Becoming tech-savvy is a crucial step for any ambitious, forward-thinking accounting firm in 2019. Increasingly, clients want advice and integration support around setting up an effective cloud software set-up for their business. They’ll expect you, as their adviser, to have your finger on the pulse when it comes to the best apps and cloud solutions.

But how do you choose the ideal combination of integrated apps – the ‘app stack’? And what are the core benefits, for you and for your clients, of a well-connected and effective app stack?

With Xerocon London 2019 just around the corner, we highlight five of the crucial app exhibitors to visit when you’re at Xero’s annual tech conference on 13-14 November:

  1. Receipt Bank
  2. Fluidly
  3. Futrli
  4. GoCardless
  5. Practice Ignition

Why does your firm need an app stack?

Modern accounting runs on data. However, collecting the data you need to complete your client work can be a challenge. With clients working across multiple platforms and older legacy applications, being able to pull up the information you need is tricky. This challenge is greatly reduced if you use a core cloud accounting platform, like Xero. 

A cloud platform with an open API (application program interface) allows you to integrate a growing ecosystem of apps and fintech tools with your client’s central accounting system. This means that:

  • Your client’s data and documents are stored centrally and securely in the cloud 
  • The software tools in your app stack connect with this vital data and utilise it
  • Your firm has access to insightful real-time data and client reporting 

This broad and flexible app stack is instantly accessible online – for you, your clients and your team. This allows your firm to tailor bespoke finance and business systems for clients. 

If you don’t know your API from your elbow, choosing the right add-on apps is a complex task. To help you out, we’ve chosen five of the key apps you should definitely have in your stack.

1. Receipt Bank – automating your bookkeeping

Getting data into the accounts is one of the most time-consuming and laborious elements of accounting. Receipt Bank transforms this process by streamlining and automating your bookkeeping, turning paperwork into efficient financial data.

A Receipt Bank integration provides:

  • Scanning and digitisation of paperwork – paper receipts and client invoices can be quickly snapped with the Receipt Bank mobile app or scanned in the office. Optical character recognition (OCR) technology then pulls out the key information and digitises these files – instantly turning paperwork into clean, ordered data.
  • Automation of the bookkeeping tasks – once digitised, the automation features of Receipt Bank code each item and pull it through to the correct ledger in the client’s accounting software. This reduces the bookkeeping load and frees up your team’s time.

2. Fluidly – getting control over cash flow and debt

Cash flow management is central to advisory services, so it’s important to have a cash flow reporting and forecasting tool in your app toolbox. Fluidly provides smart cash flow forecasting, alongside debtor tracking and detailed cash reporting to help provide that cash flow advice.

The Fluidly app supplies:

  • Intelligent forecasting of cash position – using the financial data from your client’s accounts, Fluidly allows you to run drilled-down cash flow forecasts. This helps to spot any cash issues, take appropriate action and keep clients in a positive cash position.
  • Automation of credit control and aged debt – Fluidly also tracks aged debt and outstanding payment of your client’s invoices. Automated invoice reminders and late payment notifications speed up payment and reduce overall debtor day numbers.

3. Futrli – keeping track of KPIs

Advising clients on how to improve their financial and strategic performance is central to the new wave of advisory accounting services. What Futrli gives you is a client dashboard, populated with the specific key performance indicators (KPIs) for each client’s business.

The Futrli dashboard delivers:

  • Tracking of client KPIs – using data from the client’s accounting platform, you can track all the important KPIs and business metrics for each client. Holding clients to account against their budgets and targets helps to drive their underlying performance.
  • Forecasting and scenario-planning – extrapolating KPI data forward in time means you can forecast important metrics such as sales revenue, or gross margin. This helps to inform decision-making, run various scenarios and aid strategic planning.

4. GoCardless – getting paid on time, every time

Cash collection is a time-intensive task, both for you as a firm and for your clients. GoCardless offers a simple and highly flexible way to automate payments, using the tried and tested Direct Debit system and bringing it up to date as a cloud solution.

  • Automation of recurring payments – GoCardless is paper-free, with customers filling out an online mandate to authorise payment. Once set up, recurring payments are automatically collected as invoice due dates are reached, speeding up payment times.
  • Automatic bank reconciliation – once integrated with a client’s cloud accounting platform, GoCardless will also automatically match incoming bank payments against the relevant invoices – greatly reducing the financial admin workload.

5. Practice Ignition – a smooth practice workflow

Time spent creating proposal documents and engagement letters is time you could spend working on higher value client work. Practice Ignition provides a holistic practice solution that takes a client relationship from proposal to payment in one seamless process.

  • Streamlined proposals and engagement letters – Practice Ignition uses a smart library of proposals to quickly send detailed proposal docs out to clients. Once digitally signed by the client, engagement letters and contracts can all be finalised and sent.
  • Taking payment and growing the firm – built-in invoicing is included so you can bill out for each engagement. There’s also a cloud-based client relationship management (CRM) system and a business dashboard, so you can stay focused on practice growth.

See you at Xerocon!

Xerocon is the ideal place to familiarise yourself with the Xero App marketplace in person. There’s a huge selection of app exhibitors and, as a Gold Sponsor of this year’s London event, we’d love to see you at the MarketFinance stand.

Small business is a team sport and you’re a key player in your clients’ success. Let’s work together to provide your clients with more choice than ever before for how they fund their businesses.

Find out more about the Xerocon Exhibitors