Re-Leased Blog

Re-Leased Blog

How Beever and Struthers transformed its relationship with its clients using cloud technology

Grace Thomson 03 December 2019

I sat down with John Toon, who leads the cloud team at Beever and Struthers, Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors, to hear about how the firm's cloud strategy has changed its relationship with clients from being transactional to supportive.

When John joined the firm in 2015, the company didn't have a cloud strategy and had only just begun thinking about how this technology could benefit its clients.

Now, helping clients move from desktop to cloud has become a valuable service line for the firm.

Grace: Hello John. Can you tell me how you found yourself in your current role?

John: My interest in the cloud began when Xero first launched in the UK just over 10 years ago. About 3 years after that, I started by own virtual FD business using Xero, Receipt Bank and Spotlight Reporting. That was great fun, but ultimately, I decided to get back into practice so I joined Beever and Struthers.

Grace: How did you go about developing the company’s cloud strategy?

John: Firstly, I re-established Beever and Struthers’ partnership with Xero. From there we have grown from having a handful of clients on the cloud to approximately 240 clients on Xero. This was achieved over the last 4.5 years, but a significant part of the growth has happened in the past 2 years. Our aim is to reach 1000 clients on Xero over the next 2 years whilst also refining our app advisory service.

Having said that, like many other practices, our team isn’t 100% dedicated to cloud adoption. Ultimately, we all still have portfolios to manage. That’s where the issue lies for the vast majority of practices - advancing the cloud strategy is constrained by time.

Grace: What is it about cloud technology that interests you?

John: What interests me is the automation because I'm inherently a lazy person. If the client has Xero then there is a plethora of other apps, like Re-Leased, which you can integrate with. This enables both accountants and our clients to take time out of previously manual systems as automation makes processes more efficient. For accountants and bookkeepers, cloud technologies allow you to do what you're really good at, providing advice

Grace: What impact has the cloud accounting strategy had on Beever and Struthers and your clients?

John: When our client is working in the cloud, we can be more productive. We can see accurate, up to date data at any time. This helps us and them to make informed decisions with our support. I see that we deliver better reporting packs for them and can head off cash flow problems. Also, we can offer additional services like app advisory.

Shifting to the cloud has given me the ability to build my own app stack for clients. By asking my clients the right questions I can gain easy wins with cloud apps to automate processes which frees up their time so they can focus on their businesses. Cloud apps enable them to scale quicker, deliver new projects and break new markets.

Ultimately it lends itself to having conversations around growth, scale and funding opportunities. It changes our relationship with clients from only meeting annually to now more frequently. The cloud has developed our relationship from being transactional to supportive and has allowed us to reach out to clients who are less likely to pick up the phone. Now we make proactive decisions rather than reactive, and because we can see how a client is performing we can intervene before it's too late. Overall, cloud technology allows us to do more of the fun stuff.

Grace: Do you think firms that do not adopt the cloud are at risk?

John: If I were to be gung-ho I’d say, ‘if you're not going to engage with cloud, you'll be obsolete!’ However, the reality is that there are going to be plenty of the firms who don't engage with cloud because it does not suit their client base.

Ultimately, firms need to think of the demographic of clients and staff. At Beever and Struthers, we are a mid-tier firm we can’t afford to sit on our hands, we want to be at the forefront of technological development.

Grace: Any final pieces of advice for your peers?

John: It's challenging to know where to go next after implementing Xero or QuickBooks. There is no reason why firms can’t experiment with 2-3 competing, horizontal apps which have low barriers to change. It is important to spend some time researching apps. We ask, is the product mature? What problem are we trying to solve? Does the app solve that? If it does, we will advocate for it.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for guidance from those with more experience.

Connect with John on LinkedIn here.

Subscribe to Blog