Neil and his fellow director had both worked for large accountancy practices that used the Wolters Kluwer software so it was natural for them to select CCH Central when they set up their own firm. “When we first started nine or ten years ago there were only three or four of us in the office so having CCH Central was something of a luxury. But I really wanted to get this software from the start, not just because we were used to it but also because it was important to start the way we meant to continue, with a fully integrated suite.”
As well as the CCH Personal Tax, CCH Corporation Tax, CCH Accounts Production and CCH Practice Management software that they started with, Hilton Jones now use CCH Document Management, Company Secretarial and Client Portal.
“For us, how Wolters Kluwer deals with the transition to MTD is absolutely critical,” says Neil, “so we’re pleased to see them moving forward in this area. I particularly like the integration with other cloud accounting software systems through their Open Integration programme. No supplier has a monopoly and it’s therefore important for systems to talk to each other. Wolters Kluwer has recognised this.”
Neil fully appreciates the impact that MTD and other digital developments will have on Hilton Jones. “The digitalisation of tax and accounting means major changes are inevitable. Over the next 12 to 18 months our role will change - from accountant to business advisor - and our clients will have to buy into this.”
“Our smallest clients may still want us to provide bookkeeping services, but they’ll need to supply information to us digitally - we won’t want to spend time chasing them up for data or typing in the information from pieces of paper. Right now we can use bank feeds for some of this data, but in the future we’ll be telling them to take a picture of an invoice or statement with their mobile phone and submit it that way.” This functionality is already available with Wolters Kluwer’s Basecone app.
“At the other end of the scale, our larger clients will treat us as a business advisor,” says Neil. “Digitalisation means there’s a lot more data that’s available to analyse and report on in real-time, and I can see us becoming a valuable reporting resource for our clients.”
The firm has grown over the years and now has 10 staff. Moving to a business advisory model means making the best use of the team’s skills, as Neil says: “When you start an accountancy practice, you’re the person with most of the specialist knowledge but, to grow, you have to spread that knowledge around the team. That can be hard when you’re also trying to run the business and earn fees.”
Hilton Jones are planning to use CCH Workflow to help them. “By creating a portfolio of clients, and using the Workflow system to organise work between team members, I can put a structure in place to delegate work with complete confidence.”
Hilton Jones are using the Wolters Kluwer client portal to help them achieve and maintain compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation. “To help us deal with the new regulations, we expanded the portal from 100 to 1,200 users. We think it offers an inherently safer way of exchanging files under GDPR than email and we’ll be able to tell clients ‘The tax return is on the portal, ready for your approval.’ It’s far more efficient.”
“As much as anything, running an accountancy practice is about running a business,” says Neil. “I was used to doing tax returns and my fellow director was used to doing accounts, but we were both new to the business side of things when we started the practice and all that admin can come as a bit of a shock - auto-enrolment, GDPR, marketing…”
“But we know where we want to be and I think the Wolters Kluwer software gives us a good platform to work from. There’s always something good coming out of CCH Central!”
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Located in Oldham, just north-east of Manchester, Hilton Jones offer a full range of compliance and business advisory services. They specialise in working with sole traders and companies in the construction industry, which has expanded rapidly in recent years to meet the needs of this thriving area.
Tax specialist, co-founder and director Neil Greenwood explains why Hilton Jones chose the Wolters Kluwer CCH Central software suite from the outset and how the firm will be using the software to meet the challenges of a digital future.