"The value and the quality of service that we're giving clients now has increased exponentially. We wouldn't be able to do what we do today if we didn't have Silverfin."
That's the verdict of Jo Gibson, Outsource Business Partner at Hurst, the leading independent accountancy firm in the north-west of England. Hurst provides accounting, audit, tax advisory, corporate finance and digital advisory services to entrepreneurial and privately owned businesses with a turnover of anything from £5 to £50 million.
With business growing at 12% a year, Hurst wanted to find more efficient and effective ways of working and improve the experience for the team, who were using Excel and other software solutions to manage compliance-related work papers and accounts production, create management account packs, and file corporation tax returns.
"We were creating the same information in two or three different systems, which was really inefficient," says Jo. "We spent a lot of time searching for numbers and information rather than adding value to the client," adds Lizzie Hill, Outsourcing Senior at the firm.
Easy-to-use cloud platform
Hurst set out to look for a cloud-based accounting solution that would help to streamline and standardise processes and workflows, and consolidate client information in one place. The solution also needed to support Hurst in its aim to be a partner for growth by bringing new ideas and delivering strategic and visionary guidance to its clients.
"We're a huge believer in data-led advisory, so we needed a solution that would help us to understand our client base, benchmark data, and provide targeted advice to support them," says Jo.
Hurst evaluated a number of solutions against its key criteria. "There was a clear front runner for us, which was Silverfin," says Jo. "It met our requirements around having everything in one place, clear visibility and understanding our client base — being able to access the client information which we couldn't do previously."
A test Silverfin environment enabled the Hurst team to become familiar with the solution over the course of several months, running a client end to end to ensure they understood the workflows. A Silverfin customer success manager supported Hurst throughout implementation, maintaining open communication and ensuring the Hurst team had access to all the training they wanted.
"What we've actually found is that it's really easy to use," says Jo. "If you can use Xero or any other cloud-based system, you can also use Silverfin."
A more productive, collaborative team
Within a year, the majority of Hurst's clients had been migrated onto the Silverfin platform. "I'm happy to say it's been a really smooth process," says Jo.
"The team absolutely love it. Silverfin makes their lives easier and the work more enjoyable. We're much more productive as a team."
The cloud-based nature of the Silverfin platform makes collaboration easy, as several colleagues can work in the same file simultaneously, even in different locations. "Increasingly, we're seeing a lot of our clients in the cloud too," says Jo. "Being able to work with them in real time is really important, and Silverfin allows us to do that."
Because Silverfin tracks progress in real time, everyone can see instantly what stage a job has reached. And with a slicker end-to-end process, Hurst can now schedule work more accurately. "With a better idea of how long things will take, we can make a better commitment to clients around delivery," says Jo.
Insights that add value
Automation within the Silverfin platform saves the Hurst team a lot of time. Data gets pulled through from client bookkeeping systems dynamically and there's a high degree of automated reconciliations. "Instead of manually entering data, I can spend a lot more time looking into the numbers and adding value to our clients, which is what they appreciate," says Lizzie.
Additional capabilities within the platform help Hurst to deliver further added value. In particular, the Insights module gives the team a deeper understanding of each client's business, allowing them to spot opportunities and create reports that give clients insights into year-on-year business performance.
"I think this is one of the biggest step changes — shifting the focus away from producing the numbers towards thinking about what the numbers are telling us," says Jo.
"The decision to invest in Silverfin is probably the best decision we've made in the last two years."