When to invest in accounting technology: Interview with Amplify Advisors

The earlier you invest in the right technology for your accounting firm, the less costs you’ll have to pay in the long run. As part of an interview series we’re running with a range of accounting technologists listed on the Amaka Advisor Directory, we spoke to Jamie Smith, Co-Founder and Chief Experience Officer at Amplify Advisors. She had to learn this lesson the hard way.

This is number three of five snippets we’ll be releasing over the next couple of weeks with Jamie, exploring the way her team at Amplify have adopted technology across their practice to maximize efficiencies and convert leads. She worked in the accounting profession for about two decades before founding Amplify Advisors.

Below, you’ll find the recording of the interview snippet, a summary of key points and the full transcript.

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Key points on when to invest in accounting technology

  • Amplify Advisors started in 2018 as a technology-centric firm but used systems that they’d put their smaller clients on as opposed to their enterprise-level clients
  • When COVID first hit, they realized they needed to switch to an ERP to handle the growing business
  • The cost of making the switch later rather than sooner, or even from the beginning, was significant
  • “The reason for that is people and change management and bad habits and more data, more years of business equals more data, more customers, etc.”
  • Fund and invest in technology now and save money over a five year cash flow forecast

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Full interview transcript with Amplify Advisors

Gian Ottavio (Amaka)

Hi, everyone. My name’s Gian Ottavio. I’m the Strategic Partnerships Manager here at Amaka. Today I’m joined by Jamie Smith, the Co-Founder and CEO of Amplify Advisors. Amplify Advisors is a full service accounting practice and also a growth consulting firm based out of Calgary, Canada.

Jamie’s team at Amplify offers a holistic accounting and finance service ranging from Outsourced CFO, CPA recruitment and consulting to technology and business strategy. They cater for small, medium businesses who typically utilize Xero and QuickBooks, as well as more enterprise-size clients who leverage ERP systems such as NetSuite. So, Jamie, thanks for joining us today.

Jamie Smith (Amplify Advisors)

Appreciate the opportunity. Thank you.

Gian Ottavio (Amaka)

All right. So, look, we’re moving to, I guess, the five fireside questions. With technology being introduced to a sector that is so, I guess, resistant to change, when there’s data entry that has just been a standard function of full-service accounting firms, the likes of integrations like accounting integrations, or as you are talking about, expense management software.

But coming to the realization that, yes, this needs to be implemented to our firm is something that we have seen a lot of our clients come to terms with as well. Was there ever that light bulb moment where your team was just going through the manual data entry process and thought there needs to be a better way to do this?

Jamie Smith (Amplify Advisors)

To some degree. I mean, we have only been in business since 2018, so we started as a cloud accounting, technology-centric firm right from the beginning. And so we didn’t have a lot of bad habits or heavy data like so many of our competitors and our friends in the market. Right? So it’s a bit different for us.

But having said that, you know, we had that moment about a year ago or so when COVID first hit. I guess that’s almost two years ago actually. So almost two years ago we sat there and we thought about whether or not it was time for us to get an ERP. And at that point, at the size we were at that time, we were on the same systems that we put our clients on when they’re small, medium.

So that’s Xero. And Dext and Fathom. And that was absolutely doing the trick for us and it was working really great. So it felt a little bit premature to invest in an ERP, an Enterprise Resource Planning System at that time. And it is one of our biggest tech regrets for sure, because had we done it then, we would have had less people involved, less change management.

Over the course of the year that it took us to finally pull the trigger, we developed lots of bad habits that had to be reversed. And frankly, we were not getting access to timely, real-time data that we needed. And that has to do with us growing to the point of multiple service lines that have differences between the service lines and different projects. And so the trigger for us was there, but we weren’t ready to invest.

And so it is one of those things that you have to invest in technology for your future, not for today, but yet, as we spoke about before, cost is a real thing. It’s not not true, but there are a lot higher costs to invest in technology later than in advance. And the reason for that is people and change management and bad habits and more data, more years of business equals more data, more customers, etc. So the cost to do it later is significantly more.

So if you actually do have the ability to fund it and you know you’re going to be around and you know you’re going to achieve your goals, it really is going to save you money over a five year cash flow forecast to do it today than to do it in a year. Absolutely.

Gian Ottavio (Amaka)

Yeah, we’re definitely in alignment on that one.