Fashioned in 2011 by Georgi Rollins, Starfish Accounting delight themselves on being approachable, pleasant —- and positively not stuffy. Primarily based in Berkshire, the staff includes 9 girls and, whereas they’ve a various mixture of shoppers, the agency has a specific give attention to serving to female-run companies. “I believe we now have a extremely good understanding of a number of the challenges that numerous our shoppers undergo,” says Georgi. “Now we have numerous conversations with folks about how they’ll get extra help to assist with their work life steadiness, or tips on how to cope with maternity pay. Shoppers really feel comfy to ask us sure issues that perhaps they wouldn’t if we had been a bit extra fusty, quaint and male dominated.”
Giving the appropriate help is an entire lot simpler because of Xero — which they adopted in 2012. “I had a play with a little bit of on-line accounting software program that certainly one of my shoppers used, which was a horrible little bit of software program, however I actually favored the cloud-based side of it. Then anyone advisable Xero, and so we signed up and have by no means regarded again. That was top-of-the-line enterprise choices we made.”
Click on right here to look at Starfish’s story, or learn her tricks to create an environment friendly follow.
Tip #1: Embrace know-how to make VAT returns a breeze
With the subsequent stage of Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT imminent, many accountants wish to digitalise their VAT course of, however Starfish made the swap lengthy earlier than it turned a requirement. “I at all times hated coping with VAT returns as a result of they’re simply massive, unwieldy, clunky issues,” says Georgi. “So we switched to coping with VAT digitally very early on.”
One of many largest ache factors of getting shoppers on spreadsheets in addition to on Xero was getting maintain of cohesive, dependable knowledge to finish the return. “The largest aggro was making an attempt to verify the info was correct and full. You then discover a suspicious line merchandise and you need to shuffle via an infinite sheaf of papers to attempt to discover any backup.”
The staff at Starfish now do all of their shoppers’ VAT returns via Xero. “When MTD for VAT initially got here in for companies who had been above the VAT registration threshold, it was a helpful lever for us to encourage shoppers to maneuver to Xero who had been beforehand reluctant to take action,” says Georgi. “And we made the choice at that time to not deal with individuals who had been beneath the VAT registration threshold any in another way, so we registered all of our VAT registered shoppers for MTD for VAT.”
Submitting VAT returns on-line via Xero not solely ensures shoppers are MTD-compliant, it additionally makes the method fast, simple and seamless by streamlining all the follow workflow. “On the info integrity and the info enter facet of issues, there’s an infinite array of instruments inside Xero that make life simpler — like money coding, and discover and recode,” says Georgi. “After which there’s the performance that sits inside the VAT return in Xero. We use the HQ VAT part to maintain an eye fixed out for which returns must be filed. You possibly can run the VAT return as a report for various intervals as effectively.”
Tip #2: Develop your advisory companies by automating administration duties
With Xero taking good care of numerous the mundane duties, Starfish can think about the enterprise advisory facet of their service. “Automating the admin duties is certainly an enormous time saver, however I believe extra importantly, it helps us to do a greater job as a result of we’re not simply sitting there asking ‘have we acquired an attachment for this?’” says Georgi. “There’s all types of various issues that we are able to spend a bit extra time on now that we’re not frantically simply clobbering collectively the info.”
Even shoppers who had been initially sceptical are impressed by the advantages. “After we’ve moved folks throughout to Xero who’ve beforehand used spreadsheets and spent many many hours placing collectively the data, they’ll’t consider how a lot simpler it’s,” she says. “On the finish of the day, the shoppers need to be sure that their compliance necessities are taken care of, however they don’t get excited a few VAT return or a tax return or a set of accounts. What they need is to have a relationship with an accountant who’s there as a enterprise advisor, to allow them to ask questions and perceive what the affect may be of paying again a mortgage early or organising a brand new location or no matter it may be. They need the compliance stuff to occur within the background, taking as little time as attainable.”
Xero has helped take the ache out of the busy January and VAT season. “I used to get to the tip of January pondering I ought to be capable of ease off, however I’d nonetheless have all these VAT returns due that had been going to take me ages and it felt actually anxious,” shares Georgi. Now, Xero helps her get forward of the sport and unfold the workload all through the staff.
“Seven of us work on VAT returns. It’s a lot simpler from a collaborative perspective. Considered one of my staff can put together a VAT return and I can go in and run a report. I can drill down into one thing and ping them over a query. We’re in a position to have these a number of contact factors with out it being troublesome.”
Driving effectivity to create a more healthy work-life steadiness
By saving time, spreading the load and streamlining workflows, the entire staff has a greater work-life steadiness. “We’re very cautious to handle folks’s workload in order that they’re in a position to take a while out. We function a versatile and hybrid working model,” Georgi provides.
For accountants nonetheless utilizing spreadsheets for VAT, Georgi has one easy piece of recommendation: “Make the swap to Xero! Should you’re nonetheless utilizing spreadsheets and bridging software program, you’re spending extra time on a given activity than you actually need to and producing one thing that’s not the identical worth of output” she says. “It’s such a no brainer.”
For extra sources to help your shoppers with the subsequent section of MTD, try our Sources Hub in addition to our new associate information which outlines many efficiencies that your follow can entry via Xero.