Building a mobile app for your practice? Read this first.

It wasn’t so long ago that the thought of an accounting firm releasing its own mobile app was, well, it wasn’t thought about. But that’s precisely what Queensland firm Marsh Tincknell has done.

Traditionally focussed on tax and compliance, the firm has made a conscious effort to evolve with the industry and technology.

It should come as no surprise to you that more people use mobile to access the web than desktop and laptop – an insight which led the firm to develop an app for clients.

The Pulse caught up with Marsh Tincknell’s Tom Wilson to get the lowdown on the app’s impact on the firm and its clients.

The Pulse: What inspired the decision to move into mobile apps?

Tom Wilson: We need to offer more to our clients in the 21st Century and find a way to connect with them more. They deserve it.

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Tom Wilson, Marsh Tincknell

Our objective was to communicate more with clients and make better connections, while making this process as easy as possible.

It’s a hub for everything financial – tools, calculators, receipt tracking, logbooks linked to GPS, income tracking, ability to contact your accountant, push notifications about events etc.

We want to make it as easy as possible to answer clients’ questions and at the same time have the brand front of mind.

Describe the steps you went through in getting the app to market

There was a lot of communication with our UK development firm.

We constantly reviewed the content and went back and forth, the whole time making sure that it would meet our clients’ needs.

We realised there weren’t many professional services organisations that have apps, so there weren’t many case studies to draw on.

Our launch strategy was primarily through our website and social media – we hit digital hard.

We spilt our client base, mainly based on demographics as we knew the app would appeal to some more than others.

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Did you encounter any resistance within the firm? How did you overcome it?

There were questions, but everyone was very excited and keen to understand the value that clients could get from the app.

The strategy now is to continue with this momentum and get the team to proactively promote the app across the client base.

What feedback have you had from clients?

We’re only five months in but the feedback is positive. We haven’t asked for testimonials but we have seen a steady increase in usage and repeat usage.

It’s been likened to ‘always having your accountant there in your pocket on the phone’.

How does the app integrate with your practice technology?

We’re looking at ways to integrate it further with other systems in our firm.

The MYOB Portal will be the first one we are looking at.

Connecting information directly back into AE (MYOB Accountants Enterprise) without the admin process in the back end will create efficiencies both for us and the clients.

What are the lessons you’ve had since introducing the app? What are the wins? What would you do differently next time?

It would be great if we could make an individual, personalised app experience for every user. But that’s a bit unrealistic when it comes to app development.

Originally we wanted a ‘hub for all clients’ and we’ve learnt along the way that the more personalisation for the client, the better – and that’s an important part of our service offering.

Has this experience inspired the firm to try new things? What’s next?

The app has really inspired a whole change in the business. It’s got the team thinking – what else can we do? How can we be on the front foot with technology?

I really believe we have an amazing culture supported by solid innovation processes and a strong focus on digital.

What advice do you have for accountants thinking about making changes to the way they work?

The hardest part is getting started.

It’s critical that we’re always changing and evolving the way we work and the offering we give to clients so that we’re not left behind.

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