If only we could see into the future! For our debut Back Room Accounting Offshoring Show, Scott Findlay, Director at The Back Room, talks to Ric Thorpe from Sidekick Group about innovating in the accountancy industry. Rick is a partner of Sidekick Group, that have 8 offices across the South Island.
Ric and Scott discuss the importance of innovation, how The Back Room supports Sidekick Group, why culture is important and predictions for the industry. Read on for a breakdown of the highlights.
Listen to the full podcast here:
Innovation in accountancy
Innovating is a necessity in today’s world. Ric discusses how the accounting industry is changing on a daily basis due to technology, software and globalisation.
COVID-19 has also helped to advance different practices of communicating with clients, particularly video meetings, that in the past would have scared away many clients. If businesses, including accountants, don’t innovate, and have people within the organisation who are focussed on innovation, they will fall behind.
How does The Back Room help Sidekick to innovate?
Ric’s view is that The Back Room is part of the Sidekick team, “we don’t look at this as outsourcing or subcontracting – the team includes The Back Room in the Philippines”.
How does this help? In the past large accountancy firms would hire graduates to work 55 hour weeks where they would spend their time crunching numbers in a back office, all for the privilege of working for a big firm.
Now, when Sidekick hires graduates, they are immediately assigned a team member in the Philippines to work with them. The graduates learn how to delegate and add value to their clients, while The Back Room do the processing. Graduates now spend their time guiding clients in the best use of Xero and how to make efficiencies.
And this applies not just to the graduates, it also applies to senior accountants. Ten years ago, there weren’t enough hours in the day and senior accountants did everything from coding for GST and management of all the numbers to meeting clients and advising and helping them with their business. Now, with the help of The Back Room, they are able to focus where there is real value added.
Requests from clients are also changing. Instead of requesting that their accountants just produce the end of year tax return, they are asking questions such as; How can I have my finger on the pulse more? What can I do to my business today? COVID-19 taught our clients that they need to business plan, have action points, a cashflow forecast and management plans. Working with The Back Room gives them the capacity to work with their clients in these areas.
How does working with The Back Room affect quality?
Ric comments that quality is not a problem they face. As The Back Room are considered to be part of the team, there are protocols in place to make sure that quality meets expectations. The team at The Back Room are also well trained and everything is checked more than once.
What about workplace culture?
Connecting global talent and creating a strong culture is very important to The Back Room when working with clients. Scott comments that Sidekick have embraced this and asks Ric how they have done that.
Ric comments that when talking about culture he always thinks of Peter Drucker’s famous quote “culture eats strategy for breakfast”, and that culture is the most important thing for Sidekick. They have a huge focus on team and that naturally spreads to the team in Philippines. They are all experts in Zoom, Slack, messaging – and these tools mean that they may as well be sat in the same room! Sidekick already have 8 different offices so the team is big and dispersed, it really doesn’t matter that one of those offices is in the Philippines. The caring culture at Sidekick was highlighted by the fact that the team in New Zealand have been considering the team in Philippines, who have been in lockdown a lot lately.
What are Ric’s predictions on the future of accountancy?
Ric says that the future of accountancy really depends on what is defined as accountancy. Accountants are not business advisors, but equally accountancy needs to be more than just crunching numbers. It needs to provide more than the best set of financials. There is a need to sit down and help clients to get the information they require from these figures, have a conversation with them and suggest changes to the business based on the figures. The human element of accountancy needs to be better valued – it’s about helping clients to drive business improvement from the numbers. Lower-level compliance is also likely to become automated in next few years.
When we are going to go through significant change, working well as a team becomes important, including the wider team in the Philippines. Technology is advancing fast, but there is still the human element.
Find out more
If you are considering off-shoring and would like to discuss this more with The Back Room, give us a call.