Firm of the Future Profile: Legacy Advantage
Welcome to another in a series of profiles spotlighting the 2016 Firm of the Future finalists. This edition features Bob Wang of Legacy Advantage, one of the Canadian contest finalists. Stay tuned for more information on how to enter this year’s Firm of the Future contest and continue visiting our blog often.
Danielle Ernst: Hi Bob. First, share a little bit about Legacy Advantage.
Bob Wang: My name is Bob Wang, CPA, and I am the founder of Legacy Advantage, a bookkeeping company based in Vancouver, Canada. During my time at KPMG, I worked with enterprise and small businesses that didn’t have competent bookkeepers year-round, so it was a big challenge to fix mistakes at the end of the year. Then, I started Legacy Advantage CPA Ltd. in September 2015, with the goal of becoming the most trusted and competent bookkeeping company in Canada.
We specialize in bookkeeping services for not-for-profit organizations, tech companies and trades. We have about 50 clients that are served by our super-friendly associates, who are all either CPAs or CPA students. We have a rigorous interview process that helps us select the best, most upbeat bookkeeping talent in Vancouver.
We are passionate about helping our clients establish long-term success, and strive to become the most trusted and most competent bookkeeping company in Canada by helping businesses make great decisions that will create lasting legacies. Ultimately, we want to help our clients make great decisions, based on accurate and intelligent financial information, so that go they can create organizations that last generations.
Although Legacy is a CPA firm, we focus on providing the best bookkeeping experience and create value by empowering our clients around their finances. Anytime we start with a new client, we guide them through a value chain to educate them about their finances and show how we can be a strategic advisor for their business.
Our first step is peace of mind, where we focus on ensuring year-round accuracy and compliance so that the client never has to worry about where they stand. The second step is clarity, where we walk our clients through their financial statements so that they understand what the numbers mean. The last step is intelligence, where we analyze financial information and provide strategic advice so that our clients can refocus their efforts on the highest value-producing activities.
DE: What apps do you use for your firm? Which app(s) do you recommend most frequently?
BW: One of my favorite third-party apps is Rotessa, which has been a game changer for us as a firm. It is a direct debit app that allows us to automatically invoice a client. We are trying to implement the app with a daycare client because they struggle with collecting checks from people and then only deposit them once a month. This increases the risk that checks might bounce back, and isn't an efficient way to manage financials. Rotessa is great because as long as the client gets a voided check, they can directly withdrawal for ad hoc services.
Plooto is another game-changing app, especially for nonprofits, which makes up the majority of our client base. Nonprofits traditionally get paid when the bookkeeper prints a check and supporting documents, which have to be signed by two board members, and only then are they mailed out – a cumbersome process when board members are not located near each other. Plooto eliminates all of that – it digitizes all of the checks and supporting documents, and as the bookkeeper, you just have to notify the board member to digitally sign and they can just approve the checks with a click of button. Now, I can collect and pay directly through ETF's, saving me time and money.
DE: How did you introduce value pricing to your clients? What was their reaction, and what changes have you seen in the way you collaborate with them?
BW: We do an in-depth assessment of our clients, with a list of 15 questions. Sometimes, the probe goes a bit deeper, but it helps us better understand what motivates our clients (personally and professionally) so that we can create a plan that works best for them, and then we set a fee that all of us can agree on.
Value billing totally aligned with our firm’s values because it makes sure that I’m on my client’s team and we’re on the same page. When you bill per hour, you would be incentivized to do same job as long as possible, but if we charge a flat fee, we’re incentivized to fix a problem as quickly and correctly as possible. It gives us more incentive to find new ways to do things, save time and go online. Plus, the clients benefit because they know how much they are going to pay each month. It's a win-win!
DE: How do you find new clients, or how do they find your firm?
BW: We mainly receive new clients by referral, or from the contact form on our website, and, typically, follow up via phone or email. Whenever we get a new client, we welcome them with a post on our social media channels to not just celebrate our win, but also to promote our client's business.
DE: What future invention are you most looking forward to?
BW: Teleportation! We have two offices now and we drive around a lot. At the end of the day, people still appreciate face to face, so for the first couple meetings with new clients, we travel a lot.
DE: Any favorite client stories worth sharing?
BW: Job costing was very important for one of our clients, and before they started working with us, they did everything in Excel and would have 300 different Excel documents for 300 different jobs. At the end of the day, they would have a hard time analyzing jobs at the business level.
We helped them bring everything into QuickBooks®, which helped them so much at end of the year. We were able to easily analyze profitability and open a particular job for more details, such as the expenses that went into that job. We were also able to give them tremendous visibility into the operations of their business, not to mention accessibility of their data online anytime, anywhere and in real time.
DE: What advice would you give to a firm trying to transition from their old ways to become a Firm of the Future?
BW: Never settle. We’re a simple firm, but there is a lot of energy and intention into keeping it simple. For example, a flat fee is much simpler than tracking hours, but it takes a lot of intention to determine the scope and price.
The human and culture aspect is also important – everyone needs to have attitude of innovation. We’re always looking for new ways to improve our clients and ourselves, and we need people that embrace a similar mindset. We grew from 0 to 13 full-time employees in two years, mostly because we hire the right people. In the beginning, there were some people that were good at desktop, but couldn’t accept online. If an accounting firm wants to grow into a Firm of the Future, then I would make sure they have the right people: those who embrace technology.