With every new client we bring on, my primary missions are the same: to make their financial processes easier and to help them reach their financial goals.
Invariably, the issue of paper comes up. When most people think of bookkeeping, they probably envision stacks of spiral-bound ledgers and someone inputting piles of checks into a spreadsheet. But that’s the bookkeeping of decades ago.
Today’s bookkeeping is — or at least, should be — streamlined and efficient. Helping our clients go paperless is one of the best things we do for them.
By going digital, we allow them to remove the friction that existed when they were working with paper documents. They now have a centralized location where their documents can be stored and accessed by their whole team. They don’t have to be in the office next to a filing cabinet. They can minimize their space footprint and the costs associated with paper.
Of course, we can’t just tell our clients that going digital is a good idea. We have to provide them with the means to do it easily and effectively. I chose Receipt Bank as our digitization tool because it’s easy to use, it has a mobile app, and its OCR (ability to recognize the characters on documents) is simply the best out there.
We provide Receipt Bank as part of our package for every single Reconciled It customer because we want it to be easy for them to digitize paper and email documents so they can quickly get source documents into their accounting workflow. It’s a central piece of our overall bookkeeping experience.
So I was delighted to speak on a panel recently with Damien Greathead, Vice President of the Global Accountants’ Program at Receipt Bank. And he agreed to answer some of my questions about the company. Think of this as a little inside look at an invaluable business that’s on the rise.
Michael Ly: Where do you see the future of accounting technology headed?
Damien Greathead: First we have to automate as much as possible. Currently there are a lot of manual processes in the accounting function, so we need to connect applications to source all the relevant data, then get to work preparing for an accountants review.
Then we can focus on providing insights into that data — helping business owners better understand the numbers behind their business. Technology will allow more and more of this to be done in real time, the net effect being better business communities.
ML: What impacts do you see apps like Receipt Bank having on accounting firms?
DG: You can’t create or destroy time, so apps like RB unlock that time. The time that was associated with collecting and preparing/processing and managing all of that information can now be reallocated to more valuable tasks like winning new clients, spending more time with you best clients, or just helping restore some work life balance.
ML: Do you think clients’ experience of using accounting firms will change because of apps like Receipt Bank?
DG: I hope they expect more from their accountant and they use accountants to help shape the future of their business, rather than be the scorekeepers for compliance purposes.
ML: How do you recommend that accounting firms adopt a tool like Receipt Bank?
DG: First and foremost, use it in your own firm to get your paperwork/books organized. Then you’ll better understand the benefits and be able to communicate those benefits to clients.
Next, use it to take care of the piles of paper currently in your office. No need to change client behaviors yet, but you can certainly enjoy the benefits across more and more of your clients.
And finally, start to segment your clients: who wants to be mobile first? who loves real time information? These will be your first candidates to get on the mobile app.
ML: How do you view Receipt Bank’s competitive advantage compared to other document capture tools out there?
DG: The turn-around time and accuracy are what immediately separate us from the competition. But it’s also the bookkeeping tools that we’re developing — smart automation rules that not just recognize the data but prepare it for your review. We also want to help accountants and their clients better manage their data, so our archive makes finding documents a breeze, compared to other folder-type document systems. And finally, our management dashboard that sits over the top helps firms better manage their Work in Process in the virtual/cloud environment.
ML: You guys raised $50 million a few months ago – what are you hoping to focus on with the money you raised? How will that serve accounting firms and their clients?
DG: A big thing is bringing key functionality to the table sooner. Previously we had a one-by-one approach to product development. However, now with additional resources we can develop improvements in tandem with others, so you’ll see a faster cadence of new capabilities. For example, our invoice fetch, our bank statement fetch, and our expense approvals have all happened in a much shorter time span than ever before.
And then we now have resources dedicated to bringing Artificial Intelligence to life. We have access to a ton of data via their source documents, now what insights can we bring to the table to help accountants and bookkeepers help their clients.