FUTRLI Helps Aptus Change the Game & Be the Firm That SMEs Deserve

Posted on 23rd January 2017 in Customer Stories

Written by James Marren

James Solomons, Director and Co-founder of Aptus Accounting & Advisory and Head of Accounting for Xero, explains how FUTRLI (pronounced Future-lee) has helped him build an accounting and advisory practice that gives his clients genuine value and the confidence to grow their business.

Hear their story

Aptus Accounting & Advisory is a Sydney based firm that’s redefining the relationship between a client and their accountant.

The firm was founded in January 2015 by James Solomons and Rebecca Mihalic, both Chartered Accountants and respected Xero experts. The pair came together as they had a shared passion for helping businesses grow and a mutual belief that accountancy firms should focus on adding real value to their clients by working with them as their advisor.

“Our founding principle is to connect clients with everything they need to succeed,” says James. “Technology has given accountants a way to take care of the heavy lifting and focus on adding genuine value to clients. No platform has helped our profession in that regard as intelligently as FUTRLI, it’s just so slick for us and the client.”

What is the attraction of FUTRLI?

A major attraction for Aptus was FUTRLI’ ability to offer automated real-time reporting data – which they use to remain on top of any sudden changes or shifts in a client’s financial status.

“Automation and complete customisation is why FUTRLI is head and shoulders above the other tools out there,” explains James. “There’s no fiddly import and export process with data, FUTRLI syncs automatically, daily, so what we are getting is a live ‘scorecard’.

“We have notifications set up so if a client starts moving into a red zone with their cash flow we are alerted as it happens and can address the issue before it gets critical. We can then instantly pick the phone up and chat it over. That was simply impossible before. You’d find out at the end of a month or quarter when it was too late.”

This ability to offer clients ‘continuous engagement’ has not only strengthened the relationship between Aptus and their clients but they say it has also been a factor in winning new business.  

Was it hard to transition your clients to an advisory based service?

“Many small businesses aren’t aware this kind of insight is possible,” says James. “Once we show them what we can do it’s a real eye-opener. It excites them as it gives them the confidence someone is there constantly looking out for them.”

James shared a story of one of their clients: “One client we started tracking without him actually knowing. We connected him to the platform, set some Alerts and we rang him [when were automatically alerted] that he was going below some pretty standard business benchmarks. After showing him that data, he wanted to know what else we could do. We explained that we could be meeting with him regularly, sharing discussing his business, making projections with forecasts etc. By changing the conversation we were managed to increase our revenue from this compliance client by 84%.”

Why make the change in the first place? 

Australia, like many advanced economies, is making cuts to business red tape and bureaucracy, meaning that the revenue from compliance services is under pressure like never before and accounting firms are having to diversify their revenue streams and look for new efficient income generating opportunities.

“Compliance is being commoditised,” explains James. “So accountants have to spread their wings. We founded Aptus because we believe that advisory is what SMEs are and have always been looking for, but previously accountants could never deliver advisory services to SMEs at an affordable price point. Xero and Xero’s practice tools drive efficiency in providing compliance services and FUTRLI extends Xero and makes real-time or ‘anytime’ advisory possible. So we can spend time adding value in areas like forecasting and scenario planning, making us valued partners, rather than just number crunchers.”

Are you seeing growth?

“Absolutely! The opportunities become endless because clients are constantly engaging us saying, they need to fix this, or improve that, and the FUTRLI platform is helping sell our expertise. The beauty of that is they go and tell their friends about it and so new potential clients are coming directly to us asking for what they’ve got.”

What aspect of FUTRLI do your clients want the most?

One of the most popular aspects of FUTRLI for Aptusclients is the ease of forecasting and scenario planning. Processes that would once have taken days or weeks can now be done with a few clicks.

“With Excel or other tools, forecasting is just a list of numbers and time consuming to get even that,” says James. “With FUTRLI we can produce clear visual scenarios for clients and offer multiple scenarios – demonstrating what they need to be doing each day, week or month to achieve their business goals. It makes a huge difference to SMEs and gives them the confidence they need to succeed. They can see their business, what happens if they do or don’t make tweaks, in one, easy and visually descriptive view.”

“When I came across FUTRLI it was the first time since Xero launched that I’ve genuinely thought ‘Wow this has changed the game’. It allows us to be the accountancy firm we want to be and SMEs deserve.”

So, any final advice for others in your industry?

“Well, the accountant that just does tax is going to find that small businesses, and business owners, and even medium and larger businesses, are wanting that real-time data. They want predictive analytics to help them see where their business is going and quite honestly, if they don’t move onto using FUTRLI to provide that, then they’re going to get left behind.”

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