Meet the other finalists:
How much should an accountant know about their clients’ industry? Just the tax or a little more? Wealth Cafe, based in Mumbai, India, goes into the first meeting with new clients armed with a list of the critical apps for their trade, and the knowledge of how to set them up with QuickBooks Online.
Harsh Vardhan Dawar employs commerce graduates as the first line of engagement who handle the day to day tasks, and one CPA per team to handle taxation and advisory (delivered quarterly). Training is a priority, not just in tax and regulatory changes but applications by industry too.
|Name of Company||Wealth Cafe Business Advisors|
|Location of Company||Mumbai, India|
|How long have you been in business?||6|
|Number of staff?||27|
|Number of clients?||150|
|Staff to client ratio||1.6|
|Do you outsource bookkeeping or accounting work?||No|
|What % of your clients are on value pricing/fixed fee?||100|
|What % of your clients are on cloud accounting software?||95|
|What % of your clients are on QBO?||95|
Digital First: Why do you think you are a finalist?
Dawar: One is we have been using QuickBooks Online for quite some time now, close to 6 years. That has given us insight into the various ways we can leverage the application for different clients. The first question we ask is, what is the output you need?
One client might say, “Quick access to data at the click of a button.” Another would say, “I need fantastic reports”. Another says, “I need profitability product wise”.
Then we do a backend workout (to determine) how do we achieve that? What things work for what sorts of clients? We have a lot of clients in production and web development industries, so when we meet a client we know the pains they will have.
So when I talk to a client who knows about dealing with Amazon and Flipcard, we already have the solutions for them in the first meeting. (The client thinks,) “Apart from being an accountant he knows my industry and the solutions for it.”
So that sets the tone when we start, having some industry knowledge with the client. They expect us to know accounting and taxation really well,but when we know some of the pain points the industry has that gets us going immediately.
Digital First: How have you accumulated that industry knowledge?
Dawar: Suppose I have five or six clients in the production industry. They eventually refer us lots of clients in the same industry. If I solve the problems for dealing with ecommerce companies with stock and cash and sales, the same pain point is faced by others in the industry. So whatever learnings we have we keep documenting it. We have internal discussions with our team about the best way to improve the process. Is there a better way to do the same thing better for our clients?
Digital First: Who do you employ for this industry research? Accountants?
Dawar: They are bachelors in commerce. They understand the basic of accounts and banking and they know some accounting. We have a CPA who looks over them and leads the entire engagement, and seven to eight people in the team. The final authority lies with the CPA because he takes care of the taxation part. The grads and post-grads (masters in commerce) do the day-to-day work.
Digital First: That seems like quite a big team – isn’t it expensive? How many teams do you have?
Dawar: I am based in Mumbai, one of the highest in terms of payroll. We have three teams, each team works with 40-45 clients. The commercials work here pretty well.
Digital First: Are the teams specialised?
Dawar: We haven’t (made teams specialise by industry) because it makes the work less interesting.
Digital First: How do you share information between teams?
Dawar: When I went last time to QuickBooks Connect there was a lot of talk about value pricing. From the day we started our practice we have always had a retainership model. We do accounting and taxation, company secretarial, etc. We don’t work on a per hour basis. Every Thursday morning we have a one-hour training where we discuss the latest technology changes or talk about processes.
Digital First: How much time do you spend in training?
Dawar: One hour a week. That’s when the team sits together. In addition we would have external trainings and industry trainings that would be anywhere between 24 hours of external training which someone would attend in a particularly month. Industry training is typically a full day, usually from 10am to 6pm on a Saturday or Sunday. (Members from the team) do two trainings a particular month. In the last year it has been extremely important for us with the new goods and services tax.
|What apps do you use for productivity?||G Suite, Office 365, Slack, Whatsapp|
|What apps do you use for workflow?||CCH iFirm, Trello|
|Tax and Statuory accounts?||KDK|
|Electronic signatures?||Adobe esign|
|Document storage?||Google Drive, Cloud HQ|
|Time tracking?||CCH iFirm|
|Expense management?||Greytiphr, Happay|
Digital First: You work on weekends?
Dawar: We work as the banks work. We have the second and fourth Saturdays off.
Digital First: So staff are training twice a month, 12 months a year?
Dawar: It’s only one or two members going from the team, (no-one goes to 24 trainings a year). Anyone who attends an external training session takes notes which are discussed in the weekly training session with the rest of the team. (And we update our) internal SOPs. It can be regulatory, application or industry training.
Digital First: How long have you been selling advisory services?
Dawar: Yes, that is where a lot of the time of the CPA goes. The routine work is taken care of by graduates. Services we offer include valuations (for investment and loans), clients setting up a new business want a business plan. Given that we have a good hold of the accounting already it makes sense that we add those services.
Advisory happens on a quarterly basis, not monthly.
Digital First: How do you do automation?
Dawar: We don’t have a lot of the (apps available in the US); we don’t use the localised versions. We look for alternatives here (in India). We share data with clients on Google Drive, and a payroll app called GreyTip. That also takes care of employees claiming reimbursements. We have two or three tax applications, like a KBK or Computax( Indian). These are equivalent to TurboTax. Sasent imports transactions right into QuickBooks Online for e-commerce. Clients can have a huge volume of transactions.
Digital First: So the application environment that is very vibrant in the US is in its infancy in India.
Dawar: A lot of new businesses come and ask us if we work with QuickBooks. If their CPA doesn’t know (QBO) I have seen them leave their adviser of the last 10 years and move to us. Because they want access to data 24/7, they want good reports. We have seen the customers push for access to the application and when they’re not being serviced they are ready to shift. That’s a huge positive. Customers are moving to the cloud. The current generation of advisers will have to embrace (the cloud) otherwise they will lose more customers.