In this edition of Firms in the spotlight, we spoke to Future Cloud Accounting to learn some more about the founders behind the firm and how they juggle their work and family life.
Future Cloud Accounting is a Newark firm of accountants which was set up by friends Charlotte Wilson and Francesca Tricarico in 2019. They have grown quickly since their launch and now have recruited 6 employees in a short period of time.
We caught up with Francesca to learn a little more about the firm, the technology that they use and also to get some insights into how they have grown since their launch.
Francesca Tricarico Co-Founder, Future Cloud Accounting
Thank you for meeting with us today. Can you start by letting me know why you and Charlotte decided to set up firm.
Charlotte and I used to work for the same firm but different in offices. We bumped into each other whilst at a networking event in Autumn 2018. We were both Xero and Receipt Bank users and we could see the potential of setting up a business with this software at the centre.
We knew cloud accounting would be the future! Kids are growing up using apps and we know businesses need real-time data in order to grow properly. So we decided to set up Future Cloud in April 2019. We started with just the two of us both working from home but we now have offices and a team of 6 employees!
Charlotte and I are strong in different areas so work well together. Charlotte manages the operations side of the business and I do all the business development. We then make sure the work is split between our team members according to their strengths.
What are the primary services you provide for your clients?
We offer the full package of compliance services from bookkeeping to year-end accounts and most clients take us up on the full package as they find it to be the most cost-effective. We do advisory work for some clients and give them more regular updates but the beauty of cloud accounting is that everyone we do bookkeeping for is up to date so we can offer them some quick advice based on the figures in the software.
Technology is clearly important to you and core to your business. What are the key software tools that you use in your practice?
We use Xero, Receipt Bank, Futrli, Accountancy Manager, Inform Direct, Taxfiler, Futrli Predict. This has been a gradual build-up and In the early stages, we just partnered with Xero, Receipt Bank and Futrli. We knew these were the key three for growing businesses. Then we also signed up to Accountancy Manager for practice management to make sure our processes ran smoothly.
The tools we use with the team to work remotely are Teams and Asana. We have a team meeting twice a week on Teams and also document anything to do with the client using the channels feature.
We use Asana to keep track of where we are on jobs which are on the go and also Accountancy Manager to keep track of deadlines.
When you look at the technology to use in the business, how do you pick the apps that you use and when you need to implement them?
Firstly, we sign up for a trial and see if it will work for our business. We speak to the developers if we need something addressing or changing. We are quite open to change and find you have to embrace it, make it work for you and not overthink it!
There are some interesting new practice management software apps which we are keeping our eye on for the future. We are also looking at changing our payroll system as we are growing and Xero might not be the best solution for bigger company payrolls.
You are very active on LinkedIn and regularly post amazing videos! Did you invest in any marketing coaching?
I have had no coaching and we have never paid for any marketing whatsoever! I just wanted to genuinely share our business growth journey as I know how to grow a business by being very personal. It was my idea to have my hashtag #thejourneyisreal and it has really taken off!
We use Instagram a lot and also Facebook from time to time. I would say our leads come 50% from connections I’ve made over the years in the local area and 50% from social media.
Do you have a clear marketing strategy that you follow? Do you do any other marketing such as newsletters, webinars etc?
No marketing strategy as yet….is that bad!?
We don’t do newsletters as we find they just end up getting deleted and are a waste of time but we are hoping to do some more marketing to get technical material out there in a more fun way soon!
You place a lot of importance on the local community. Has this always been the case?
I love helping out locally, I have always supported where I can. Charlotte attends the local business club too. We like to find out what’s happening in our area and sponsor where we can!
I’d say the majority of our clients are local. We have some lovely local clients, we want more!!!
You have grown the team considerably! How do you go about recruitment?
We have used social media, Indeed and a recruitment agency to find people so far. We have hired two people through social media and we are hiring our 7th team member at the moment through a recruitment agency. I can’t reveal too much as yet!
How have you found recruiting in lockdown?
We found it possible to recruit in lockdown and found that it’s quite easy to get a feel of someone on Zoom. We are very relaxed in interviews anyway and just ask anything which comes to mind! We find it’s more about the attitude than the knowledge anyway.
Charlotte and I interview together and then, once they accept the job, we try to get them to meet the whole team before they start. It is all quite relaxed with no tests – just an informal chat.
We always explain our vision and culture at the interview as they need to be quite outgoing and confident to fit our business model of being a personal accountant and sometimes that can be hard to find in our industry.
You have had a great period of growth since you launched. What are your plans for the future of the firm?
We are hoping to have our 7th new recruit by the beginning of May and then an apprentice under the new kickstart scheme soon after.
We maybe will open another office in another area but that is a more long-term goal!
What has been the hardest part of building your firm?
The hardest part was quoting and believing our value. Then also the uncertainties and constantly remembering our why. However, I would personally not change anything – I believe it is all a learning curve and experience.
If one of the readers was thinking about starting their own firm tomorrow, what would your 3 top tips be?
That’s a tricky one but my 3 tips would be –
- There is no need to discount. It always ends up being more hard work!
- Be honest and if you get it wrong then re-quote with your existing clients
- Always make it a personal experience. People buy from people!