Hi! I’m Natalie, Client Manager at Freedom in Numbers. As I’m a relative newbie to Xero and the FIN team, this blog is all about my journey, what I’ve learned since joining the team, how I’m loving using Xero, and how it’s helping our clients to work smarter.
My experience as an accountant and why I love my role
Before I talk about my experience getting used to Xero, here’s a bit of background on the journey that led me here…
In all honesty, I never anticipated becoming an accountant. Back in 2008, I had the idea of going to university after my A-levels. But after a change of heart, I decided to take a gap year instead of getting into debt or rushing down the wrong career path.
I immediately started searching the local newspaper for vacancies (showing my age now), and thought I’d test the waters, maybe get an apprenticeship.
I found an advert for an accounting technician at a small local practice and, after doing some research on the role, liked the sound of it. I’m quite an organised person, and although maths wasn’t my strongest subject at school, I really enjoy working with numbers. My favourite subject was physics as I loved working out the equations.
Anyway, I thought, what’ve I got to lose? If I don’t like it, I’ll apply for university next year.
To cut a long story short, I studied and worked in practice for three years and became AAT qualified in 2011. I knew by this point that accountancy was the career for me. I liked organising the data, researching the rules, and learning new things constantly. I also enjoyed talking with clients and I liked the office atmosphere.
I knew I wanted to take my career even further and decided to seek out my next post, which was a training contract with a large company where I could work and obtain my ACCA qualification. I worked in this post for nine years and became ACCA qualified in 2017.
I always knew that one day I wanted to head back to the world of practice where I could really use my skills to help what felt more like real people and businesses. Where I could see the impact that my skills had on the client.
In a larger company it’s easy to just feel like a number or a cog in the wheel, whereas when I had worked for a smaller company, I really felt that what I did made a difference to peoples’ lives.
After I had my son in 2019, I started to feel like my career wasn’t adding value to my life. I even considered a change of career, as I couldn’t see how my skills helped people.
After being away from the practice world for so long, I was unsure if anyone would even take a chance on me going back. It was at this point I saw the job advert for the Client Manager role at Freedom in Numbers, and the rest is history, as they say.
What have I been up to since joining the team?
A lot of reading! I was keen to refresh my memory on the rules and legislation I need to be aware of to serve FIN’s clients and support the team effectively. On top of that, with all the announcements on furlough and numerous support schemes in place due to COVID, I’ve been busy keeping up to date.
I undertook the Xero adviser certification during my first week with FIN. I’d seen Hannah post about Xero before and heard a few adverts on the radio, so I was really excited to get started.
Once I’d gotten my head around the Xero software, I started helping the team with day-to-day work; invoicing, payroll, completing company accounts, corporation tax returns, self-assessment tax returns and answering general client queries. It has been great to get back into the swing of things and start connecting with clients.
I thoroughly enjoyed being in the office before lockdown 2.0 and getting to know the FIN family. I particularly enjoyed our photoshoot day and the first ever team meeting, where we learnt about above the line thinking and enjoyed a pizza lunch. The second lockdown loomed not long after, so I’ve been back to working from home. But hopefully we can all be back together again soon.
How Xero benefits our clients and me
Where do I start with Xero? I have so many good things to say about this software – it’s revolutionary!
In my last two jobs, a lot of the work was manual and time-consuming. It meant using Excel and Word to generate accounts, or even handwriting data on analysis pads and posting into accounts production software, as was the case in my first ever accounting job.
Having the kind of automation that comes with Xero has been fantastic. As the accountancy world evolves and Making Tax Digital comes to the forefront it’s important to have software like Xero to help with the transition.
I love the integrations Xero has with other apps, which means there are so many ways we can help our clients and tailor the services we provide. For example, forecasting/cash flow apps like Float or the receipt capture app Hubdoc.
Working from live data means clients get the best value for their money. Instead of us spending days on end analysing transactions, we can get down to the real stuff – making sure you’re getting the best advice for your business and ensuring you’re aware of any deadlines for tax well ahead of time.
Xero frees me up to analyse the data more accurately and respond to client queries immediately. It also eliminates some of the need to estimate, because data for things like accruals/prepayments is already on the system. This means provisions we put into the accounts are more accurate.
It also means that accounts and tax returns can be started at the earliest opportunity after the year end. We aren’t waiting for bags of receipts or folders of invoices as all the data is linked through from Hubdoc. You also don’t have the annoyance of the odd missing bank statement, as the bank feeds are all in Xero and updated daily.
Looking forward to what the future holds
If the various lockdowns have taught me anything, it’s that the future is always uncertain and at the moment it can be hard to plan for anything, my son will be turning two in the spring, so I am hopeful for a lockdown free garden party or perhaps a trip to the zoo with close family to celebrate. His first birthday was during the first lockdown so it would be lovely to be able to treat him this year.
One thing I am certain about is that I am really looking forward to supporting Freedom in Numbers clients and business in the new post Lockdown 3 world.
Now that I have seen how Xero works & all the new technology out there, I can see the potential benefits for businesses which I am very excited about, it is interesting to see how business has adapted in such a short space of time and to be at the forefront of seeing how the pandemic is changing the business world.
Thank you for learning more about me I cannot wait to connect with more of you, and if you want to get to know me then please do give me a follow-on LinkedIn.