New Firm Savvy CFO Upskills with FUTRLI Advisory Certification
Posted on 13th October 2017 in Customer Stories
Written by Freya Hughes
Moving to Hobart, Tasmania, recently meant a big change for former financial manager/investment analyst Nicolette Quinn. Already a CA, CFA Charterholder, Xero certified advisor and yoga teacher, she’s just completed the FUTRLI certification course too. Opening the doors to her new firm, Savvy CFO, Nicolette is now working the way she wants to. We caught up to discuss all things advisory, how to win and nurture clients, and what she thought of the FUTRLI Advisory Certification course.
Savvy CFO is a brand new practice – what’s the goal with it?
I’m currently a ‘one-woman show’ and FUTRLI allows me to run my business in very online virtual way. There’s a huge gap in the market that exists in this forward-looking financial space and what makes Savvy CFO a bit different is that it’s built entirely to be future-focused. I love the forward-focus of FUTRLI and couldn’t have set up Savvy CFO without it. It gives me the tools to have the scale and the productivity to actually make my firm viable.
Who are the clients you’re now working with?
I’ve landed up in this amazing community because there are so many independent businesses. I’ve never been to somewhere with so few chain stores! I’m essentially targeting small owner-managed businesses and entrepreneurs – as they don’t have the financial support and can’t afford it on a full-time basis. I try to translate their dream and vision of the business into numbers. When I’ve told people what I’m about, they jump on it.
My clients are a mix: a digital marketing company that does social media management for clients, tourism, a yoga business, and a not-for-profit. They’re all very open to the way I work.
So which KPIs do you measure for your clients?
I love that FUTRLI allows me to incorporate non-financial data. For the yoga studio I can measure things like class attendance, and have scenarios around that moving forward. As another example, profitability by client is crucial to understand for my digital marketing client.
Once I’ve spent some time understanding their business, I find things that resonate with them – what they want to manage and drive going forward. So usually two or three operational metrics, and two or three financial metrics; it becomes overwhelming if you have too much to measure.
And which KPIs do you measure in your firm?
I measure client referrals and profitability by client. It allows me to understand whether my fixed monthly fee model is working and what the return in my time is.
How do you conduct your client meetings?
I go out to meet my clients at their place of work, because it gives me more insight into how they run things, and I want them to feel at ease and more relaxed. Prior to seeing them I get access to Xero, so I can prep for that initial meeting. This means I arrive with some understanding of the numbers so when they start talking about their business I can connect the dots.
I want to get clients to see how the numbers can help them with decision making, and try to translate their vision and their ideas for the business into a strategic plan.
I share what the numbers are saying, which gets them more comfortable, trusting the numbers and the insights they give. I try to simplify things to just what matters for the client so we hone into the right focus areas from the start.
Has the advisory model changed your fees?
I want to break that mould of traditional hourly billing, because clients don’t know what they’re in for. I am following a set monthly fee model so they’ll have an initial three month sign up. With a fixed monthly amount, the business owners don’t get a surprise at the end of the year or month, they know how much to plan for.
I also bill in advance. There is a behavioural science study by Dan Ariely saying that separating the payments and the service means you enjoy the service more! It’s like when the bill arrives at the end of your fantastic dinner it makes you feel a bit less happy, but if you’d pre-paid for that dinner, you’d have loved it even more!
If we switched FUTRLI off, what would you miss the most and why?
My workload would skyrocket because it would be done in Excel. The selling point for me with FUTRLI is the focus on cash flow forecasting and the ability to use non-financial data as operational drivers.
Without FUTRLI, day-to-day tasks would probably take 10 times longer!
How did you find the FUTRLI Advisory Certification course?
Certification was so much more comprehensive than I was expecting, because Xero certification is more general so you don’t necessarily have to give it your full attention. But I actually had to focus! Going through the practical exercises and answering the quiz questions reinforced the learning.
I came out of FUTRLI Certification thinking this isn’t just a piece of paper – I actually have some skills coming out of it that I didn’t have before.
The course would be really valuable for accountants that are trying to transition from a traditional accounting firm to advisory.
When you grow will you make staff do certification?
They would have to do it otherwise they can’t do their job! I would definitely recommend firms around the world do FUTRLI certification.
What was your favourite part of the course?
My favourite was the scenario and forecasting section. When you’re translating what a client dreams about their business into the numbers, that’s really powerful and valuable. I was also surprised about how much there was on setting up for the sales process side – I wasn’t expecting that and found it very useful.
Do you have any advice for anyone getting onto the cloud?
Stay curious about how businesses create and deliver value to their clients. Get out there and engage with business owners as much as possible because businesses aren’t run in a spreadsheet! So much of this way of working is getting out and engaging with real business owners because that’s where you learn, and if you get into advisory that’s also where you learn how you can help: What are the frustrations they’re facing? How can they make life easier for their clients? How can you make life easier for your clients? There are solutions – the more you see, the more experience you build up. So, get out of the spreadsheet!