Life as a Start Up Tech Firm in the World of Accounting

Colin Hewitt of Float on the BD Academy Accounting Influencers podcast with Rob Brown
Colin Hewitt of Float on the BD Academy Accounting Influencers podcast with Rob Brown

Colin Hewitt

Colin Hewitt is CEO & Founder at Scotland-based accounting tech company and cashflow forecasting app Float. He moved to Edinburgh from N.Ireland to study Computer Science back in the late 90s. He started his first business from his bedroom, and then a digital agency in 2002. Float was launched in 2012, to solve the problem of operational cashflow for businesses. Shownotes:

  • How the Float cashflow app was born out of trying to solve a problem as an entrepreneur
  • Why an accounting firm might send a non-accountant to meet a client on the first visit
  • Progressive accounting firms have a growth mindset and have moved on from crunching the numbers and fixed roles for partners
  • So many accounting firms used to be in the top 100 but have fallen out – times are changing
  • Accounting firms can’t be good at everything so it’s important to play to strengths
  • All accounting firms can do the numbers – it’s what they offer beyond that which differentiates them
  • Modern clients are looking for a technology oriented accounting firm with much more to offer than basic services
  • Being proactive as an accountant is often as simple as picking up the phone to clients and asking how they’re doing
  • Why companies like Xero and Receipt Bank are doing well with what they’re offering customers
  • If compliance is making up a huge amount of an accounting firm’s profits, that is going to be squeezed
  • An example of three accounting firms pitching for business, and none of the proposals filled the prospective client with enthusiasm
  • The importance of client testimonials on your website that show why clients should work with you
  • As it gets easier and easier to switch accounting firms, so how will you retain your clients?
  • Most of your dissatisfied clients have already made the decision to leave, which is why accountants must constantly ask for feedback
  • Business planning and cashflow forecasting are at the heart of good advisory as it’s what clients really need
  • What it feels like to be a tech start up in the accounting space
  • Many tech companies are struggling to get traction and to embed themselves in accounting firms
  • What makes a good strategic partnership between software companies
  • The power of running a pilot advisory offer for accounting firms – tips from the ‘lean start up’
  • The internet and the cloud is bringing competition to accounting firms on a much wider scale
  • If the average compliance fee for UK accountants is £2500, then the value of bringing in advisory can create much more
  • Onboarding new accounting clients is the perfect opportunity to experiment with pricing and different new offers
  • AI can make a big impact in reconciliation because there’s so much data there
  • Where some of the biggest opportunities for accounting tech lie in coming years
  • How one progressive accounting firm has fewer accountants and more business advisors
  • The problem with cashflow is till not solved – nobody has cracked it yet
  • Shout out to Andrew van der Beek – ‘we’re all in this business to help people.’
A lot of tech companies struggle to get traction and to embed themselves in #accounting firms and adopt the technology Click To Tweet

Colin Hewitt of Float on the BD Academy Accounting Influencers podcast with Rob Brown


Married to Kathryn, Colin has 3 children and is very involved in the startup ecosystem in Scotland. When he’s not working, he likes playing piano or surfing, both of which he is a rookie. Find out more at Float or contact Colin directly:

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Colin on email