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Articles | firms-in-the-spotlight

Firms in the spotlight: Nephos

Nephos was founded by Joe David and is a technology focussed digital accountancy firm based in Cheltenham. The firm embraces digital technology and uses online cloud software to work with clients in order to make a real difference to their businesses. They use a wide range of apps to ensure that they focus on providing real-time advice and support for their clients, as well as delivering their statutory compliance requirements.

Nephos operates on a fixed fee basis and predominantly use Xero accounting software for their clients. The team has grown over the years and now stands at 8 comprising of Joe, 4 accountants, a digital transformation specialist, an apprentice and an administration assistant.

We met up with Joe David to find out a little more about the background of Nephos, how he runs his business and his goals for the future.

So why did you decide to start your own accountancy practice? Did you work in practice before?

“I started Nephos because I wanted to service clients with more advisory based services rather than the standard compliance-based services typically provided by an accountant. When I started the firm, technology was just at the beginning of its journey and whilst I knew we could provide more advice to clients, it was very time consuming to provide this advice. The introduction of technology has enabled us to automate a significant amount of data entry meaning we can offer more solid advice to our clients.

I have run Nephos for nearly 6 years now, prior to this I worked in industry for various manufacturing businesses gaining a vast amount of experience.

I have now been in the accounting industry for over a decade and have seen a huge amount of change over that time!”

You were previously called DS Accountancy. Why did you decide to rebrand your firm to Nephos?

“DS Accountancy always included an element of my name (David) in the title and we wanted the firm to be more than just about me as the owner. We also needed both internal and external stakeholders to understand the direction which the business was taking and the new branding shows that. We also wanted a standalone brand that stood out amongst our peers!”

Did you ever consider setting up a firm with other partners or did you always plan to do it on your own?

“I did initially have a partner but he did not match my work ethic or desire to grow a successful firm so we parted ways amicably early on. I do have a business coach who supports me both personally and in the business. I also have a great team who love to get involved and help!”

Technology is clearly at the heart of your business, what core software do you use and why?

“Our key software start point is Xero and this is the hub of everything we do! Then our onboarding process includes Practice Ignition and Karbon.

Our app stack comprises of a wide range of apps including Receipt Bank, Pleo, Digital banking solutions, Fathom, Futrli, Clarity as well as others. All the apps we select have been extensively trialled and tested with our philosophy in mind. We never ‘sell’ an app and ensure it is right for a client before offering it to them.”

You offer a range of services to your clients including one you call ‘Your Business Journey’ which uses data to help a client achieve their goals. Can you expand on that for us?

“Our focus is on helping a client achieve their goals and this philosophy is across all our services.

The business journey service includes offering support through start up, growth and sale – utilising partners we have built relationships with to support this. We start every prospective meeting asking our client what they envision for their business and personal journey and this supports how we approach working with the client.”

Who is your ideal client and why?

“Our ideal client is a business which has a turnover of between £250k and £2m and looking to use technology to assist with business growth.”

So a hot topic is that compliance is dead (or at least fees are being squeezed). Do you agree with this statement and how are you addressing this issue – or is it an opportunity?

“I agree that compliance fees will be squeezed and I also agree that they should be as they offer little value. I do not agree however that compliance is dead. Compliance is the backbone of advisory and therefore needs to be performed to a high level in order to offer high level forward looking advice. Accountancy firms who solely focus on compliance will see their business shrink but it will never die.”

What excites you about your business and makes you look forward to coming to work everyday?

“I am excited about the opportunity we have as a business to support our clients using technology. I love my job and love the business we are building so yes I do enjoy coming to work!”

Many people say that they work even harder than ever when they run their own business. Would you agree with this statement?

“I have always had a very strong work ethic and this was part of my decision to set up my own firm. I do agree however that you need to work harder when running a firm as the working day never stops – for example, we are doing this at 10.30pm!”

Given how busy you are, how do you keep track of your appointments and organise your diary and to do list?

“We have an inhouse administrative assistant who assists with organising my diary and also myself! My ‘to do’ list is online on Karbon and I get reminders on my phone to help remember key calls or tasks. We also use Calendly to book meetings.”

You have already mentioned the pace of change in our industry, how do you keep up with all the changes in technology?

“Reading articles, using social media and going to events such as the Digital Accountancy Show! I am lucky in that I am passionate about tech and love learning about it!”

What would be your 3 top tips to an accountant thinking about or who has just set up their own cloud based accountancy firm?

“Number one is definitely to focus on what you wish to achieve for yourself in life and work your business back from this.

Then learn as much as you can about automation in order to streamline the basic tasks so you can focus on supporting clients.

Lastly, love what you do and show passion for it and you will succeed!!”

What do you see as your 3 biggest pain points at the moment?

“These would have to be –

  • A large workload and trying to ensure we keep on top of it.
  • Transitioning existing clients to our new approach.
  • Trying to work out our niche and where we specialise.”

What about the future, where do you see yourself in 10 years time? What are your Ambitions for Nephos?

“We have very large growth ambitions for Nephos and I am excited about the future. We are looking both nationally and internationally!

In 10 years time I see myself as an industry expert on digital tech and the fintech market!”

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