Stories from practice

9 September 2019

An external CFO supports SME growth by Ray Baxter from CIMA

With over 30 years of accountancy experience supporting SMEs, Ray Baxter, CEO of Baxterworld based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, talks about how cloud accounting has been essential for his small firm and benefits his SME clients.

Cloud accounting? It’s a no-brainer

We were early adopters of cloud accounting and it’s now at the heart of our business. It really is a no-brainer for our client base, for whom we provide a fully outsourced finance function. Currently, two thirds of our clients use our cloud accounting systems, but we hope to make that 100% shortly.

Cloud accounting gives us access to a company’s accounting and finance software and systems in real time. Our full back office service means we know our clients’ business deeply. We’ve become their CFO; a strategic partner that’s helping them grow.

It has completely disrupted accounting. In the past, small business owners only used to deal with their accountant to close their books at the end of the year. Now, we can take on our client’s headaches and keep them informed on their business’ health each month so they can adapt their strategies with less risk and quick feedback. This generates great client loyalty and appreciation of our service.

Full service and great value

An example of a client success story would be a London-based company, which in 2010 operated only in bowling lanes and later expanded to multiple pubs and premises in London, Bristol and Manchester, where we are their finance department. They even have a direct phone line that their suppliers can call that’s answered with their company name… by our system.

We look after all their bookkeeping, we extract sales which are all based in the cloud. We maintain the purchase ledger and make payments to suppliers by lining them up in their banking app, which they then just have to approve.

By working with us they’ve been able to expand without having to worry about establishing an in-house financial department. We ran an exercise to determine how much it would cost for them to set up and run a finance department that covered all the work we do. It would have been roughly double the cost per year.So they’re getting a very high standard of work and making substantial savings.

Since then, they’ve expanded to multiple locations in UK. And it probably wouldn’t haven’t been possible if we hadn’t been using cloud accounting in a very clever way – after all, it’s not just about using it, it’s about using it very efficiently and cost-effectively so as to make a profit.

Business without borders

I’m ambitious about developing our services for SMEs, thanks partly to the technology we use. As well as in the UK, we have clients in Amsterdam and Dublin and potential clients building hotels in Malta and in the Bahamas. It’s all possible using the technology. Cloud accounting has allowed us to work anywhere in the world.

 


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