Thorne Widgery retain education sector clients with Futrli reporting
The Thorne Widgery team are big Xero and cloud advocates but needed software to aide the added value and differentiator to their services. Clients needed to connect with their data in a more meaningful way and be able to see the impact of non-financial data on their bottom line. Internally, the team are problem solvers but needed an extra push to master the things their clients were asking for.
Signing up to Futrli, the whole team are adding value to clients. They are now able to show their clients clear progression through dashboards, connections are being made between trends and opportunities are being identified. The firm’s focus on the education and academies sector has been improved with Futrli’s flexible and customisable reporting capabilities. White labelling and certification have helped the team provide more well-rounded services.
Since white labelling, clients are visualising their data in a clearer way. Their data is easier to interpret in colourful, graphical presentations. For the firm, completing Futrli Advisory Certification has helped managers identify who within Thorne Widgery might need some additional training to add even more value to their clients.
Interview in full
Tell us a bit about Thorne Widgery
We’re a firm of about 45 employees comprising Chartered Accountants and other specialists in our offices in Hereford and Ludlow and are big Xero advocates. We felt that our clients needed to be able to see their progress clearly and visually, which was not possible using Xero reporting alone.
A lot of clients value the enhanced service we’re giving and also ask for more of the same. The benefits to the client of us having all their data means we can link everything in a visual way, giving them the complete picture in a way that helps them understand the information and remove accountancy jargon.
What made you choose Futrli?
We knew about Futrli because of the Xero ecosystem and it was the best solution for what we needed. We were looking for something that would enable us to do flexible reporting and forecasting. One of the big selling points was the fact it’s 3-way forecasting, which enables us to genuinely analyse cashflow. Also, we were getting a lot of requests to discuss non-financial data, which Futrli can help us achieve.
What kind of businesses do you work with?
We have a broad mix of clients and a few niche sectors, the biggest of which is the education sector which needs a lot of reporting. When we start showing them charts and pie charts in Futrli they’re blown away. One key thing in this sector, in particular, is consolidation, where the business will comprise of a group of schools, known as a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) and each one will have its own data set. Each of these will need to be consolidated, which is where we come into our own with Futrli.
For example, one of our clients used to have five different data sets and it would take two or three days just to put them all together in Excel. Now they literally just have to refresh and it’s done. It’s hugely time-saving.
Give us another example of Futrli working for your clients?
There’s a group of five schools and one has had a new heating system. They spent a lot of money on it and wanted to compare its efficiencies to the other schools using the older system. We took the square footage of all the indoor areas of each school and then divided the heating cost by square footage to see the cost per square foot.
They can now benchmark each of the schools against each other. It’s proven that the new system isn’t actually as efficient as the others, so they’ve gone back to the suppliers with this evidence. It was found that something wasn’t right with the system, so they have fixed it. It’s a real positive from just reporting. It’s something we hadn’t quite appreciated – we’re now doing a lot of consultancy for this sector, and this is another benefit to the solution we can offer. It’s brilliant. Futrli has helped us open a lot of doors.
How has Futrli helped your everyday operations?
In terms of referrals, Futrli has definitely helped as it’s enhanced our suite of tools. With our smaller clients, we move them onto Xero by default. As part of the conversation, we also talk about enhanced reporting packages. We’ve steered away from using the same KPIs for each client as they have a different chart of accounts. We spend more time on bespoke reports because they’re more relevant to the clients and enhance the relationship.
What made you decide to white label the Futrli platform?
For us, the biggest win for white labelling is being able to choose the colour scheme. We’ve picked as many different colours as possible to contrast the charts. It really helps differentiate things for clients – especially if they’re colour blind! We can distinguish graphs a lot easier.
What did you think of Futrli Advisory Certification?
I’ve completed certification – it wasn’t that easy! When I did it, I realised some of our team needed to do the training. Some of our staff are using Futrli well but I think certification will help them to understand the intricacies of the platform. The fact there are helpful suggestions such as marketing advisory, has helped us work out the best way for us to promote it.
Has the course changed anything about how Thorne Widgery operates?
As more members of staff complete the certification, commencing with Foundation level; we then focus on specialising, one person may concentrate on reporting modules and another may focus on specialising in forecasting, etc.
We also have a relatively new bookkeeping service, which we add value to with the PDF reports builder. They can have the conversation with the consultant and find out why takings are up or down, which differentiates us from other firms’ offerings. That involves a lot of non-financial data, which is lacking in other practices. We love to find solutions to problems.
Sum up the best part of Futrli for you in a few words?
Clarity is the best thing. The ability to isolate and hone in on silos of data, as opposed to having to look at everything. That’s the biggest thing – identifying things that normally may have got lost and put them into the mix.
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