Gilbert Robertson, Director of NZ accounting firm Your Success, is a long-time user of Spotlight Reporting. He also knows from experience that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Having unsubscribed from Spotlight Reporting a few years ago, he resubscribed with us when another software product didn’t meet his expectations. He hasn’t looked back since.
“Apparently, I’m the biggest user of Spotlight in our firm,” he smiles.
As the Director of Your Success, Gilbert has a strong focus on customer success (it’s in their name!), so finding the right software tools was important for him and his team.
“We have a holistic focus with our clients,” says Gilbert. “It’s taking them on a bit of a journey, helping realise their dreams are possible, and showing them how to get there. I really enjoy my job.”
Spotlight, to Futrli, to Spotlight Again
Gilbert and his team were early adopters of Spotlight Reporting, having signed up when it first came out. But as other reporting and forecasting products began to appear in the ecosystem, he found himself drawn to Futrli.
“At the time, I thought the budgeting and forecasting was a bit better in Futrli,” he says. “I was really sold on the idea of the reporting being real-time and live, as opposed to just reporting at the end of the month.”
While this was a nice idea in theory, Gilbert says his experiences fell well short in reality.
“When we were on Furtli, clients didn’t really use the live reports,” says Gilbert. “To get the real value in using these live reports, you had to meet with clients at the end of the month, and wrap advisory around them. You can’t rely on clients looking at a dashboard daily, because the reality is that they don’t.”
Because of this, Gilbert decided to try Spotlight Reporting again. By this time, we’d released new features and functionality that more than satisfied Gilbert’s needs.
“You can create a forecast pretty quickly in Spotlight, using actuals, and then forecasting out,” he says. “The reporting is pretty easy to use as well. We gave Spotlight another go, and we really haven’t looked back since.”
Cash flow in Lockdown
Like other accountants around the world, Gilbert found that Spotlight Forecasting became a key tool during lockdowns.
“A lot of the work we did during the first five weeks of New Zealand’s lockdown was preparing forecasts,” says Gilbert. “We would take our clients through what effect on cash flow lockdown was going to have. And what that did was help give business owners a lot more comfort and peace of mind.”
In creating these forecasts, Gilbert utilised Spotlight Forecasting’s scenario tool, which allowed him to create various scenarios for his clients. This helped them prepare for any eventuality, and ensured that they’d be able to meet all financial obligations.
"With tools like Spotlight Reporting and Spotlight Forecasting, it all helps you deliver better advisory services to the client.”
But Spotlight Forecasting isn’t just a tool for tough times. As well as helping business clients through hardship, Gilbert and his team use Spotlight Forecasting to help their clients understand the power of expansion.
“One client’s business has really taken off over the past six months, and she hasn’t been able to keep up with the demand,” says Gilbert. “Using Spotlight Forecasting, we’ve helped her understand the cash flow demands on her business, and the benefits of asking the bank for a loan.”
In this situation, Spotlight Forecasting became an invaluable tool for education and communication.
“This client didn’t really want to borrow money, but she didn’t understand about good debt vs. bad debt,” Gilbert says. “By forecasting it out, and showing her what might happen if she were better able to meet client demand, we were able to demonstrate a significant increase in her cash flow.”
In the end, Gilbert and his team were able to persuade her to expand.
“Using Spotlight Forecasting was powerful for her,” he says.
A Focus on Advisory
Your Success’s mission is to help clients succeed in life and business. They rebranded from their original Robertson CA because Gilbert wanted the firm to be “about more than just him”. Since then, he’s had clients ask him if they “do accounting as well,” which he found interesting, as he feels advisory services are the way of the future.
“I’ve been a firm believer that transitioning to advisory is where we’ve needed to go for a long time,” he says, “particularly when Xero came out. We were one of the first firms to jump on Xero. And now, with tools like Spotlight Reporting, it all helps us deliver better advisory services to the client.”
“By forecasting it out, and showing [the client] what might happen if she were better able to meet client demand, we were able to demonstrate a significant increase in her cash flow.”
With software like Xero making accounting easier for business owners, Gilbert feels people don’t want a “normal” accountant anymore, as they can do much of the accounting work themselves. What they want, he believes, is someone who can help them glean the insights from their financial data, and help them improve their business outcomes. To this end, Gilbert holds regular ‘Platinum Hour’ sessions with his team, where they brainstorm advisory solutions for client conundrums. This helps his team feel more confident when approaching clients with advisory services, especially when supported with Spotlight tools.
“Spotlight certainly saves us a lot of time, but it also makes us more confident around selling forecasting services, because we know we can do it easily and make a better hourly rate on it than we otherwise would,” says Gilbert.
Glad to have you back with us, Gilbert!