Like the trains it advises on, IPEX Consulting has big plans to go places. But with a vision to double its profits every year for the next three years, the railway engineering consultancy knows it needs effective financial management to keep moving forwards.
Cue a new financial controller who, with the support of KPMG’s Small Business Accounting (SBA) service, is helping ensure IPEX’s growth plans don’t hit the buffers.
About the Business
With 19 years of rail sector experience under his belt, IPEX Consulting’s CEO founded the company in 2003, using his practical working knowledge and expertise to advise on and support a wide range of rail projects. Now employing a team of consultants, IPEX specialises in rolling stock engineering, depot strategy, fleet maintenance and operations. It also offers guidance on designing the specification and business case for new train operations, and on the effective delivery of rail franchise bids.
IPEX might have an ambitious growth plan, but for its senior managers, having their financial house in order is a key part of keeping on track with that goal.
To this end, the company has employed a new financial controller, Cecilia Lindh – a self-confessed “details person” with a background in large corporates who, since starting her new role in September 2015, has spent much time unpicking IPEX’s finances to understand how best to take the company forward.
The trigger for the move to KPMG’s SBA service came three months before Cecilia joined IPEX.
“[Our team] were not happy with the last provider,” she explains. “They offered the full range of accounting services, including payroll – providing a very similar package to what we have today [with SBA].”
It was KPMG’s brand reputation that ultimately convinced her predecessor to make the move from the old provider, she says. “I’ve worked with KPMG in the past and have always had high expectations, which [they] have delivered on.”
Cecilia believes the move to KPMG has brought with it several advantages – specifically:
Knowledgeable, personalised support: “I’m the only finance person here at IPEX, and our KMPG accountant provides a very good sounding board to know that I am doing the right things. It’s not only been about day-to-day accounting, but [also] the cleaning up of historic ledgers. It’s been good to have two pairs of eyes on things,” she says – adding that additional support from other KPMG departments is only ever an email away. “When I had a particular tax question recently, our accountant quickly arranged for me to talk to a tax colleague, which was useful. You can find the answers to these questions yourself, but if you haven’t worked with tax for a while, it’s good to be assured you have the right one. KPMG puts some weight behind it.”
Round-the-clock access: “I work really weird hours sometimes as I have a family to manage at home as well as my job,” she reveals. “With [SBA’s cloud-based accounting platform] Xero, I can work where and when I want… I can raise invoices and download reports 24/7.”
A quick and easy way to manage receipts: The ReceiptBank function within Xero has been particularly useful for Cecilia’s colleagues, who travel extensively with work. “They like that they are able to use their mobile phones to [administer] receipts: that they can just take a photo of a receipt and drag and drop it into ReceiptBank,” she says – adding that the fact the system automatically codes the majority of those receipts saves her doing the job manually. “Receipt coding is not the best use of my time. Now I can [use that time to] do spot checks and can focus in on what it is on the actual receipt – managing the money rather than coding.”
A reputation that can be relied upon: “We’re a relatively small company at the moment, but this will be very useful for me as we start to grow,” she remarks. “It’s always good to have the stability of a big brand name behind you, for audits and potential investors… It looks good to have a big company dealing with your numbers. People trust it better.”
“Part of the reason I was hired was to see how we could scale the business upwards,” Cecilia explains. “We’re still in the starting block, looking towards that goal. But we are getting into position to grow.”
Supported by KPMG SBA’s fresh new approach to accounting, at least IPEX can be assured it won’t get sidetracked by financial management. It’s now full steam ahead for this team of railway experts.
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