How the connected practice freed John Costa from the grind
Who on earth starts an accounting practice to create more time with family? And how?
John Costa of EJC Advisory started a practice to give himself more time in his personal life – something that may seem at first glance a raging paradox – and he left a large, successful multinational to do so.
“I was working in a larger firm and it got to the point that I became tired and stale in the business,” John explained to The Pulse.
“In June 2016 I decided to do my own thing, and lifestyle was a big part of that decision. I’ve got two young kids, so work/life balance was a driving force in setting up my own practice.”
Branching out with tech
John seized the moment and decided to branch out into wealth advisory – with tech as a focus.
“At the moment there’s me and an office manager / bookkeeper. We rely a lot on technology so we can do more with fewer people,” he said.
“We specialise in advisory and wealth creation. We’re a talking firm and spend a lot of time with clients. As the firm grows, we’ll have more people in our team.”
Without the tech solution his budding firm implemented, he wouldn’t have time for the face-to-face meetings that an advisory service thrives on.
So how does setting up a practice from scratch – with the associated pressures, search for clients and long hours – fit the lifestyle requirement?
“Setting up and getting everything to work was tough at the beginning,” John admitted. “It’s not for everyone. But it’s becoming easier with the technology that’s available.”
The tech setup
John relied heavily on his MYOB Partner Manager to get the setup just right. His advice to accountants thinking about making the leap into their own firm?
“Get the advice from your MYOB Partner Manager and set up all the integrations from the start!” he said.
Still, there must be long hours each day establishing and servicing clients?
“I can go to the beach at 3:30pm with the kids, and log back on at 8pm. The speed of doing things online and not always needing face-to-face contact has really taken the pressure off,” John explained.
The paperless office
The connected practice of today means taking advantage of up-to-date client data flowing through the practice to provide business insights, something that John relies on.
He has also been exploring new opportunities in transaction processing, and brought a bookkeeper in-house as his first hire.
“You can quickly access data with less risk.”
Smart moves like these help demonstrate that EJC Advisory is part of the new breed of agile, technologically savvy practices that live the connected practice ethos.
“We are pretty much paperless now,” John said.
“Ninety percent of clients are on MYOB Essentials or AccountRight. We use smart bills heavily, and everything is linked to MYOB AO, so we don’t really need paper. I use electronic document signing via MYOB Portal, too, which is also efficient.
“The technology makes things so much more efficient. It means you can quickly access data with less risk.”
Efficiency breeds success
And what does that efficiency look like?
At the time of this interview (February 2017), John had over 50 percent of his clients already doing FY17 end of year tax.
“All clients are in the cloud and have bank feeds,” he explained. “If a new client comes to me, I typically set them up on Essentials – they don’t get much choice.
“We use MYOB AO to sit over the top and use Statutory Reporter, as well – it saves us up to half the time of what it used to.”
Time enough for daily afternoon swims with the kids, it seems.
“Success for me is being able to do what you want, when you want and how you want.”