Embracing the power of technology has proved a winning strategy for the Verve Group.
Some accounting businesses see the growth of online accounting services and other digital competitors as a threat. But for Matthew Carberry, Director and Senior Wealth Adviser at Verve Group, digital innovations are a key opportunity to grow the business and add real value to their clients.
“Accounting’s been commoditised — so if all you do is tax returns and financial statements, your business has a limited lifespan,” Carberry says.
“Before, accounting was like looking at the rear vision mirror of a car. But with the digital innovation we can look through the windscreen, and shape what’s ahead.”
This forward-looking approach means that Verve Group can spot issues in advance and inform their clients rapidly.
“Before tax time, we can let clients know if they need to think about tax planning strategies because they’re going to make a big profit this year — whereas in the past, we couldn’t see this and the client would get a big tax bill without warning,” Carberry says.
Using the accounting package Xero, Verve Group can now access live data from clients across the country; monitor, analyse and benchmark it; then report to them each month, so they always know where they stand financially. And, because their data is in the cloud, there is no need for face-to-face meetings, saving both the client and Verve time.
Meeting changing client expectations
Carberry believes technology has shaped client expectations — especially among the more tech savvy generation X and Y clients.
“These clients will Google their questions before meeting with you,” says Carberry. “They tend to use us to validate their research and help get them through the maze of information out there.”
He says that today’s clients seek value-added services like business development, together with time-saving digital innovations. At Verve, these include a paperless book-keeping department — ideal for the firm’s many remote clients — and Zoom, a Skype-like tool powering virtual meetings with clients both interstate and overseas.
“We’ve also launched a virtual CFO product called DNA, which starts with a day of business planning,” says Carberry. “The clients create a budget and action plan, which we monitor monthly. We then have quarterly catch ups to discuss their plans, based on their data.”
The team at Verve also use an online budgeting tool provided by Count, which allows them to collect client data and get an overall snapshot of where the new client is at financially.
Award winning innovation
Verve’s achievements were celebrated publicly, when the group won Xero’s 2015 Marketing Innovation Award. The Award recognised Verve’s innovative marketing division, which provides a full range of branding, internal marketing and lead generation services to clients, as well as other accounting and financial planning businesses. The firm also plans to automate front-end services to better anticipate client needs and provide them with tailored information.
Carberry says that while it’s hard work keeping up with the pace of digital change, the effort definitely pays off.
“More and more of our clients are using modern technology platforms in daily life,” Carberry says. “So we need to embrace technology — and help them embrace it further too.”
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