be notified that a new invoice needs to go out. We’ve got an e-store now too, where if you buy a QuickBooks licence from us, it will automatically tell AccountancyManager.”
“The Zapier integration is a great example of how you’ve got endless possibilities with what you can do with AccountancyManager.”
“The way we onboard has completely changed. We used to map it out in Visio, it was a horribly complicated procedure. At one point, we had three different calls with new clients. Now we’re down to one call to chat with them. It’s a much more condensed way of doing it. And that’s thanks to technology and thanks to having a database that we can rely on.”
“With AccountancyManager, GoCardless, GoProposal, and all of these things now talking to each other we can make a really slick system.”
A Client Portal with Boffix branding (no AccountancyManager in sight)
“We use the white labelling function, so we have our own Client Portal now… from a client’s point of view anyway!
“Clients don’t know who AccountancyManager is and I think that’s the right thing, because they want it to be Boffix.”
“It makes it inviting for clients. It’s a great addition. It was a no-brainer for us and we’ve been telling everyone [QuickBooks trainees] to get theirs done as well. It does look good. We’ve now got it redirected directly from our website and our e-store. It just makes it easier for the client doesn’t it?”
Goodbye Adobe Sign. Hello AM’s built-in e-signing.
“Another innovation is that we recently said, ‘Enough’s enough. We’re not sending work out to be signed using Adobe Sign anymore. We can’t spend all that time putting everything together.’ It was just wasting so much time. So we’ve just decided to make that switch.”
“It’s reduced sending things out from an hour to literally thirty seconds, to get something up into the portal and sent out.”
“The reason we’ve gone down that route now is because it’s a Boffix portal. We can customise it to make sure clients know that they’re dealing with us, their data is going to be safe.
Client Lists: Filter your clients in thousands of different ways
We recently wrote an article about all the things you can do with the Client List in AccountancyManager. For Aaron, these lists are crucial to running his practice and giving clients a more personalised experience.
“The database is just so powerful and inviting as well to put that data in.”
Run daily catch-ups and check for urgent issues
“Every single day, 10am on the dot, we all get together on Zoom and chat about the practice. We do all of that through AccountancyManager. We use the different views that you can generate. For example, we have our ‘urgent’ client list that we already have set up (bookmarked) to see any issues we need to worry about.”
Add extra fields to Client Files to create more lists
“We categorise our clients too. There are clients we call ‘elite’ or ‘diamond’. So we can bring those lists up. Or we can filter down to just our QuickBooks clients and we can then send an email. Or just our IRIS clients.
Generate a client list based on Target Dates
“We have lists based on target dates too. I think target dates was a huge, huge addition that didn’t get the praise it deserved. Now we can do a list based on when we want those accounts to be done for, not what the statutory requirement is.
Aaron’s super-fast rundown of AM’s other top time-saving features
Worn out from the excitement of Zapier, the Client Portal and Client Lists, Aaron quickly gave us his verdict on:
AML checks: “Just AML checks alone – that saves so much time. You used to have to give yourself 20 minutes prior to an AML call. Now you can press a button. You’re able to take the identity there and then, it’s just so much better. I wish we’d done that earlier, to be honest.
“You used to have to give yourself 20 minutes prior to an AML call to prepare. Now you press a button.”
Tasks: “What’s great for my team is, AccountancyManager is always there. Those tasks are set in stone. ‘I’ve got to get these tasks done by the end of today or the end of the week…’ or whatever their time frame is. It will always be a key part of their day-to-day.”
Timesheets: Moving our timesheets to AccountancyManager has been a huge benefit for the team. It’s part of the tasks that they’re already working on, so that works really well. They can see that diary view too. That’s an absolute game-changer for them. If they’ve posted six hours and they should’ve done seven. They can fill that gap. So it’s quicker and easier, but they’ve got that benefit too.”
Custom forms: We use these to send out the ITR checklist. And we can easily adapt them because they’re always changing. This year we had to put something on about SEIS, bitcoin, and cryptocurrency. We’re massive advocates of Custom Forms because it just gives us an opportunity to standardise those data collection points.
“The collection of data is something that’s far better than anything we’ve ever tried to implement before.”
“And the fact that it then lives in the Client Portal means that if we ever needed to, we could push back to the client and say, ‘look, this is information you gave us, it’s there in black and white’. So it protects us as well. We’ve got the audit trail and it’s all transparent.”
Aaron’s Confucius-esque advice for using AccountancyManager
“I have a lot of practices come to me for Quickbooks training and they ask ‘have you heard of AccountancyManager? We’re looking to implement it.’”
“You guys haven’t just decided overnight ‘let’s just throw this in and be done with it’. There is always a reason.
“My advice is, AccountancyManager has reasons for certain bits to be there. You may have to adapt your current approach in a small way for some things. But the reason they’ve done it is because it will make another part of the system work and it’ll give you more efficiencies in other places. When it comes to customisations and you understand what’s going on, then you’re able to really push it.”
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