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Whisky Group Selects Wolters Kluwer for Its Cloud-Based Accounting

Loch Lomond, part of the Loch Lomond Group, has selected Wolters Kluwer’s online accounting service Twinfield UK, for its cloud accounting platform. The independent distiller and blender of some of the finest and rarest scotch whiskies in the world will use the solution across its two distillery sites in Campbeltown and Alexandria and its warehouse site in Ayrshire, Scotland.

The company chose Wolters Kluwer as it required a cloud accounting solution that could be implemented easily and quickly ahead of its new financial year.

“We needed a solution that could be implemented across multiple sites – as our users are not always based at the same location,” says Laura Cummings, Financial Controller at Loch Lomond. “Previously our accounting system had to be locally installed at each site in order for staff to gain access. This could be particularly frustrating if staff needed to access information from home or from a different site to where they were usually based.”

Cummings continues, “I had used Wolters Kluwer’s Twinfield online accounting service at my previous company, therefore I was confident that it would meet our requirements and that the team of six would be able to work from the same system, enabling any changes to be automatically updated and shared across users. Prior to using Twinfield, one member would have had to make updates on a central system which was both time consuming and also limiting to how much could be done.”

Having implemented the cloud solution in October, Loch Lomond is already seeing a number of benefits – not least that they are now more productive due to the time savings they have made using Twinfield. In addition, they are able to run regular reports in order to help bring greater connectivity, collaboration and intelligence to business and financial planning.

Cummings explains, “We’re now able to capture data instantly at a customer level providing valuable insight into trends. Previously we would have had to do this offline and it might have taken a week to gather all of the information. We are using Twinfield as a database, capturing all the data at the source and then using the time we have gained to add additional value to the business.”

Diane Williams, Interim Head of Twinfield UK at Wolters Kluwer, comments: “Cloud accounting is helping organisations such as Loch Lomond to gain greater insight for business and financial planning. It also brings speed, accessibility and ease of use to users right across the organisation and empowers those using the system with real-time data to support operational and strategic decision-making.”

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Taking it international: how businesses can prepare for going global

Expanding a business into other countries can be a powerful growth driver – exploring new territories can bring many new opportunities for businesses. Clearly there are a number of challenges around business processes and compliance issues that any organisation will face when trading overseas. Financial practices vary, with exporters having to consider different tax regimes and accounting and audit standards and practices

Within this accounting context, the most progressive organisations will be those that leverage technology to help accelerate progress and facilitate growth.  Cloud-based accounting solutions can help to empower organisations, providing deeper insights into their markets and customers, helping to transform processes and drive efficiencies in undertaking cross-border business.

In the same way that market research is vital before any expansion into overseas markets can be considered, from an accounting perspective organisations should treat the move into international trade as a separate accounting model. Not only do businesses need to develop tax management and financial reporting plans to ensure they can achieve sustainable growth in specific territories, their accounting practices should be capable of handling cross-border processes. For example reporting requirements in France can be completely different to those in the UK, Spain, Italy etc. However, businesses may also want to consolidate into a group reporting standard so understanding this is vital.

Of course an organisation looking to take its business international must ensure that it has the correct documentation for legal requirements under import and export licensing controls. However what happens when they expand into that country or countries and then need access to the day to day business documents, needed to control and project the financial viability both in the individual country and as a group? Having this information available and stored in a secure and accessible format can pay immediate dividends.

Record keeping remains an important consideration when going global. Information reporting will of course vary depending on the size and complexity of the organisation however having clear, comprehensive and accessible documentation will be invaluable should they need to be accessed for regulatory purposes or for decision making exercises.

Having information available at all times in the cloud can bring major operational efficiencies to help drive success overseas. It can help to automate processes, remove onerous and unnecessary data entry and close the time gap between input and output. Crucially, it also provides organisations with consistent reporting templates and consistent data.

In some cases, moving to a cloud-based accounting system, has enabled businesses to cut the time it takes to complete their statutory accounts in all jurisdiction – from around two weeks to just two days. Any time saved through improved accounting and reporting strategies can be re-invested in other areas of the business such as analysis and queries.

Any business is likely to face challenges when expanding overseas. By having the right technology in place, it can prepare for the many pitfalls and help to minimise costs, transform processes and drive growth globally.

Press Release

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Grovelands Recruits Twinfield UK and InTime Solution

Brighton-based recruitment company integrates Baker Tilly’s InTime recruitment package with Twinfield’s online accounting solution for greater efficiency.

Brighton-based Grovelands, a leading UK recruitment company specialising in financial services for contract and permanent recruitment, has successfully integrated Wolters Kluwer’s online accounting system Twinfield UK for its operations with Baker Tilly’s InTime, the web-based timesheet pay and bill software.

Although recruitment systems have previously been integrated with one another, this is the first time that a complete cloud-based back office system has been available to recruitment agencies. It has been made possible by the partnership between Baker Tilly’s InTime solution and Twinfield. Grovelands is one of the first organisations to use the solution.

David-James Marker, Finance Director at Grovelands, says: “Previously we had been using manual systems, which meant that we had to process around 700 to 800 timesheets a week, physically entering the data into our accounting system. This was really labour intensive, slow, inaccurate and also made reporting difficult.

“Having looked around, we really liked the idea that two solutions could be integrated together, along with our CRM system. It was very simple to roll them out and both systems have been well received within our organisation and by our clients. However, ultimately it came down to the technology and how simple and easy it is to use.

As a result Grovelands has been able to increase efficiencies within its finance team, reassigning roles and responsibilities, and no longer having to do so much of the manual work such as entering data — so its employees can strengthen their focus on data analysis. “It has been very beneficial to have that insight and has meant that our employees are much happier in their roles as they can focus on the more rewarding tasks,” Marker says.

“In addition, management decisions have become much easier using the insight from the two solutions. Our margin reports, which we run on a weekly basis, now produce management information that is 100% accurate. This is vital when planning our business growth.”

Charles Harrington, Associate Director at Baker Tilly in Bury St Edmunds, says: “Many recruitment businesses are beginning to realise that they can make significant efficiency gains by moving their back office to the cloud. Grovelands has been able to benefit from greater automation of processes, improved accuracy, better visibility over their operations through real-time reporting, and improved collaboration with all participants of the pay and bill process while achieving significant time and costs savings. All this comes happily from the knowledge that their software will be constantly and automatically updated.”

Diane Williams, Managing Director of Twinfield UK, says: “Historically, recruitment solutions have been quite disparate. However using the Twinfield and InTime solutions together, users will have real-time visibility, improved integration between systems and greater collaboration. It will deliver significant cost savings as there will be no need for manual processes or the costly expense of upgrading on-premises systems.”

For more information on Baker Tilly’s recruitment sector services visit: www.bakertilly.co.uk/services/outsourcing/Pages/Recruitment-timesheet-pay-and-bill-solutions.aspx 

Press Release

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UK Growth Funding Specialist Moves To Cloud-Based Accounting Using Twinfield

UK-based business growth funding specialist, the FSE Group, has selected Twinfield UK, Wolters Kluwer’s online accounting service, for its cloud accounting platform.

The FSE Group provides bespoke funding solutions to help small and medium enterprises reach their maximum potential, as well as Social Impact Funds targeted at a diverse range of businesses, organisations and communities. The organisation selected Twinfield as it required a more efficient solution that could help to meet regulatory demand. 

“We operate in a highly regulated environment so it was vital for us to choose a solution that could help us to comply with regulations and which could provide a complete audit trail of all our financial data,” says Dale Huxford, Group Finance Manager at the FSE Group. “We were recommended to approach Twinfield as the result of a review by Menzies chartered accountants, and have found that it provides us with the capabilities and reassurance we need.”  

The FSE Group is the umbrella brand for FSE C.I.C., a community interest company made up of 18 separate companies. This presented a considerable challenge when it came to accounting. It was seeking an automated system to help create efficiencies, particularly when it came to intercompany transactions. With some of its activities regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the FSE Group has to be confident about where its data is held, who is holding it and how it is backed up.

“This is a requirement of the Data Protection Act and Twinfield’s security and independent audit certification was a vital part of our decision to move to a cloud-based system,” says Dale Huxford.   

“Before introducing Twinfield we were using an alternative system that was unable to provide the advanced level of reporting that we have now. The account structure and reporting tools within Twinfield are easier to navigate and review, which provides us with the capacity to efficiently grow our business.   

The FSE Group discovered that an online accounting system was easy to adapt to, and the level of reporting it was able to achieve improved its service offering for clients. The organisation is now working on developing a tailored version that will integrate its loan management system with Twinfield to create one complete solution.

Huxford says: “It is crucial for us to move with the times and to make the best use of the resources available to us. A cloud-based accounting system allows us to provide clients with a clearer view of what is happening and have information available to us in real-time, enabling us as a group to make better decisions.”

Barbara Kroll, managing director of Twinfield UK, says: “As demonstrated by FSE C.I.C, online accounting can help transform the dynamics of an organisation and improve efficiency, profitability and growth. The most effective growth driver in the next decade will almost certainly be cloud-based technology and it is essential, especially in such a highly regulated sector as finance, to choose a solution that can meet the demands of a particular business.”

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Latest Wolters Kluwer Research Shows Over 8 In 10 UK Accountants Engage In Social Media

Key findings:

  • 83% of UK accountants surveyed now use social media sites (almost 8% up on 2013)
  • 100% of under 30s engage in social media – and 55% of over 60s
  • The popularity of mobile devices continues to rise: only 18% of respondents say they never use a mobile phone to access social media sites
  • The majority of accountants surveyed say they are listeners (76%), not contributors (24%)

The latest annual survey by Wolters Kluwer shows that the use of social media by UK accountants has seen a surge, up by almost 8% in the space of a year.

The Wolters Kluwer UK Social Media Survey, which sampled the views of 1300 accountants during October and November 2014, found that 83% of respondents are now using social media sites for professional and/or personal use. When the research was first conducted three years ago, the reported figure was just 69%.

Although social media was well established for personal use in 2011 it was a minority interest among accountancy firms. Now most large commercial companies and many accountancy firms have their own Twitter account.

“As a result, instead of asking ‘do I need to bother with social media?’ an increasing number of accountancy practices are asking about the best way to use social media,” say the report’s authors. “It is against this background that the Wolters Kluwer UK Social Media Survey has been conducted.”

Mobility rules

To reflect the growing importance of mobile access, respondents were asked not just whether they accessed social media via PCs, phones and tablets but to state their preferences. Only 18% of those answering this question say they never access social media using a phone and less than a third (29%) say they never use a tablet.

                                       Never        Sometimes        Usually
Desktop or laptop           3%            46%                   51%
Tablet                              29%          44%                   27%
Mobile phone                  18%           36%                   46%

Age, frequency and gender

Overall more than eight in 10 survey respondents use some form of social media in either their professional or personal lives and the growing trend in usage is seen across all age groups:

  • Under 30: 100%
  • Under 40: 94%
  • Over 40: 79%
  • Over 60: 55%

Accountants are also visiting social media sites more often. This year a third (33%) say they visit several times a day (19% in 2011) and another third visit at least once a day.

As seen in previous Wolters Kluwer social media surveys, usage is higher among women. This year 89% of women report using it in either their personal or professional lives, as against 80% of men.

Listening and contributing

The vast majority of respondents characterise themselves as ‘listeners’ rather than ‘contributors’ to the social media world. In the previous three years the survey has been conducted the split has remained mostly static at 80:20 in favour of listeners. In the 2014 report the ratio has shifted slightly to 76:24. This suggests more accountants are using social media as a promotional platform rather than simply a way gathering intelligence and information from others.

Among those that do not use social media at all, the largest group (58%) simply say they are not interested. The next largest group (33%) fail to see any benefit. When the survey was first conducted in 2011, 18% of respondents excused themselves on the grounds that they did not know how social media worked; the figure in 2014 has fallen to 11%.

In their additional comments a few respondents cite concerns over privacy, a reluctance to share information with others, and the dislike of being contacted by people they would not want to do business with.

Social media influence

LinkedIn: Ever since the first Wolters Kluwer UK Social Media Survey in 2011, LinkedIn has consistently been rated the most important website for professional use, with networking the clear winner for usage. However, only 27% of respondents say they use LinkedIn for building their commercial operations.

Twitter: Usage has risen slightly among accountants in 2014, with 50% of respondents using it in their social or business lives and over a quarter (26%) for business alone. The most popular use is following individuals, groups and companies, followed by sharing knowledge and letting people know what they are doing. The influence of accountants in social media is also growing, with 53% saying they have more than 100 followers. Over a quarter (28%) have more than 400 followers.

Facebook: The use of this virtually all-consuming site for personal communication and networking still remains low for business purposes. Although 80% of the Wolters Kluwer UK survey respondents use Facebook, just 18% of them do so for professional reasons and only 3% maintain an account solely for business purposes. Of those that do, generating business was the most popular use, just behind letting people know what they are doing.

Blogs: Although they have the longest history of any types of social media, weblogs have consistently been one of the least used. Although usage figures are up slightly in 2014, over three-quarters (78%) do not use blogs at all.

Google+: Almost three-quarters of respondents do not use Google+ at all, three years after its launch. The proportion using it for professional purposes remains unchanged from 2013 at 14%.

“The simple truth is that the online conversation people are having about their accounting and tax needs will happen whether or not you take part in them,” the report’s authors conclude. “Social media sites play a valuable role in helping tax and accounting professionals share and acquire knowledge, establish their credentials, and extend and maintain their professional network.”

More information

Wolters Kluwer UK Social Media Survey 2014: How accountants are using social media for marketing and promotion. Published December 2014. The survey can be downloaded from www.cch.co.uk/content/wolters-kluwer-social-media-survey-2014

 Press Release