The South African accounting market is rapidly evolving to meet demand from business owners. With cloud accounting packages rolling out in the last few years in this market, DoFin needed a solution that would work well with their new direction – advisory services. Because this way of working is in its infancy here, firm owner Jannie Schutte needed to find an innovative platform that would set him apart from competitors migrating into the advisory space.
Embracing Futrli has given Jannie the opportunity to help clients visualise their businesses like never before. This shift in focus to advisory is serving clients better and keeping the firm relevant in a busy market. The team are working in real-time, which helps clients be proactive in business. KPIs are keeping clients on track, and monthly reporting helps everyone monitor the given business’ progression.
Now Jannie is a trailblazer in the advisory space. He’s helping clients from a range of backgrounds to be more successful. His client retention is better than ever, as clients are really understanding their businesses. Signing up for Futrli Advisory Certification, Jannie is now mastering the platform and becoming one of the first Futrli certified advisors in the evolving South African market.
Interview in full
How is the accounting industry in South Africa changing?
If you look at accounting firms overseas you’ll see where everything is going. Compliance is no longer the only service you can render, becoming a smaller part of accounting. Soon you won’t be able to be relevant just keeping your clients compliant – you have to give them more. Clients will start asking you a lot more questions as you become part of their business so it does get harder, but also more exciting. It’s a mind-shift on both sides.
These days you have to add something to a client’s business they can’t get elsewhere, or they’ll leave you. In other countries, it’s more the norm, but some accounting firms in South Africa still report back on the year that’s been. Looking forwards, or at least monthly insights into a client’s business is what’s making firms stand out now.
And how is that impacting the way you work at DoFin?
Xero really started to kick off in 2016 in South Africa – it’s still in its infant shoes. We started looking what we could add on to that, to give a better experience to our clients. We wanted to offer value-added services. It was only 3 or 4 months ago we started using Futrli and something just clicked.
We can offer an additional value-adding service, which then forces everyone to work in real-time. Every month all our clients’ accounting transactions are up to date, they can expect a monthly report highlighting the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for their business. Everyone knows exactly what’s happening, client and advisor are all on the same page – it just makes sense. Futrli is forcing us in a way to keep everything up to date because if client’s records aren’t up to date, the monthly report isn’t going to mean anything.
How have you found working with Futrli helps you?
You can compile reports for different clients, the way you want it and you just create it once, so you really can go into the detail and create dashboards according to what the clients want to see and then each month update and tweak it a bit. It makes it very easy to do monthly reporting with a click of a button. It’s also a nice easy way for the clients to understand their businesses more, without having to use too much accountancy language. We got some nice feedback from our clients when we started sending them these reports.
Other accountants are catching on just as quickly and in a year’s time, it’s not going to be a selling point to use cloud accounting software. You have to stay in front of the queue, innovate in the ways you service your clients. Across the board, we use Receipt Bank, Xero and Futrli because they’re great for any kind of business.
How has the cloud transformed your client meetings?
We start with simple metrics to create a profit and loss report for clients. If we’re talking about a restaurant we’ll focus on Gross Profit, which is very important for them, for example. We will draw up a couple of graphs of 12 months’ GP or something, get to the point of showing them how they can start monitoring and understanding their business more. Sometimes clients say their bank statement doesn’t reflect their profit. We can show them why this has happened with a nice graph. They can see for example, that the movement between debtors and creditors has an influence on your bank balance. The reports are also compiled in a way that makes it easy for the business owner to understand and track certain aspects over any given time.
Clients need books that are live, to the point they can see yesterday’s sales or what’s going to happen in a week’s time if you continue like this. That’s why we try and have that initial chat, to show them that this makes sense to their business. Once they get it, it’s something they realise they can’t do without in the future. It ensures client retention.
You’ve just begun our advisory certification course – what are your initial thoughts on it?
Once I signed up with Futrli, I started certification immediately. I got about halfway through then I started using Futrli alongside it. Using the platform will help with the progress of certification, and vice versa.
It works very nicely – it gives you insight into how you can approach your clients, how to approach that mind-shift. I think that’s the most important thing, to get your clients to buy into it. When I finish it that’ll be a nice thing to put on my CV as I think I’m one of the few in South Africa who has finished that course. I can work through it and use it to my advantage going forward, especially as I’m one of the first while everyone catches up.