our rising star

Zoe Lihou was recently nominated for the Digital Accountancy Awards “Best Rising Star” and although she didn’t win, we are celebrating her achievement of making it to finalist.

After being nominated, Zoe had to answer some questions for the judges to review, and we loved her answers so we will share some extracts here.

Explain what your role is in the firm and how you influence digital change

“Being an account manager of a diverse range of clients in my portfolio means I have to consider the scale of application of the app stack within the Xero ecosystem we use. We are all about the ‘automate’ getting our well chosen apps to do the heavy lifting to allow us to advise clients-as opposed to simply adding up numbers and producing accounts.

Di, my MD introduced me to the wonders of digital accounting and the benefits nearly 4yrs ago.  Back then I was a client. Xero got me hooked, Receipt Bank equally blew my mind. Now we are just adding, apps not just numbers to improve and shape our clients’ businesses.

Accountants cannot be just bean counters – we are advisors, sounding boards, tech savvy and seeking efficiencies all the time. When we trial a new app each member gets to take the lead and road test on clients. this gives ownership and adds value to the process- then we can pass onto our clients and tailor its use. Even the most traditional clients we have on-boarded have been easily convinced of the real time benefits to real time data that is what the digital world gives the modern day accountant.”

What digital technology are you using well and how?

“Back when I started out as an ACCA trainee accountant with big 5 over 20 yrs ago, I wouldn’t have believed the tech that is available now. Literally mind blowing. A key feature of a good system? flexible, relevant and cost effective.

We use these tools to deliver quality to our clients, add value with insightful advisory services, and here are a few of my faves:

  • A cloud based accounting package that the clients can use and interact with, easily recode ledgers, sync to other apps without months of IT bespoke and costly work? thank you Xero.
  • Receipt Bank with its data extraction for swift processing of invoices and receipts? just amazing. Its why we use Xero and Receiptbank as standard for clients-the bedrock of what we do.
  • A program that coverts statements/invoices to importable csv? hats off to you Autoentry.
  • Clarity-good start to conversations and to review those key
  • Spotlight is great for reporting the numbers – they are their ‘story’ and we are interpreters.
  • Fluidly for budgeting and forecasting-excellent in these recent times of what if and unknowns.
  • Of course our practice is fully automated too, from Practice Ignition for engagement letters to Xero Practice Manager for job management and time recording, to GoCardless for the collection and reconciliation of payments.

It feels odd being nominated for something and thank you to my nominator- usually its because you did something extraordinary. I definitely don’t climb mountains nor do I run marathons. I see my role as a match maker between our services and the clients. Not so much blind date but Digidate.

Without the tech we now have it wouldn’t be possible to achieve what we do. So to all the tech wizards out there – thank you.”

How have you furthered your digital transformation over the last 12 months?

“We have engaged with more and more apps and integrated them into our client base. We regularly attend Xerocon to keep up to speed with changes and innovation.

I continue to embrace the tech, share it with clients and seek opportunities that benefit them. Not sure we needed transforming as we have been and will always be a tech savvy firm.

Greater use of PI has transformed the processes of on-boarding and allowed our MD to focus on other strategic areas of the firm’s business.”

How have you used technology to improve your client’s businesses in the last 12 months?

“Migrating new or fledgling businesses to tech savvy suites is the key. All on Xero and Receiptbank. Reviewing businesses with spotlight reporting and clarity really helped gain useful insights for us and clients into their business rhythms.

Being able to quickly pinpoint and highlight potential cost savings that accurate reporting gives has benefited my clients.

Not using tech is not an option-sticking to that means we instil a culture and discipline both in house and out of house with clients.”