Accounting Firm Management
We get a lot of questions (often from other accountants) about how we run the administrative side of our business. So, to share our knowledge, here is accounting firm management 101 with Aintree Group…
We were a paperless and cloud-based business before many others in the industry caught on. And we’ve been using marketing and communications strategies long before it was the “done thing” in the accounting world.
We also made a conscious decision at the outset, that we would hire locally wherever possible and we would not outsource our operations overseas.
Our internal operations have been forged and refined over fifteen years. We always look to adapt and grow, but also to share our knowledge and experience with others to help them do the same.
Often smaller firms don’t consider systems and processes until they’ve outgrown themselves, and that’s where things get really complicated.
So we’ve broken down our process into key elements, to give you an idea of how a small accounting firm can manage all the moving parts involved! All of these systems are accessible, no matter how big or small your business. They are affordable, scalable and cloud-based, so they don’t require a big investment in infrastructure or maintenance.
Our App Stack
Automated, integrated systems are what makes our entire operation possible.
- AccountKit – Mail register, PD register, Bookkeeping and Accounting Tools
- ATOMate – ATO Correspondence
- Business Fitness – Smart Workpapers
- CAS360 – Corporate Compliance
- Cashflow Story – Client reporting, benchmarking and KPI’s
- Chaser – Debtor management software
- Email Signature Rescue – Email Signatures
- Employment Hero – HR Management
- FuseSign – Electronic signing
- FYI Docs – Document Management / Workflow / Timesheets / Templates / Knowledge
- Hootsuite – Social Media Scheduling & Analytics
- Hubdoc – Document collection and management
- Hubspot – CRM & Marketing
- Knowledge Shop – Tax Resource and Training
- Link Reporting – Internal Productivity and Business Performance Reporting
- Microsoft 365 – Full suite of apps and software for daily operations
- Microsoft Teams – Web meetings, internal communication and collaboration
- Practice Ignition – Fee Proposals
- Practice Protect – Web security platform
- Simple Fund 360 – SMSF Compliance
- Syft Analytics – Client reporting, benchmarking and KPI’s
- Tango – Capturing Workflows & Procedures
- Weel – Digital corporate credit cards
- Way We Do – Internal Procedures & Checklists
- Xero Ledger – Financial Reporting
- Xero Tax – Tax Lodgements
- XBert – Bookkeeping Data Management
- XPM – Practice Management
The structure of our team is key to our success.
We have one full-time and two part-time Client Service Coordinators. All who work closely with our accountants under the guidance of our Business Manager.
Our accountants are broken into three teams, each team working under a Director and their Managers. We also have a separate team of five bookkeepers.
We have two Executive Assistants. One who works exclusively for the Managing Director, and one who works with the rest of the Team.
We have one Compliance Administrator who’s role encompasses ATO negotiations and all other corporate compliance requirements.
Finally, our Marketing & Communications Team rounds everything off.
Accounting for Compliance
We use the same procedure across the entire firm, with all business units required to follow the same system.
All new team members are briefed on how it works and the process is documented clearly in our Knowledge area on FYI Docs. This ensures people can always refer to it for guidance, so nothing falls through the cracks!
Process to start Compliance Job
- Accountants use our standard online template to request the Client Service Coordinator (CSC) team set up compliance jobs; then
- The CSC team creates jobs and prepares client electronic workpaper files ready for accountants to commence compliance work; then
- CSC team uses standard checklist to collect information required for job including:
- ATO reports
- Prior year Tax Reconciliations, Franking Account Schedules, Tax Loss Schedules, notes carried forward from previous year.
- Supporting documents are saved into Job in FYI Docs for easy access.
Process to complete Compliance Job
- Accountants use standard checklist to notify CSC team job is ready to be electronically collated to send for signing. Accountant prepares draft invoice if client not on fixed price agreement, or the work is special project.
- All documents required are saved and tagged in FYI Docs for CSC team to access.
- CSC team prepares and sends electronic documents from FYI Docs to Docusign where the Director has final review before sending to client.
- If client is not on fixed price agreement, Director/Manager reviews and approves invoice.
- Invoice is sent via Xero Blue with Quickfee payment gateway. Quickfee allows client to pay online using either EFT or credit card and also offers the ability to fee fund the invoice over a period of up to 12 months.
- Once client signs documents they are automatically saved into FYI Docs.
- CSC team then lodges tax returns and updates the status of the job in FYI Docs / XPM.
Client Service: Tasks & Responsibilities
Our Client Service Coordinators take phone calls, and screen as much as possible before taking a message for relevant team member. Team members are notified of phone calls via Microsoft Teams.
Where ATO correspondence can be received electronically, we use ATO Mate to automate the process.
- Team member uploads various ATO documents daily into ATOMate.
- Then, ATOMate integrates with XPM and FYI Docs.
- ATOMate matches NOA’s to Xero Tax Estimates.
- Email and documents are prepared by ATOMate using XPM contacts (TFN’s redacted).
- ATOMate sends email and files email automatically in FYI Docs.
We’re a paperless office (as much as possible) which limits the amount of paper correspondence coming through our office. This makes our entire operation more streamlined and efficient.
We log any unavoidable paper correspondence through Mail Register in AccountKit; except ATO correspondence, which is managed through ATOMate.
Documents are also scanned into FYI Docs and actioned electronically where possible.
This is centralised through one dedicated team member who is responsible for updating all client details. This prevents having outdated records, or duplicate data.
Team members and clients can also complete online forms through our website, which communicates data directly to XPM and Hubspot CRM. This automates the process of updating contact details.
XPM integrates with the following apps from our stack: CAS360, Simple Fund 360, Xero HQ, Xero Tax, Hubspot, Hubdoc, FYI Docs, ATOMate, AccountKit, Link Reporting, Chaser via Xero Blue, HappyHR. This avoids having to update and maintain multiple systems.
Marketing & Communications
Our Marketing & Communications Coordinator handles all of our social media, website and email communications with our network.
We’ve recently started using Hubspot for our marketing, which integrates with XPM and allows us seamless communication channels with our clients. We use Hubspot to create automated workflows for regular tasks such as reminders, forms and emails.
Our Corporate Compliance is centralised through one dedicated team member, which ensures consistency.
We use CAS360 which integrates with Docusign and XPM for seamless and automated changes.
ATO and compliance communication
All compliance communication is centralised through a dedicated team member – our Compliance Administrator. They are responsible for all ATO deferrals, remissions of interest and payment plans.
Accountants submit any compliance requests through our online forms, which are submitted directly to our Compliance Administrator for action.
Controlling the finances
We work mainly on a fixed price agreement basis, so clients either pay for the year in advance or via monthly direct debit. Each year we re-engage every client with a new fixed price engagement.
For the few clients who don’t want to engage this way, we invoice on completion of job and provide 14 day trading terms.
We use Chaser to send automated payment reminders to clients and keep a correspondence record. Clients receive a reminder two days prior to the due date, and every seven days after. These reminders include a copy of the invoice, and link to our payment gateway Quickfee.
We engage a virtual assistant (locally in Melbourne) to engage clients who don’t pay within a reasonable time frame. At 27 November 2020 we have negative lock-up (Debtors and WIP combined) and will maintain negative WIP for the entire financial year.
If you’re looking for firm management advice from an established cloud-based accounting firm, get in touch! We’re passionate about supporting all business owners so they can grow and improve – and that includes fellow accountants!