Rebels With a Cause! Illumin8 Accountants Help Clients Seek Positive Change with FUTRLI Forecasting
Posted on 25th May 2017 in Customer Stories
Written by Freya Hughes
Andrew Van De Beek has been an accountant for a decade now, and he is Director of innovative firm Illumin8, which opened in May 2012. Specialising in SME business advisory services, cloud software, tax planning, outsourced financial management roles, and business efficiency consulting, the firm has grown steadily since opening. Andrew recognises the need to move away from traditional practice, and focuses his attention on ethical, reliable and genuine relationships with clients. He has a keen interest in working with new businesses and original ideas, providing solid advisory services to help clients achieve their aims. We spoke to Andrew to find out how FUTRLI has helped him run his firm and how he approaches all new clients with total transparency.
How did Illumin8 get started with FUTRLI?
We use FUTRLI as a result of the value we receive for it personally – we always try things ourselves and won’t recommend something that we wouldn’t use. We started off quite on and off with it as we never had the time to get to know it properly. In those early days, I had one client that I just had to use the tool for. We then got really heavily involved in it and saw the benefits of it really quickly. I built three forecasts with multiple variables, and we had four dashboards we could show clients. Coming from that, I use the forecasting side of FUTRLI a lot. I’m now running day sessions with clients to discuss their budget, and show them reports where we can track their KPIs as we go forward. We’ve got a few on a regular basis where we can identify problem areas and begin to understand the meaning behind their numbers.
Being able to have a snapshot of where you’re at, and where you could actually be through forecasting, and actually being able to reflect on what that looks like compared to your prior information as well, is so valuable to us.
Tell us about how you introduce clients to FUTRLI
In our first client meetings, we don’t actually talk about accounting. We spend the hour getting to know them and understanding who they are. I draw a graph on the board say, ‘this is where your business starts and ends’. I ask a lot of questions about their personal and professional futures. We then get them to draw a cross on the graph to say where they think they’re at. Then we’ll unpack it and ask how they operate and why. At some point in the meeting, I’ll get up and put my own cross on the graph and say, ‘this is where I see you positioned right now’. Clients may be ahead of where they thought, or think they’re doing really well when there’s a lot of opportunity they’re missing out on.
And what makes them believe in your services?
After the initial meeting, we ask if we can spend an entire day with the client. That day is spent unpacking, in detail, the why and what and so on. We’ll spend the morning really getting to grips with the value of what they do. We’re getting to the point where we’re starting to do more accurate profiling on the clients that we want to work with. Then in the afternoon we get down to the financial side of things. We keep it friendly, have lunch, and get to understand the business. We then start pulling up FUTRLI and start comparing forecasting to actuals, identify the key drivers (eg return on wages) and get as much detail as we can. It’s been a really great way of operating for us as we have variety in our clients and can help people from all different backgrounds achieve their goals.
Who are your clients and who are you hoping to work with?
Typically we look for four key profiles. One is property, whether you’re buying, selling, developing; the second are creative individuals in marketing, graphic design, photography, film, etc. Or it could be people who are doing things a bit differently. Then we’ve got young entrepreneurs. We want to work with people that have ideas, then help them identify, and go through, the necessary steps to get the idea off the ground. The fourth one is one we can’t forget: people going through growth and maturing their business. They might be ready to sell it after 30 years, for example. That’s also a key market where we can come and add value. They ask us, ‘I want to sell this company, how can I get the most value out of it?’
How do you get your clients to understand FUTRLI?
I show clients my own FUTRLI dashboard, which shows them how I run my business. They transparently see my numbers and targets – which is a little bit scary at times – and I think they connect to the fact that I’m using it myself. They trust me more as they’re my numbers and I’m not afraid to show them. It’s always a really easy conversation. I can even show them a decision I had made three months back to hire someone and can show clients how that affected everything via the reports.
Have any of your clients really bonded with the software?
I’ve got one client at the moment who is going through some venture capital investigations, so we’ve been going back and forth and having meetings with them. We built a forecast so we can see what everything will look like over the next three years and then we have a conversation. Out of that conversation a lot of things change, so I just jump onto FUTRLI and edit some of the key numbers that we’ve identified. It then pushes out those projections again.
Has using FUTRLI helped you collaborate with others?
What’s really great for me is I don’t have to spend hours and hours to redo these things. So in the meetings with venture capital people, we can put FUTRLI up on a screen and say this is where the business stands, and where it’s going, and they can look at it. It gives an air of legitimacy, and shows we know what we’re doing with nice looking reports and it’s all really professional.
What’s your favourite feature of FUTRLI?
It allows us to give insights to clients where previously it was not available. I love the snapshots – there’s just a little line that says where you stand and where you should be with your budget. It’s a really easy way to show a client how we’re tracking all of their data, and we use it too so we’re constantly engaging with our own figures as well.