We all know that advisory is shaking up the industry - we’ve heard the phrase a hundred times. We could ramble on for hours about the benefits for you and your clients. But it’s not often that we look to the firms taking the plunge, even though they’re one of the best sources of information for us. So we sat down with Ambrosiussen, a successful accountancy firm from Toowoomba, Australia.
What’s their story?
Before Peter opened his practice in 1985, he’d been working for an International Shipping company in their management services department. They were employing the innovative idea of using computers (which as Peter points out, were very new things at the time) to get management accounting information to make their business decisions.
Little did he know that this would transpire into the heart and soul of his accounting firm years later. But he did know that it worked - “I saw accounting making huge decisions to really benefit a company. Which ships could we buy? Before, I hadn’t known a question like that could be answered so quickly”
Fast forward to five years ago, and Peter has long since opened his own accounting practice when he runs into our CEO, Hannah and she introduces him to Futrli. “I saw all the computing that I’d worked in, here in one software program. Even in the early days, I could see it was going to do a lot. We were one of the first to take it up”
What are their clients’ favourite features
“We make profits,” one of Peter’s clients says to him one day, “but we can’t get any cash”.
“So we’re using Futrli to budget for them”, explains Peter “After they get their salaries after all their taxes and debts are paid, we’ve made sure they’ve still got a certain amount left.
We’ve got a budget that’s tracking that, with their actuals and other key drivers, growth profit margin, their sales pipeline. The owners have grabbed at it and they’re killing the budget. We’re using daily updates for them and thanks to the Futrli to Xero synchronisation they update automatically. They’re over the moon”
His partner Sam chimes in, “One feature that my clients really love is that we can set up a dashboard for each relevant member of their staff so they can only see the information that they have responsibility for. We can set the budget overall and then filter through to live information for each relevant staff member, who can simply open their phone and see their budget. It helps with giving their team targets as well as ownership. It’s much better feedback for their staff.”
Advisory can sometimes be tarnished as just “more work” for a firm’s team - how has Ambrosiussen handled this?
“We’ve got a very clear core purpose which is to empower business owners to achieve their goals and standing with them through thick and thin.” Peter, Sam and the team pride themselves on their proactive wave of working and the work they're doing with businesses.
“All our staff embrace that and so they’re always looking for ways to add value. When you engage with a client throughout a process and take the time to go through it with them, you both get a better outcome”
“When a client rings up, it may be something along the lines of “how do I finance this particular asset?” We don’t just say “we have these options”. We say “Hmm, that’s interesting, I’m curious as to why you want to buy this piece of machinery” and then we take the conversations from there and work out how we can do that. We always look at how we can add value to those interactions.”
How did you find converting your clients, pricing-wise?
Pricing your services can be a difficult subject to know when and how to breach. Especially when you’re selling your services from a standpoint of trying to help, but still needing to be paid. Ambrosiussen have found their strategy to be very successful.
“We work on a value-cost model. So we start by having a conversation with the client, we treat each client as an individual. We want to find out:
- What it is they’re trying to achieve
- What challenges it is they’re facing
- What are the pain points they have in their business
And then we’ll talk about how those objectives can be achieved with various services. So that from the clients perspective, they’re not looking at it as a cost, they’re looking at it as return on investment. We encourage them to go away and think about it. And we make sure we’ve agreed their fees early on.”
What’s the biggest benefit you’ve seen for your team?
Peter jumped in straight away. “The beauty of Futrli is that it cuts back our man-hours, significantly. We used to use a lot of spreadsheets and it took a lot of time to keep them running. Futrli has enabled us to unlock more value for our clients because we can operate more efficiently and can give them information a lot more timely. Before, doing monthly reporting was too expensive, but now we can do it for a lot of our clients and it’s of really good value.”
Anything you can do to improve the efficiency of your work processes can be converted into time dedicated to your clients. This is how many of our partners handle the move to advisory. It may seem like you’re taking on a huge load of work but, you’ll also be saving time on your compliance services.
Sam agrees, saying “It makes the job much more fulfilling because the client really values the face to face contact. They don’t care about how long it took you to reconcile or transpose or anything like that. From a nuts and bolts perspective, that’s where I see it as most rewarding.”
Have you done our certification? What do you think?
Peter laughs and reminds us of his early-adopter status. “We were using Futrli before the certification even existed! So we were partially self-taught, although we did have training sessions at the start to get us going.” Ambrosiussen have seen us through a number of changes and updates (they didn’t even know us as Futrli to start!). “But the certification we’ve done since and it’s been great. There are tons of things we can do now that we didn’t know we could do.”
Sam highlights the issues he tends to have with moves to new technology. “I think the certification is a very thorough program. You can’t just turn up and pass it without learning it and doing it. To pass, you actually need to understand what’s going on. Not only with the accountancy, but also the technology.”
There are tons of reasons to upskill your team. If you’re wanting to move with the time, investing in your team is just as important as investing in technology.
What are your goals for the future?
“I think we’ve been working hard trying to get much more timely information to our clients. I think the constant syncing helps clients really get closer from their perspective. Working with clients on a monthly basis has become affordable and something we can invest in, so that’s now worth a lot of value. Nipping things in the bud, quickly with clients, is now a possibility. And they’re engaging a lot more.” Peter speaks briefly about the large amount of additional work they acquire through investing more time in speaking to their clients.
“What we’re about is trying to get change with our clients, helping them move to secure their goals. And if we can add value on a monthly basis, that speeds up that process. Whereas before, there were time constraints to our way of working, economically it wasn’t viable. So I think the changes in the last two years, with Futrli, has allowed us to do that. The clients love it, we love it and it increases our revenue!”
You can check out Ambrossiussen and find out more about the services they offer here.