Knowing the value cloud software could add for both accountants as well as its clients, Katherine Robertson and colleague David Adderson built Youtopia Solutions with a clear vision: to create deep client relationships supported by the best technology available.
Now, four years (and several award nominations) later, that vision has become a reality.
"We've gotten to the point where our clients call us out of the blue, just to ask for our opinion on something," says Katherine. "Sometimes it's very business related—but sometimes, it isn't. It's a really special position to be in."
Innovation at its Heart
Youtopia is designed to be an innovative, client-focused accounting firm supported by the latest accounting technology. What this means in practice is a smaller client portfolio, monthly or quarterly meetings with every client, and a requirement that all clients use software like Xero and Spotlight Reporting. The result is a deep understanding of each and every business’ inner workings, as well as more time spent analysing financial data, rather than compiling it.
Katherine regularly researches the latest innovations in accounting technology. What she’s found over the years is that Spotlight Reporting has remained the best reporting and forecasting app in the Xero ecosystem:
“We continually look at the other reporting apps, but Spotlight Reporting is always the best one,” she says. “The reports look the best, I love the bold colours, the fact that they’re quite simple and yet deliver a lot of information, as well as the Xero integration. It’s an integral part of our business and we couldn’t run without it, really.”
The Impact of Financial Reporting
Katherine finds that using Spotlight Reporting makes it easier for clients to understand what’s really going on in their business. Replacing spreadsheets and numbers with charts and graphs makes it easier to translate financial data into business insights, especially for business owners who are more creatively-minded.
For some clients, Spotlight Reporting gives them a whole new understanding of their business position. One example is a tutoring business Katherine has been working with for the past 18 months. When they first approached Youtopia, their main measure for business performance was the amount of money they had in their bank account.
“When we looked at that first Spotlight Report, we could see that there were areas where we could help them make some big changes to improve their business,” says Katherine. “As a result of that first meeting, they took immediate action to turn their business around, and it’s gone from just surviving, to thriving.”
“We continually look at the other reporting apps, but Spotlight Reporting is always the best one... It’s an integral part of our business and we couldn’t run without it, really.”
Since then, regular monthly management report meetings have transformed the way they structure their business. Careful monitoring of financial and non-financial KPIs has informed everything from their group sizes to their direction—and after a year and a half of due diligence, they’re now close to expanding.
The Importance of Cloud Software
By now, firms are more than aware of how important cloud software is in keeping companies running through the pandemic. Youtopia was already fully on the cloud when their local lockdown regulations came into effect, and they were able to begin working from home within a day. For their clients, transitioning from desktop to cloud software was the difference that secured their survival.
“I did a big transition for a client who moved from Sage Desktop to Xero and Spotlight Reporting,” says Katherine. “They wouldn’t have been able to function through the pandemic without transitioning. It would have halted their business.”
With new regulations, loans, and schemes being announced every other week, Katherine and her team found themselves forecasting daily so their clients could stay on top of various scenarios and outcomes. The biggest challenge for their client base, she says, was the uncertainty.
“They were constantly working in the dark,” says Katherine, “So they definitely saw a real advantage of us having Spotlight Reports, doing the cash flow forecasting, and having financial visibility in Xero. They could see day to day how they were doing, and that’s how a lot of them were managing it: day to day.”
Now that the UK is beginning to open up again, Katherine is quite proud of how her clients performed. The focus can shift from survival to growth, and the team at Youtopia is more than ready to support this next chapter.
“Our clients have really come through this well,” says Katherine. “A lot of them have had to change how they deliver things or what their business does, but they’ve survived. And actually, if they’ve survived this, there shouldn’t be anything harder than this that they have to go through.”
Mark Lowell from Sedulo charges £2000 per forecast