After 12 years with KPMG, Paloma Alos left the firm earlier this year to join her partner, Simon Difford, and run his business.
Difford’s Guide was first established by Simon, one of the world’s foremost experts on spirits and cocktails, in 1997 and is a publishing business working at the heart of the drinks industry. The award winning website (diffordsguide.com) ‘helps discerning drinkers make informed choices on what and where to drink’ and is one of the world’s most visited drinks websites.
In addition to its online presence, the business publishes a range of drinks-related books, including Difford’s Guide to Cocktails that is just about to see its 12th edition published.
Paloma’s and Simon’s clients range from the world’s largest drinks companies to small producers. They offer them in-house writing, photography, design and videography expertise to provide branded content.
Balancing their busy and fast paced lifestyles with client commitments and running the business can be a challenge. As Paloma says: “Our clients always come first. Whether this involves Simon visiting a cognac distillery to gather content for an editorial feature, or the Brand Ambassador for a global bourbon brand making cocktail films in our private bar, the demands on our time are considerable. The mechanics of running the business and ensuring our accounts are in order are obviously vital, but without the luxury of an in-house accountant we’re reliant on our external providers as we simply don’t have the time or expertise.”
When Paloma joined the business one of the first things she did was review the services received from the current accountants. “It was clear to me that there must be more cost-effective and efficient ways to deliver what we needed.” Even though they paid a bookkeeper, the information was quickly out of date, leaving them without a clear picture of their cash flow and P&L.
Making the move
While Paloma was still at KPMG, she spotted a message on the Hub, from Iain Moffatt, which highlighted how KPMG had launched a new accounting service specifically for small businesses.
She put in a call to the SBA team to find out more. She knew that moving accountants would be a significant decision for the business and wanted to ensure that the transition would be smooth and hassle free. She explains: “Simon and I had a lot of questions about how the service would suit our particular business and how the transition would happen. From the very first call KPMG held our hand through the switching process and after a short period of back and forth, we were set up and had transferred payroll, bookkeeping, tax services and company secretarial requirements. It was by pure chance that I happened to read Iain’s Hub post, as I otherwise wouldn’t have guessed that KPMG would have a service so well suited to the needs of our small business.”
Real-time understanding as to how the business is truly performing: “Previously, our bookkeeper updated Sage once a month, so I had no ability to see in real-time the status of our accounts. But now with the Xero online portal (included as part of the Small Business Accounting service) I can clearly see and track what’s owed and when payments are due. It’s also really helpful to be able to view reports on P&L, cashflow and our balance sheet. The real-time information helps us manage our business in a more time efficient way…very important for a small business which requires our time to be spent with clients and building our reputation in the industry…not on admin.”
“This was a big surprise to me. I felt we were paying too much to our previous accountants for the relatively simple nature of our accounts and the level of service received. Even so, the KPMG service is incredibly good value. And because it’s a monthly fixed fee, I always know what I’ll be paying for.”
“While the team looking after our accounts is a virtual team based in Glasgow, meaning I’m unlikely to meet them in person, it’s not a concern. Simon and I have clients all around the world and are used to building trusted relationships over the ‘phone and email. It’s the same with our KPMG team – I have a good line of communication with my dedicated accountant, Joseph. There’s no question too small or big and he’ll always come back within a few hours with the answer if he doesn’t know straightaway.”
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