“The end-of-the-month process used to be terrifying and painful… Now, it’s done in stages throughout the month.” – Will Morris, Alchemy Digital
Alchemy Digital used to be, like many small businesses, concerned about its financial management. The process was onerous, and its figures were always out of date. But not anymore, thanks to a new service that goes way beyond the basic bookkeeping the company had previously been accustomed to.
About the Business
Alchemy Digital, a London-based web and digital design agency, is on an exciting trajectory. Expanding rapidly, its clients include telecoms giant TalkTalk and model Elle Macpherson.
Until early 2015, Alchemy Digital’s accountancy support was limited to a fairly basic bookkeeping service. While the business’s provider conducted VAT returns and ran payroll, it didn’t provide strategic advice or financial management intelligence.
As managing director, Will Morris, explains: “It was very difficult for us to understand, or even see an accurate cash position, except at the point when we submitted a VAT return.
“We’re a web design company – our strengths are in app design and digital strategy… I haven’t got the first clue about accounting. But I recognised the need for more support in this area, rather than just making use of a pure bookkeeping role.”
Will spoke to many firms offering accountancy services, wrapped around cloud-based software. Surprised to find KPMG in the mix, he was initially sceptical: “I thought I may not get a very personal service, and was likely to be bottom of the pile… bigger firms would take priority.”
Despite these early doubts, Will found himself impressed: “Of the four providers we approached to help us, the service that I received in the sales process from KPMG was much more personal… It felt like they had a bit more time to actually learn about me and my business, and where we were in our development.
“The key thing that swung it for me was KPMG’s focus on helping me do what I do want to – deliver great work for my clients and grow the business. What I don’t want to do is spend time on admin and back-office issues!”
Alchemy Digital was immediately assigned an advisor to make on-boarding quick and painless.
KPMG clearly explained how the on-boarding process would work – the part they would play, along with Alchemy Digital’s role. Will comments: “It seemed to be relatively simple for KPMG to move my business from my existing accountant and the QuickBooks software they’d been using.
“I had a very good experience… It was actually a much more bespoke on-boarding process than any of the other providers were able to offer me.”
Now that Alchemy Digital has made the move to KPMG’s Small Business Accounting Service, it’s experiencing many potential benefits, as Will outlines:
Substantial time-savings: “The first benefit has been the amount of time it frees [up] for me… probably a day every two weeks. And no more manual, boring tasks like loading receipts into spreadsheets! I just snap them on my phone and send via an app to KPMG.”
An end to paper chasing: “Previously, I would have to photocopy or scan all of the expenses receipts, and turn them over to my accountant. Often he wouldn’t be able to read something and he’d send it back. It was a very manual process. With KPMG and Xero, it’s now just much easier.”
Less mentally draining: “Before, the end-of-the-month process was terrifying and painful, and it involved far too much of my brain. Now, it’s done in stages throughout the month. At the end of it, all I need do is a pretty simple check over the reports.”
Real-time financial insight: “Previously I had my invoicing in one place, while the VAT returns would be in QuickBooks that only my accountant had access to. I’ve now got confidence in the numbers I’m seeing, because KPMG has helped me get all of my accounts in the same place. I sleep much better, because I have visibility of how we’re performing in real time.”
Alchemy Digital has ambitious growth plans that require outside help, and Will is increasingly turning to KPMG for advice.
As the company is now working with some of the world’s biggest brands, gaining the right legal advice has become evermore important. This year Will plans to tackle pensions and the auto-enrolment process, which can be challenging. He’s also looking into ways he can be more tax-efficient.
“The benefit of working with a firm like KPMG is that all these services are easily available to me from one provider. I can rely on having KPMG not only as my bookkeeper, but also my outsourced financial director rolled into one!”
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