StriveX is owned by soon-to-be husband and wife, Rachel and James. They met at a Top 100 firm and are now striving to right the wrongs they experienced there. We talk: totally transparent pay, hoodies with awesome puns and, of course, AccountancyManager.
James incorporated StriveX in 2017 and worked alone for the first 18 months, while Rachel began her MBA. Today, StriveX has two offices, over 350 clients and a team of (almost) nine.
“This time last year it was just me and James with 50 clients. Now we have 357 clients and our 9th member of staff is about to start.”
“We met at a top 100 firm,” begins Rachel. “Working there was amazing, but people were frustrated about pay not being transparent or consistent. So, if you had a degree, even if it was in geography, you’d get paid a couple of £1000 more.”
“We both trained as trainees and did the £3-an-hour hustle – that’s something we really don’t want anyone to have to experience!”
“There were frustrations from the clients too. They were dealing with a different person in a different department every time. They felt like they didn’t have one point of contact and they were repeating themselves.”
The StriveX promise: Transparent, consistent pay and one point of contact
“James and I sat down and analysed what was going wrong in the big firms that have scaled quickly and how we could reverse engineer it. Things like staff wellbeing and paying staff. We pay staff 8% more than the going rate of that role, not the trainee version of that role.”
“Everybody’s pay goes up by £500 with every exam that they pass because they immediately become more valuable to us.”
“We have a pay matrix that everybody has access to. And our own internal staff do our payroll because we have absolutely no problem with anybody seeing our payroll. Then, from a client side, we make sure that clients know who their accountant is and that as long as the staff are with us, their accountant will not change.”
Instagrammers and YouTubers need accountants too
Many StriveX clients are social media influencers. These ‘content creators’ have thousands (if not millions) of followers and make money through advertising, sponsorship and merchandise.
“That dashboard, every time I log in, telling me how many clients I’ve got and how many prospects are in the pipeline is amazing.’
Rachel’s no stranger to social media herself, the vast majority of her clients have found her through Instagram. (She loves the fact she can customise referral fields in AccountancyManager to track these leads.)
Rachel has set up Accountant_She as her online brand. “Within AccountantShe, I do a lot of public speaking and I’ve done a TEDx Talk. I wanted something pink, fluffy, that reflects my personality and is punny and funny.”
Check out Rachel’s accountancy puns apparel over on Etsy:
AccountancyManager? Everything you need from day one
As a manager in a big firm, James managed a lot of clients, so he knew he’d need practice management software right away. “James took on AccountancyManager within his first 10 clients,” says Rachel. “We have one job and that’s to never miss a deadline. That’s what practice management software can do for you over and above a spreadsheet, which could fail.
“Coming from a practice where you had to post a letter of engagement to somebody, get it signed and get it back… Being able to use AM to run our practice, keep our timesheets and work out our profitability, but also has a Client Portal. And onboards the client in a way where they don’t realise you’ve only got 10 clients… is amazing.”
Managing a growing hierarchy and two offices
Going from two to nine staff, and 10 to over 350 clients, in just under two years has called for some serious organisation – and flexibility.
“In terms of scaling, AccountancyManager has been incredible. When it was just the two of us, there was one portfolio. Now we have four staff who have their own portfolios and James as the partner. Then some of those members of staff manage other staff underneath them.”
“To have the partner oversee everything, the managers oversee their clients, the people they manage and their clients and tasks – is incredible.”
“At the big firm we worked at, you had to be ACCA qualified or a trainee manager to have your own portfolio of clients. That was something that never made sense to us. Even as a junior accountant, you can still build really good relationships. So every single accountant that comes on board is allocated clients to work with.”
Give the impression you’re all on the same page (because you are)
In AccountancyManager, any emails you send to your clients – or recieve, are automatically filed within AM under the relevant client. This stops anyone from contacting clients unnecessarily or having to ask colleagues questions. Especially handy if your team is in different locations.
“Now we’ve scaled physically over two offices and communication can’t be somebody saying a client’s name and somebody else saying, ‘Oh yeah. I spoke to them yesterday’. We absolutely had to prioritise the way we’re communicating and recording that communication as a practice.
“It immediately makes that client feel you know who they are, you know what’s going on, and you’re really hot on what is happening.”
“The email integration within AccountancyManager is amazing. That means that Natasha, who answers the phone, can pull up the client on AccountancyManager and see that their accountant has just emailed them with some VAT queries. So immediately knows what they’re talking about and says, ‘Oh yeah, I know Alex has just emailed you, I’ll put you through to him’”.
Visibility of all communication – even the weird and wonderful
Within each client’s file in AccountancyManager, you’ll find a Client Timeline. This records all kinds of things that happen in relation to that client, such as when they’ve signed a document in their Client Portal. It also records any communication between your team and the client, such as emails, texts – and any notes or uploads you want to add.
“James has oversight on what deadlines are coming up and we all use the notes sections as well to communicate with each other.”
“Some clients communicate with us in weird and wonderful ways,” Rachel smiles. “Voice notes, WhatsApps, Instagram messages. So using the Client Timeline within AccountancyManager to record their communication over and above just emails and calls is really, really useful.”
Pausing automated emails – in case you’d rather call
AccountancyManager can automatically send record requests to your clients at the right time, for VAT, Self Assessment, CIS, Payroll… any services you offer. You can choose for these to go automatically, or you can pause the queue and check the emails and recipients over first.
“We have the automatic sending paused,” says Rachel. “Some people don’t read emails and prefer you to call them. So we have the automation settings turned on, but they go into the queue section and then we can choose. So we use them to prompt us to review whether or not we want to chase a client and how.”
“Clients want to be chased. They literally think they’re paying you so that they don’t miss a deadline. Right? So chase them.”
”I think a lot of business owners are worried about missing something and they look to us to remind them, so they want to be chased!”
One mince pie away from a fully branded Client Portal
AccountancyManager includes a Client Portal with built-in e-signing. Your clients can log in to their portal to access, sign or download documents anytime – and check their accounting deadlines. This portal is free and you can add your logo and change a few colours.
“We’re about to transition over to the branded portal because we love the portal. Clients really love it.”
Now we’ve ‘white-labelled’ the portal. This means you can choose to completely rebrand it, so it looks like another page of your website. You can add a background image, your own URL (web address) and your clients won’t see a sniff of AccountancyManager anywhere.
“I’m about one mince pie away from paying for the branded portal! I have a lot of accountancy-practice-owner friends. One of them did it and said it was incredible. Our brand and people’s perception of our brand is very strong, so when people go onto a green portal, we’re like, “ah…”
Rachel’s advice for getting AccountancyManager
“Do it as soon as possible. If you have it there from the very beginning, you can use the insight and data to grow your business. It could be that you think you’re taking on clients from certain referral sources, but you run a report and actually you’re taking on clients through Google search or QuickBooks directory.”
“For a member of the accounts team, AM is their Bible. It’s their to-do list, their central record, their communication.”
“We open AccountancyManager before we open our emails… and that’s the headline! Because AccountancyManager has everything that we need to know. It’s so intuitive, it isn’t difficult to use and so it’s very easy to train people on it. And you learn more and more, the more you use it.”
“We knew we were going to scale. AccountancyManager was able to help us grow our business in that way.”