Firm of the Future Profile: Reconciled It
Welcome to another in a series of profiles spotlighting the 2016 Firm of the Future finalists. This edition features Michael Ly of Reconciled It. Stay tuned in 2017 for details on how to enter our next Firm of the Future contest and continue visiting our blog often.
Kim Amsbaugh: Congratulations on being a Global Firm of the Future runner-up! Tell us about yourself.
Michael Ly: My name is Michael Ly, and I am CEO of Reconciled It. We are based in Burlington, Vt., and I launched Reconciled It the summer of 2015, after spending three-and-a-half years doing CFO consulting work in Vermont. I have nine employees and serve small businesses all over the country.
We serve small businesses across the United States. We have a wide range of customers, including professional services companies, digital agencies, niche job boards, makers, consultants, manufacturers, wholesalers and consumer goods. We focus primarily on weekly and monthly bookkeeping and payroll needs, using QuickBooks Online, Receipt Bank and Bill.com.
KA: What makes yours a Firm of the Future?
ML: Our work is done almost completely online, with a work-from-home workforce. We utilize the latest cloud accounting tools and streamline manual- and desktop-based processes.
KA: You mentioned you use Receipt Bank and Bill.com. How do you choose software and app partners before recommending to your clients? Are there other apps you use for your firm?
ML: We test out software and apps ourselves, internally, and sometimes ask a client if they are willing to let us use them as a guinea pig on a new app. We do this in a way that would not impact their actual financial data. While we use Receipt Bank and Bill.com primarily, we have also used PennyPipe, GuruImporter and Transaction Pro Importer. Some of our customers use Stripe, Shopify and Stitch Labs.
KA: How have you saved time for your firm and your clients by leveraging cloud-based accounting technologies?
ML: We have been able to free up the time our clients spend on accounting-related tasks by moving their processes to QuickBooks Online, Receipt Bank and/or Bill.com. This provides our clients better focus on running their business.
KA: What is your advice to clients or other accounting professionals who are hesitant to adopt cloud technologies?
ML: Cloud technology will give you real-time access to your financial data, and free you from a desktop application.
KA: Tell us the impact the cloud has had on your firm, and was it difficult to transition your clients?
ML: We started out as a cloud-based firm, so it has not been difficult. It has been more difficult to say no to potential new customers who want to stay on desktop and have us still serve their bookkeeping needs.
KA: What’s your best advice about getting online today and adopting online technologies?
ML: Just start. If that means deciding on only taking new cloud-based clients and transitioning your current clients slowly, then start there.
KA: It sounds like you have a great relationship with your cloud-based clients. What makes your firm a trusted advisor?
ML: Every one of our clients gets a dedicated bookkeeper who understands and handles their accounting. We do not send clients to a transaction or call center queue, where a random person is responding. Also, we are known to be very responsive and listen well.
KA: How do you find new clients, or how do they find your firm?
ML: Word of mouth, and our online presence, have been primarily how clients get introduced to us.
KA: How do you find the balance between marketing and run-the-business type work?
ML: I meet weekly with an executive assistant who helps me stay organized and focused on the most important tasks for the business.
KA: How do you use social media channels to connect with prospects and current clients?
ML: We actively share interesting articles on our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn Pages. We also have a blog, where we post on a weekly basis.
KA: What are your plans to continue growing your business?
ML: We had tremendous growth in 2016 and don’t anticipate slowing down in 2017. My goal is to be at 20 employees by the end of 2017.
KA: Lastly, what advice would you give to a firm trying to transition from their old ways to become a Firm of the Future?
ML: Millennial entrepreneurs are looking for trusted advisors online, instead of through traditional local business network channels. I would start transitioning now before your firm is left behind.