With offices in Dannevirke and Pahiatua on New Zealand’s North Island, MCI & Associates is an accountancy firm that services clients from the agriculture and agricultural services sector, as well as in general business. It’s led by future-focused individuals who certainly aren’t afraid of a little hard work.
Speaking at MYOB Partner Connect 2019 in August, MCI & Associates’ principal Neil Ivamy CA and associate Aaron Karena CA revealed the trials and tribulations involved in bringing their entire complement of clients (numbering more than 1000 business entities) into the cloud with MYOB Essentials.
Now, with more than 12 months of transactions data uploaded, they’ve begun their journey towards realising The Connected Practice vision.
What is the Connected Practice Vision?
Back in 2016, MYOB introduced the concept of The Connected Practice to show how transaction processing, compliance and business advisory are transforming.
Automation and other digital innovations have reduced the time spent on once labour-intensive tasks, such as reconciling financial records using bank feeds. This enables accountants to spend more time on value-added services, such as advisory.
It’s this vision that the team at MCI & Associates recognised as the key to their future growth as a business, and it’s this vision that motivated them to bring their client base online.
“Having gone through the switch to Essentials, we’re now able to look at building out our service offering with things like advisory,” says Karena.
As hoped, the shift towards automated compliance and more streamlined transaction processing is giving the team better access to data, while features of the practice solutions they use allow the team to use that data in more meaningful ways.
“Now that we have 12 months or more of transaction data for each client, we’re able to use MYOB Advisor to generate bite-sized financial insights for them,” says Ivamy. “If you have a client with cash-flow problems, then you can dig into their debtors’ data and show them, for example, that it took them 60 days on average to recover that revenue – and you can show that to them in a way they find quick and easy to understand.”
That’s because MYOB Advisor uses machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to generate natural language descriptions of a business’s financial position, as well as engaging visualisations of that information – all at the click of a button.
“In the past, we’d have to undertake in-depth analyses that would take around two hours each time for the same result,” says Ivamy. “For that reason, we would only offer that service to clients that required it at an absolute premium.”
“In the past, we’d have to undertake in-depth analyses that would take around two hours each time for the same result.”
Now, the team at MCI & Associates can all run that kind of high-level reporting – and do so in an instant.
“Once the junior accounting staff start using the basic reporting functionality, they’ll start to see the trends developing across multiple client cases in a very practical way. It’s a very effective way of upskilling staff, really,” says Ivamy.
For Karena, there are additional benefits for new members of the team.
“Millennial workers are demanding software like this – solutions that are powerful, engaging and easy to use. As we continue to bring on more staff from that generation, tools like MYOB Advisor help us to become a preferred employer in their eyes.”
Picture: Aaron Karena CA.
The path to AI-driven insights
MCI & Associates are only just scratching the surface of the value they can see in AI-driven data insights, but it’s clear they’re excited about the path they’re on.
“The biggest challenge was the initial migration to Essentials,” explains Ivamy.
“Before we could begin to look at things like MYOB Advisor, we really needed that first 12 months of transaction data across our client base.
“Further value will come as we add more years of data, as this will improve the insights we’re able to derive from the system.”
Once all staff are up to speed with MYOB Advisor, they’ll then be able to plan out how it can be priced as a value-added service.
Picture: Neil Ivamy CA .
A blueprint for success
The entire narrative indicates a blueprint for success in advisory that any other accounting practice might follow:
1. Migrate clients online – Before pushing too far into advisory, first seek to solve legacy issues around transparency and a lack of automation by moving clients’ files online.
2. Onboard staff – Next, leadership and change champions within the firm need to work with other staff to seek buy-in and begin adapting their ways of working to new solutions, such as MYOB Advisor.
3. Restructure pricing – Finally, consider how these once expensive, complicated services might now be offered and priced into a standard service offering.
“SME owners have the work they do, and that’s what they spend their day doing,” observes Ivamy. “They don’t want to get home of an evening to a four-page email from us filled with tables and figures that they need to spend a few hours deciphering.
“If we’re able to deliver a graph or two with a few key lines explaining them, they’re more likely to see value in their relationship with us.”
But at that level of service, Ivamy and Karena can only envisage offering those insights as a free service. It won’t be long, however, before they can step things up.
“If we were to implement the full MYOB Advisor reporting suite – the overview, cash flow, expenses and debtors, and so on – then we could look at pricing it as a service on a monthly, quarterly or six-monthly basis,” says Ivamy.
More about MYOB Advisor
The accounting and bookkeeping industry is transforming rapidly, bringing new ways for MYOB partners and their clients to evolve and, in turn, to redefine their success.
By leveraging the best of AI technology, MYOB Advisor allows its partners to scale up their advisory services quickly and easily.
Features and advisory insights available via the platform include:
Automated management reporting and a reduction in reporting time
Quickly and easily create a snapshot of clients’ financial positions
Deep integration between MYOB Advisor and MYOB means there is no need to leave the online platform when generating reports.
To find out more, talk to your MYOB Partner Manager, call 0800 696 272 [in NZ] or visit www.myob.com