Lucy Cohen is the co-founder of Mazuma, the UK’s leading subscription-based accountancy firm based in Bridgend that specialises in providing monthly bookkeeping and accountancy services to micro and small businesses throughout the UK. Founded in 2006 with her co-founder Sophie Hughes, Mazuma has grown over the years and is now a fully digital, multi award winning practice. We caught up with Lucy to find out a little more about the firm they have created.
Lucy, can you tell me a bit about yourself and why you decided to set up your own accountancy firm?
I’d spotted a gap in the market for low cost, easy to use accountancy services. I came from a family of creatives and saw that their size of business was poorly served by traditional accountancy firms, so I worked to create something to fix that!
How big is the firm now with regards to the number of offices, staff and clients?
We have around 2,000 clients across the UK and about 30 staff. Your firm is quite unusual in that your niche is small and micro businesses.
Did you plan to focus on this area from the outset or has this arisen over time?
It’s always been an area that we wanted to focus on. I believe in picking a lane when it comes to a business model, so this was ours. It was important that we were experts in a specific area so this was the niche we selected.
You operate on a low cost, subscription based model which is quite unusual for accountancy firms. What have you found to be the hardest parts of implementing this approach?
You have to maintain a razor sharp focus on who the correct client is and only ever work with them otherwise the numbers just don’t stack up. It is also essential that we have water-tight processes to make sure that the work is completed in line with our strict service level agreements. Processes must be key for this model to work.
How are tasks managed within the office?
We use a pretty heavy duty practice management solution to manage the workflows. We also automate where we can and we are currently building our own technology to further increase efficiencies internally and help deliver our customer service.
What services do you provide for your clients?
As part of the subscription clients get everything from bookkeeping all the way through to year end accounts and tax.
We focus on general compliance with added customer support. Our mantra has always been “put your paperwork in an envelope and we’ll do the rest”. And even today, with our app we have a virtual purple envelope for clients to use, so we’ve kept that core value at the heart of what we do.
Do you provide additional services if a client requires a piece of work outside your core offering?
Not usually. We work with trusted partners to deliver additional support where needed, but because of how honed our sales and marketing process is, we don’t often engage with clients that need things outside of what we offer. That’s all part of operating a successful subscription model!
Your team must have to operate very efficiently for your business to run smoothly, how is it structured? Are they all “traditional” accountants?
The team all hold the usual array of qualifications but no one who works for us is “traditional”! We challenge our staff to think outside the box and put themselves firmly into the clients shoes – all while adhering to pretty tight turnaround times! Clients are assigned to a “pod” of two or three people who look after them. The pods maintain the client relationship and report to management who oversee the overall delivery of the service. We have quite a flat structure which works well for what we deliver.
What role do you have within the firm?
My role is to be the lead on business development, sales and marketing.
Technology is the heart of your business so what are the core products that you use in your firm?
We use the Thomson Reuters Digita suite as our main go-to for CRM and tax. We harness Receipt Bank for data extraction and then we have developed our own technology for the day to day!
You must need to monitor your metrics very closely. What are the key productivity metrics you measure?
We monitor transaction numbers (per client and team), email and phone response times, tax return progress against deadlines and the same for accounts and CT600. As well as a host of others!
How often do you measure these and how do you use these?
We use most of these for operations on an hourly basis, and then report on them at the end of the month for our meetings so we can see month by month progress and address any patterns that it throws up.
What are your plans for the business over the next 3-5 years?
Our plan is to hit 10,000 clients!