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Customer Experience Strategy: Building the boat!

By Bec Loves CX, Homepage, IndustryNo Comments

Before we can steer the ship, we must first build the boat!

Last month, we worked on coming to terms with how clients truly perceive us, and we’ve got a pretty good understanding of what remarkable experiences are. The next question we need to ask ourselves is “What’s next?”.

Before we can steer the ship, we must first build the boat! This is where your Customer Experience Strategy comes into play. Call me a CX nerd, but I absolutely LOVE this part of the process as it’s where creative freedom is your friend and you start to bring CX to life.

The CXPA defines the CX strategy as “… our intended Customer Experience, how it links to our overall organisation strategy and objectives and how it aligns to our brand values and attributes.” This will build the foundations of your approach to customer experience and give your team direction.

We need to create our vision, values, and branding, centred around CX and aligned with the business direction. This will build a foundation for realistic expectations of experience for your staff and your clients.

For some inspiration, The Ritz Carlton Hotel penned their CX vision as “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen”. When I read this, I would assume that as a customer of the Ritz I could expect an experience of a glamorous standard, to be wined and dined. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Hector Elizondo from ‘Pretty Woman’ was there, ready to teach me which fork goes first. I drew this conclusion from one sentence, powerful right?

Once you have your vision, you can build on this with values. These are generally short points outlining the core values that support your vision and sets a standard of what you might look for in potential applicants that join your team in future. For example, if I were tasked with writing the values that underpin The Ritz Carlton’s vision it would comprise of words such as:

  • Opulence
  • Exclusive
  • Personal
  • Refined

Now that you have your vision and values, we need to consider what implicit and explicit promises your business is making to the wider audience. Below are some questions to ask internally and externally – Remember, we can never assume we know the answer ourselves!

  • What are our clients’ expectations of the experience we should be providing, based on the impression our brand portrays?
  • What specific promises are we making? 
  • Are our clients’ expectations of CX, and the promises we make around CX, align with our CX and business strategy?
    • Are they realistic expectations? 
    • How can we make sure we get this right from the very beginning of a client’s journey?

Now you are armed with this information, the boat won’t build itself! Block out some time to meet with your team and brainstorm how you could approach this.

Trading Hobbyist: Accounting trap or goldmine?

By Homepage, In the Media, IndustryNo Comments

Trading Hobbyist: accounting trap or goldmine?

Never before has there been such a perfect storm leading to potentially either a goldmine or a nightmare for accountants. In this post, I will attempt to explain why accountants need to be prepared, how we got here and how you can turn a possible disaster into a goldmine for your firm.

It has been written and talked about ad nauseam – the world has changed. Ever since March 2020 we were told to go home: it’ll only be a few weeks and then we can all go back to normal. As weeks turned into months and the months into years and the situation spiralled out of control, many of us struggled with what to do with all this extra time we had on our hands. We were no longer distracted by social activities, ferrying kids around to various sports or being forced to go on holidays.

It was finally here. This was our chance. We were home when not eyeing people off suspiciously at the supermarket, or trying to hold in a cough at the chemist (just a dry throat, I swear). And then the storm hit. The formula looked something like this:

Increased time at home + technology at our fingertips + low brokerage fees = we could all be the Wolf of Wall Street.

Finally living the dream. Sitting around in pyjamas, a bowl of corn chips resting on our enlarged bellies, phone in one hand while keeping an eye on whatever it was Netflix told me everyone else was watching so why aren’t you. And within the phone the power to trade across time zones, across markets, derivatives, options, CFDs, crypto… Endless opportunities to make your millions, or quietly realise a loss that would never be spoken about.

This scenario may sound familiar or chances are you know someone that went down this path. Some people were just passing the time with a flutter, others legitimately trying to build wealth. Either way, we know that a lot of Australians did this.

According to SelfWealth’s (a flat fee retail share trading platform) Annual Report, active traders on their books increased by 105% during FY21 and the total number of trades increased by 147% for the same period¹. The reduced costs associated with working from home and lack of alternatives meant people had a surplus of cash and now that cash became seed capital for their own private hedge fund.

While the popularity of ETFs is growing, only 15% of investors choose this investment type compared to 58% of investors directly holding Australian shares (ASX, 2020)². A key area to watch is the number of investors dipping their toes (and sometimes up to their neck) in the ever-expanding galaxy of cryptocurrencies. According to the AFR, 1 in 5 Australians is likely to buy cryptocurrency in the next 12 months³.

We are now seeing investors using multiple brokers and exchanges to take advantage of sign up offers and referral programs. This may make sense for the investor looking to capture the highest return possible, but it does mean that they may end up with poor records and difficulty in tracking their investments.

Throw into the mix buybacks, stock splits, DRPs, demergers as well as the even more complex world of crypto yield farming and come tax time there will be either underreporting (non-compliance) or a heap of work for someone to reconcile the data and make sense of all the transactions.

While excel has been one of the greatest fintech solutions since Lotus 1-2-3, it does have limitations. Excel formulas can be error-prone, time must be invested for compliance changes and reconciliation back to any data source is limited or non-existent.

Luckily for today’s accountants there exists a whole new world of automation: an ecosystem of data feeds, AI and automated processing that will drastically reduce the amount of time required to keep track of CGT records, produce financials and arrive at a reliable tax optimised position.

The perfect storm has enabled trading and wealth creation for a whole new generation and now this generation needs your help to make sure they do not give it all back with poor tax planning and compliance issues.

References:

  1. SelfWealth Limited Annual Report (2021, June 30)  https://www.selfwealth.com.au/investor-centre/
  2. ASX Australian Investor Study (2020) https://www2.asx.com.au/blog/australian-investor-study
  3. AFR (2021, June 8) Four million Aussies set to buy into crypto https://www.afr.com/companies/financial-services/four-million-aussies-set-to-buy-into-crypto-20210608-p57z2g

CX is Far from a Fad!

By Bec Loves CX, Homepage, In the Media, Industry3 Comments

You may have heard word on the street that Client Experience (CX) is the new industry fad and that if you don’t embrace it, your business is setting itself up for failure. This is a controversial opinion among critics however, only one part of this is true and I can say with confidence, CX is far from a fad!

CX has been around for decades however, it has commonly been mistaken for customer service and pumping valuable dollars into the latest and greatest technology. Although these are contributors to CX, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. The expectations from our clients to deliver on CX is growing day by day. 

CXPA refers to Client Experience as “the perception that customers have of an organisation – one that is formed based on interactions across all touchpoints, people and technology over time”. 

I interpret this as an emotional connection you form with a business based on your experiences with them on all levels. It’s that heart-fluttering nostalgia you get when Mr Whippy drives by playing music, in the middle of summer – Doesn’t that take you back to some fun memories? And Mr Whippy generally drove a beat-up old van and his ice cream machine was probably older than your parents, but the experiences and memories that it gave you evoke a fuzzy feeling every time.

The first question to ask yourself is this: How do our clients perceive our business? 

Many of us have been guilty of drawing off assumptions however, the key to CX is facing the hard facts of what clients really do perceive or feel when they think of your business. The biggest mistake business owners make is assuming their business is perceived a certain way and implementing changes based on this. This is self-sabotage!

Hearing and seeing hard facts or data on this matter can be a hard pill to swallow for some but if you have a genuine understanding of your client’s perception, you’re already on the path to CX success and can start implementing meaningful change.

I could go on about CX for hours and hours and don’t worry, I will! But before I flood you with what I have learnt about the six competencies of Client Experience (and work to convert you into a CX superstar!), I’d like you to think about the following points:

  • Mr Whippy was delivering Client Experience to children decades ago, it’s not a fad that will fade away and it doesn’t mean you need the latest and greatest of everything. 
  • There are two types of business owners in the world, the ones that have already embraced CX and the ones that will be forced to embrace it in order to survive. Which one do you want to be?
  • Client Experience is a genuine feeling and perception of your business.

Let’s make a start on this journey together and pick one point from this post that you can apply in your everyday life. It will make a world of difference and allow you to get a feel for what it is to live CX.

Thanks a million – CAS 360 hit 1,000,000 Annual Reviews!

By CAS 360, Homepage, Industry, NewsNo Comments

Thanks a Million!

Last week CAS 360 passed a major milestone, there has now been more than 1 million ASIC Annual Reviews processed in CAS 360!

This is a massive milestone, and we are so thankful to our clients who use CAS 360 every day to complete their corporate compliance work. Without the faith and trust, you have put into the product we would not have come close to this number, we are forever grateful.  

We built CAS 360 with the intention to streamline and automate as much of the corporate compliance job as possible, the Annual Review was always the centerpiece of this. 

CAS 360 has now over a million times automatically downloaded Annual Reviews from ASIC, automatically alerted the user via the Annual Review Alert, automatically compared the data in CAS 360 to ASIC, and after a few clicks generated the Annual Review document pack, email delivered that pack to the company directors, and automatically marked up for digital signing. 

We hope for all of the CAS 360 clients, we have been able to streamline your processes and allow you to spend more time on other meaningful work. Also, we hope that businesses are receiving their documents earlier and signing them easier than ever before. 

We are also so proud to play a part in generating revenue for our clients. If our clients are charging $250 as a service fee for completing the Annual Review, that means… Oh right,  you’re probably an accountant… You know how much has been generated by firms.

Of course, in 2021 we have made this process even more streamlined with the release of Multi Annual Reviews, allowing users to complete their Annual Reviews for the day/week in one simple process. 

However, we are not done with it yet, we have one of our biggest and best innovations yet to come later in 2021, focused on streamlining one more area of the Annual Review process… Stay tuned!

Bank Data Automation with Simple Fund 360

By Industry, Simple Fund 360No Comments

Looking to get more out of your Simple Fund 360 software but not sure where to start?

From my experience, the most important step is to have a plan, and break it down into stages of automation (Bank, share, wrap). Also, be mindful that adding on Bank or Share data is not necessary for every client. 

Start with a plan

Ensure you have account details in the software – these will have transferred across from Simple Fund Desktop if they were input there, if not, they can be input in Simple Fund 360. By entering them in, you can see if the account is supported, and also track to keep an eye on if/when this status changes. 

Decide if feeds are needed

Once account details are in the software and you are able to determine whether or not the feed is supported. The next step is to decide if the fund needs to have bank feeds set up. 

If you know it’s a fund that has one or two monthly transactions, let’s say interest or rental payment, feeds probably aren’t a necessary addition. 

The feeds are great when you have multiple transactions occurring throughout the year, even multiple bank accounts (keep in mind a bank data pack, when added to a fund, allows unlimited accounts to be set up using one pack). In no time at all, you will also notice that when a client does a lot of interbank transactions, these will start to match off against each other automatically. 

Another great benefit of having the bank feeds is the ability to generate an info request at the start of a compliance job, that covers everything that has occurred in the fund for the year rather than having to potentially ask for bank statements, then process those only to have to go back to the client and request invoices, or further details on deposits/withdrawals, etc. With the bank feed, you have visibility over this information before you have even made contact with them. 

As an accountant, I found that I was generally able to complete 75-95% of the processing of a compliance job before we had even sent an info request out the door. 

How to set up

Once you have determined that a fund needs bank feeds, you will need to generate an authority form. This will need to be signed by the client and then returned to you to provide to BGL. Having had experience with this process, I can’t recommend enough, providing this to the client when you are either meeting with them face to face, or when you are providing them with other documents for signing. The rate of return we had when including this authority form with a collation pack was much higher than when it was sent as a stand-alone email. 

Now, with Westpac accounts, you will need the client to log in and authorise the feed, there is no form. However, if you align this with a client meeting, you can step them through this process. 

Another method to consider if you are not getting the client ‘buy in’ that you had hoped for is to outline in the client engagement/fee quote that additional fees may need to be charged for data entry. This was another tool we used to discuss with clients the reason we were implementing this change. 

Once the bank feeds were set up for the funds we looked after, the ability to review and provide current information to clients became a breeze, also as I mentioned earlier, the completeness in which an info request could be sent at the start of a compliance job was far, far more efficient – as we only had to go to the client once for the required information, rather than drafting the initial info request blind and hoping that everything was included.  

So from here, the first step is to review your funds, ensure you have bank account details set up in the software to check to see if the account is supported, then look to see which funds are suitable for feeds. Once this has been determined, consider the timing on when you will send out your forms. This could be a project to look at before we tick over to the next financial year, which would mean a full year of data in the fund. 

Remember you can check your usage levels for Bank Data packs either in the Feed Management Screen or using MyBGL if you have access. If you do need to purchase Bank Data packs or add additional packs, this can be done via MyBGL.

If you didn’t get the chance to catch the Bank Data Feeds Automation with Simple Fund 360 webinar, check it out.

Trust Distribution with CAS 360

By CAS 360, IndustryNo Comments

Trust Distribution with CAS 360

As 30 June quickly approaches, we enter the familiar and sometimes frantic phase of the year where tax planning becomes front & centre. 

Reviewing family groups, company performance, and projecting how they might end the year, enables firms with the opportunity to plan, and ensure their clients are in the best tax position possible. 

But did you know that you could be generating all your Trust Distribution statements from CAS 360?

Recently we ran a webinar on the benefits of managing your Trusts in the software. The ability to generate unit registers, unit certificates, capture trust events, and most importantly for this time of year, generate your distribution statements and declaration of distribution. 

In order to get your trusts into CAS 360, you have the option of manually setting them up, however, if you’re also managing the corporate trustee for the trust in CAS 360, the beneficiary details, addresses etc, will already be in your software, so it will make adding these details a breeze. 

Alternatively, we have a template that can be downloaded, you then provide us with the details for all your trusts, and we will complete a bulk import into CAS 360 for you.  

The document templates are customisable also, so once your trusts are in, you are able to download the template and adjust as necessary, personalising the content and the experience for your clients. 

Dividend statements can also be prepared from within CAS 360, another wonderful tool to be utilising at this time of year if you have companies declaring year-end dividends. 

With both of these options, you can also enable the use of Digital signing, using either DocuSign or Adobe sign, both integrated with CAS 360.

If you didn’t get the chance to catch the Trust Distribution with CAS 360 webinar, check it out >>>

Make your Tax Planning time less stressful and more efficient with Simple Fund 360!

By Industry, Simple Fund 360No Comments

Simple Fund 360 makes your Tax Planning less stressful and more efficient - enabling you to wow your clients!

As another financial year draws to a close, thoughts of lodgement due dates drift away (hopefully), and focus shifts to Tax Planning time. Ensuring your clients have maximised contributions, meet their minimum pension requirements and end the financial year in the best possible tax position is front of mind. 

Simple Fund 360 is the perfect tool to assist with making sure you have their SMSF covered during this process. 

The first notable feature is the filter options on the Entity Workflow screen. These can be used to really filter through your funds, whether that be by Member ages, TSB, Concessional Cap status, NCC status, Pension or Non-Pension Funds, and Pension Status. 

Next, we move onto transaction data! If you find yourself looking at a fund with no data in it (as you have no bank feeds set up), and you’re needing to get those transactions in and allocated to gain a clear picture, look no further than Smart Docs. Once you have obtained copies of the bank statements from the client, whether that be in PDF or paper form, simply scan them or take a photo of them and upload them into the software. Ta-da! Transactions in! From here, the use of the Smart Matching rules can help quickly sort through contribution or pension transactions and allow you to match multiple transactions at a time. 

Once transactions are allocated, you can view fund by fund visuals using the dashboards to check contribution and pension status’. With the contribution dashboard, you can now also include contributions that may have been made to an external fund, whether it be in the current year or previous years, potentially impacting bring-forward rules. The Pension Dashboard can also be used to check if minimum pensions have been withdrawn from the fund. The reduction in the minimum pension due to Covid has also been built into the software, so it will take this into account when looking at the minimum. 

Whilst going through this process, you might also want to create a specific tax planning report pack, ensuring you have supporting documentation saved for any details you are providing to your clients. This can easily be done from the reports screen by following the steps: Clear any current selections and create a new report pack by dragging and dropping the required reports – Contributions Summary, Contribution Breakdown, SuperStream Contribution Data and Minimum Pension reports are good ones to keep a copy of on file when preparing and providing any advice. Once selected, simply hit save new report pack on the bottom, and you will be able to generate the report pack for any fund that you have selected. 

You are also able to create Custom Reports. These could be used to potentially put together a cover letter in order to present your client with their current fund stats. Think merge fields that pull member names, current contribution or pension data from the software! The easiest way to implement one of these is to take your standard email/letter template that you would ordinarily send to the client and download the document template from Simple Fund 360 that contains all the merge fields from the software. You can find this template in the Reports tab, under the ‘Custom Reports’ heading. Then you want to select the relevant merge fields to replace your data with, things like Member Name, Total Superannuation Balance, Contributions received to date are good ones to include. 

Starting with your own already existing document will mean that you have any of your firm’s disclaimers included or any standard paragraphs used by the firm. 

The above are just a couple of tricks that Simple Fund 360 has in order to make your tax planning time less stressful, more efficient, and ultimately enabling you to really be able to wow your clients!

For more tips and tricks, check out our Tax Planning webinar recording >>>

The benefits of transitioning to Simple Fund 360 are invaluable! – Bedford story

By Case Study, Homepage, Industry, Simple Fund 360No Comments

The intuitive and easy to use interface has led to processing efficiency. Especially for complex funds with lots of transactions, the processing time has reduced by more than half, which is incredible.

About Bedford

Bedford CA is a highly skilled and proactive firm of professional accountants and business advisors with over 70 years of history behind them.

The team at Bedford CA pride themselves on their proactive, personalised service to their clients. They partner with their clients to set goals and develop strategies to achieve them, from start up to retirement, as well as managing their client’s compliance requirements effectively every year.

About Diana Porta

Diana Porta, client manager at Bedford, is an experienced, knowledgeable, pro-active and engaging accountant with proven skills in Tax Preparation, SelfManaged Superannuation Funds, Auditing and Business Process Improvement.

Diana holds a Bachelor of Business and Commerce from University of Western Sydney, where she was awarded the 2010 Dean’s Medal. She is also a Chartered Accountant through the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, and is currently working towards her Masters in Economics and Finance through Sydney University.

The Challenge

Inefficient and difficult to use software

Prior to making the transition to Simple Fund 360, Bedford CA legacy systems were hard to manage – everything from digital usability to simple fund processing was difficult.

“Our previous super fund software was not very intuitive and after investing a considerable amount of time and money, there were still inefficiencies in processing super funds across the firm.”

The team at Bedford CA knew they needed a much simpler solution– and they found that in Simple Fund 360.

Why Simple Fund 360

Intuitive, innovative software that adds value to our firm and clients

“We really wanted to move to a leading software provider that demonstrates a commitment to continuous improvements to their product. Other key considerations included: If the software features were intuitive and easy to use? If the reports were easy to understand? And most importantly, if the new software would add value to our firm and our clients?”

The Solution

An intelligent, automated solution - Simple Fund 360

“We were a bit worried about the transition to Simple Fund 360, but the process was very easy. The BGL team imported all the data from our previous software and generated all the documents to set up bank and broker feeds”.

“Now, with the bank and broker feeds up and running, we are able to obtain a lot of information from directly within the software, which has considerably reduced the volume of queries to clients”.

“Processing transactions and year-end adjustments is also really easy and BGL’s Online Help is a great resource for information on processing corporate actions and matching transactions”.

Using Simple Fund 360’s Matching Rules Screen, Bedford’s CA team can now easily view, create and manage funds’ transaction matching rules – which determines the logic Simple Fund 360 uses to automatically code transactions that feed into funds through bank feeds, CSV or other file uploads.

“My favourite time saving features in Simple Fund 360 are the “Drag and Drop” file import feature and the “Transaction Matching – Create New Rule’’ feature. I love being able to “Drag and Drop” csv files into the file import feature and by “Creating Rules” in the Matching Rules Screen, most of the work is done for the current and future years”.

“Finally, the BGL Support Team has been quick and responsive to any issues we have faced so far, and the Simple Fund 360 Product Development Team is continually adding new helpful features”. 

The Results

Our processing time has reduced by more than half and now we can focus on what really matters - our clients!

“The benefits of transitioning to Simple Fund 360 are invaluable.”

“As we continue to automate as much as we can, not only are we saving time on processing, but we’re also streamlining other internal procedures. This helps us to keep a competitive price structure for our clients.”

“Now we can focus on what really matters – our relationships with our clients and assisting them with their compliance.”