Despite only having subscribed to Spotlight Reporting six months ago, Martin West, a Director of UK-based firm Ashton Allsop, is already an advocate of our software.
“Not only did Spotlight Reporting do everything our previous reporting package did, but there was also greater flexibility,” he says. “It was more visual. You could convey complicated information much more easily. So we decided to commit to Spotlight Reporting.”
Ashton Allsop works with businesses of all sizes across a number of industries, and Martin uses Spotlight Reporting to meet the needs of clients across the spectrum. Flexibility and scalability are important features for him, and Spotlight Reporting ticks all his boxes.
“For our smaller clients, we’re able to create a dashboard to help them get an overview of their progress against a plan,” he says. “At the other end of the spectrum, we have clients who need financial consolidation, group capability, group forecasting. Spotlight Reporting allows us to do both, and this is highly important for our firm.”
Best-of-Breed Accounting Software
Ashton Allsop was co-founded by Paul Allsop and Martin West, two accountants who had built careers in mainstream corporate accounting. When they left the mainstream, they decided to design a practice that was digital first, avoiding the “receipt shoebox model” typical of old-school firms. More impressively, Ashton Allsop’s staff all work remotely, and have done so since the firm’s inception in 2014—before remote work became mainstream.
As a remote, digital-first firm, Ashton Allsop has by necessity built a high-performing tech stack to support their services. Martin’s journey with Spotlight Reporting began when his license for a competitor software was up for renewal, and he began researching alternatives. Out of all the options in the Xero ecosystem, Spotlight Reporting was the one that best fitted the bill.
“Spotlight Reporting had come a long way from when we originally looked at it a year or two ago,” he says. “We started a free trial, and tested all the features we needed to use. When we were satisfied it met our needs, it was an easy decision to subscribe.”
“For our smaller clients, we’re able to create a dashboard to help them get an overview of their progress against a plan. At the other end of the spectrum, we have clients who need financial consolidation, group capability, group forecasting. Spotlight Reporting allows us to do both, and this is highly important for our firm.”
Being able to update the data in realtime, and immediately access the work of a client’s external bookkeeper, proved invaluable for Martin’s remote staff. Furthermore, Spotlight Reporting eliminated the potential for human error in using Excel, and saved a ton of time—especially when consolidating the finances of large groups. Combined with the clarity of data presentation our tools enabled, Spotlight Reporting became a key enabler of efficiency for Ashton Allsop.
“In our business, we've latched onto insight, compliance, and efficiency as being three of our watch words,” says Martin. “Spotlight Reporting, for me, delivers insight efficiently. It's absolutely aligned with our offerings, and the benefit we bring to our clients.”
Designed for Businesses of All Sizes
Martin’s clients range in size from small businesses to larger groups. Because of this, Ashton Allsop is built to support the needs of businesses at all stages of growth. The services they offer include payroll and pension bureau services, VAT, bookkeeping, tax planning, accounts preparation, corporation tax filing, and management reporting, which clients can engage as they need. But what Martin has found is that Spotlight Reporting speaks and caters to businesses at every level.
“We encourage our smaller clients to use it at the dashboard level, and show them how Spotlight Reporting can answer all their questions,” explains Martin. “Questions like, ‘how much can I pay in dividends? Should I do it on a quarterly basis, or is that too much to take out of the business? How can I communicate progress to our investors?’ Spotlight Reporting gives us the evidence they need for internal consumption, or to present to stakeholders.”
For larger groups, Spotlight Reporting is more than equipped to handle group consolidation, group forecasting, and provide the compelling data needed to raise funds or demonstrate compliance with regulations.
“Spotlight Reporting has been invaluable in producing different reports to meet the different needs of stakeholders, regulators, investors, and HMRC,” he says. “It really gives me the ability to satisfy all the reporting needs of complicated entities.”
Meeting Industry-Specific Needs
It’s not just different sized companies that benefit from Spotlight Reporting. Martin is able to navigate the differences in industries by focusing on important metrics, and incorporating financial and non-financial KPIs into his reporting.
Graphic design businesses, for example, are able to use the Google Analytics integration to slice and dice industry-specific data before importing it into Spotlight Reporting. This results in more accurate tracking of the results of their work.
"...‘how much can I pay in dividends? Should I do it on a quarterly basis, or is that too much to take out of the business? How can I communicate progress to our investors?’ Spotlight Reporting gives us the evidence they need for internal consumption, or to present to stakeholders.”
Similarly, for a gin distillery client, Martin decided to track their revenue per litre of gin sold, in combination with the cost of sales per litre of gin produced. Because of this, the client was able to plan for and offset smaller revenue margins as they transitioned from selling to customers (B2C) to selling wholesale (B2B).
“That’s a clear example of needing to combine the financial with the non-financial to get two meaningful metrics,” says Martin. “And that’s what Spotlight Reporting does really well.”