In conversation with…Alan Shaughnessy, Partner at DFS & Co
We’d like to introduce you to Alan Shaughnessy, Partner at Irish accountancy firm and Xero partner, DFS & Co.
Despite starting up during the economic downturn of 2007, DFS & Co has been in business for a decade. We spoke to Alan about the challenges facing the Irish accounting industry and SMBs in 2019.
Tell us about your firm
At DFS & Co, our mission is to help businesses grow and manage their finances. While we still offer general accounting services, we have moved away from just being about compliance and are more concerned with helping businesses succeed. We’re based in Galway and have been around for 12 years.
What has been the firm’s proudest business moment?
Reaching a decade in business was a huge milestone for us. One of the secrets to our success is employee satisfaction — we work hard to ensure everyone has a good work-life balance and I think that’s why we have very low staff turnover.
What has been the firm’s biggest business challenge?
We set up the business during the economic downturn, which was not just a challenge for us but also for our clients at the time. Our transition into using technology also took some time in terms of getting our clients and staff to buy into it, as well as staying on top of all the updates. It was especially hard in the beginning, because the technology we were using before Xero was quite slow.
How has Xero helped the accounting work you produce for your clients?
Until we started using Xero, a lot of our processes were manual which was very frustrating and time-consuming. Our clients’ business data was hard to gather and interpret, and even basic tasks were very labour intensive. In that sense, Xero ticks all the boxes. It helps us get information quicker – we can dig in and provide up-to-date financial data to our clients in a matter of seconds. It also saves us a lot of time, which means we can give our clients a better service, help increase their profits and support their business expansion. With Xero, we don’t have to worry about compliance issues, and we can look at historical and real time data to help our clients plan ahead more confidently.
We now have around a hundred clients using Xero which we hope to double over the next couple of years.
What element of Xero has been the most helpful and why?
Xero’s Bank Feeds API are fantastic. We can react a lot faster and be proactive at giving more informed financial advice. The ability to integrate with Xero’s app partners has helped our clients become leaner and more productive. Xero really has become the anchor of our clients’ financial infrastructure.
What challenges will the Irish accounting industry face in 2019?
Ongoing resistance to technology adoption among accountants who are set in their ways is going to be a problem. The majority of small businesses expect a level of technology adoption, so it’s going to be down to us to lead the way. The Irish government digitised the payroll process this year, so it’s only a matter of time before they digitalise the whole process. I truly believe that if you don’t embrace technology, your firm will struggle to win new clients and will suffer in the long run.
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