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Future Accountant profile: Tamryn Dicks

Tamryn Dicks is the Managing Director of Pharside Accounting

Tell me about your business

We are  a small firm – we don’t we don’t have a huge number of clients. I have kept it small on purpose to some degree, because the fewer clients we have, the more we can give each one. I do like the fact that we can give our clients almost one on one attention. 

We are 100% online. So yeah, in 2018, I made the decision. And we moved, it was actually Dext that made it possible – my biggest obstacle in running my business was getting paperwork. We were 100% remote working right from the beginning, have never had a physical office, we’ve always worked with virtual offices and work from home. Every new client that comes on board just immediately gets a Dext account, QuickBooks Online account and a little explanation of how to use them and how to get the most out of the software themselves.

Are you doing different things for your clients?

I have a principle of just trying to add in as much value as possible. You can sort of go through the services available and create your own package to make sure that you as a client are getting what you need. I’ve got quite a list of services that we will do for a client if they need them. Automation and the online services has opened up an entire world of things that we can offer to clients very quickly and very easily.

Is technology a tough sell for clients?

A few existing clients, who were older than 40, found it difficult to adjust. They’re not opposed to it, but they’re a bit nervous because it’s something they haven’t done before, and they have to learn new skills to do it. It’s a case of actually just scheduling an hour to sit with them, and show them how easy it is to use. I have found that 90% of people need to actually see a demonstration.

How do you see accountancy services changing over the next 1-3 years?

I think the general feeling in the industry is that accounting is moving far more towards advisory than compliance work. I think there is a large amount of truth to it, because it’s easier to explain the value of an advisory service as opposed to compliance, which is normally a grudge purchase.

I do think the future of accounting is that advisory position, partnering with a business owner and helping them grow. But I also think not that many business owners actually realise how much they need us for compliance. Software like Dext and QuickBooks Online make it easier, and then make it faster. But if you haven’t set it up correctly, or you don’t know that you’re allowed to claim a certain expense in your business, you could be losing out.

How will you stay ahead as the industry changes?

You have to keep your eye on the ball. I’m also part of a couple of accounting groups, including the Dext partner programme. It’s important to make sure I actually log in and read the articles and complete new training. 

Will you be delivering new different services, or changing how you deliver old services?

It’s a combination – you could say we’re doing the old ways new. Because everyone needs the old ways. I think we’ve had a lot of success for our clients where they feel like they’re not paying for things they didn’t need. But they’re also getting things that they didn’t even know they needed.

I went through burnout a couple of years ago. As a result, my focus has been on helping my clients avoid something similar. So in terms of new products, we have put together a training and a coaching programme for small business owners, to help them create a business that doesn’t need them.

How does software improve your clients’ lives?

As the business owner, there are so many apps that suddenly make life easier and they all integrate – they’re all plugged into the core accounting software and form an online business that actually makes it possible to be a business owner and still have a life.

What’s the biggest lesson you learned?

Don’t approach changing one piece at a time. That sounds silly, because you want to implement one piece at a time, but you need to actually plan your online journey quite considerably.

You need to make sure that the different aspects of what you need done will integrate, and be sure that your underlying processes are working themselves before you attempt to automate them with software. Because if you’re doing something wrong, and you implement software, you’re just going to do something wrong faster.

I think if someone was going to start this journey now, I would say spend a lot more time planning and checking your systems, your integrations, and your idea, before you start actually implementing the individual software and discovering where they go wrong.