When Olly Evans joined his family’s accounting firm, it had barely changed for years. The time was right to shake things up.
After 14 years spent travelling the country as a management consultant, Olly Evans found himself stepping back into accounting. He’d worked in accounts earlier in his career, but found compliance work unsatisfying. Suddenly he was back in the industry.
Evans’ move into his family’s firm, Evans & Partners, was purely practical – the offices were 10 minutes from his house, so he could spend more time with his family. But the way of working was frustrating.
“It was very backwards-looking,” he says. “We expended a lot of effort and time putting together information from months ago, which didn’t seem relevant or valuable for the businesses we worked for.”
Evans made the best of things and worked with a great, experienced team, but he still found the work unfulfilling. Then, at a conference in 2009, a Xero demo opened his eyes to what his practice could be.
“I thought: ‘Wow – this is incredible. It’s what I’ve been waiting for all this time.’” Having seen the benefits of cloud accounting, Evans wasted no time in modernising the practice. But it was hard work.
“There was a lot of resistance, and I still see it in the wider profession,” he says. “They’re either fighting the cloud, ignoring it or they don’t get it. I don’t know why they’re not engaging with it. My firm was like that. So it’s been a difficult transition to make.”
Evans and his staff have now cut the time it takes to process transactions, focusing more on data analysis and business advice. It’s winning them more and more start-up clients. “They almost see accountancy as a subscription they buy,” he notes.
“They’re looking for something where they can pay a fixed monthly fee, they get all their stuff covered and they get a good relationship with an accountant. “These will be the people who are running businesses in the UK in five years. The profession has no choice but to adapt to meet their needs.”
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Photo Credit: Rebecca Bernstein
Mark Rowland is a journalist and former editor of Accounting Technician and 20 magazine.