Multidisciplinary Case Study Accounting Department

How a focus on culture and technology helped Quill overcome the challenges of building a converged client offer

If you run a financial advisory or accounting practice, chances are you've agonised over which business model will give you the edge now that regulatory changes are firmly in place and demand for financial advice is increasing.

For many, the incentive to offer clients combined accounting and financial planning services is greater than ever. What many don’t realise, however, is that setting up a multidisciplinary practice isn’t as easy as it looks.

Kevin Nicol, CEO of Queensland-based Quill Group, is one of the few practice owners who saw the value in a multidisciplinary firm long before the fallout from the GFC or the first debate about the accountants’ exemption.

Starting as a small practice earning $30,000 annually in fees, Nicol grew Quill Group into a multidisciplinary offering that earned $10 million in revenue in the 2016 financial year.

While Quill is a success story, its achievements didn’t happen overnight. From the early days of joint ventures and acquisitions, to referral partnerships that at times only generated one-way referrals, to major challenges with systems integration, Quill has lived through it all.

If you ask about why the team persevered, Nicol will tell you their philosophy is quite simple.

“Our ambition to provide a ‘one-stop financial services shop’ has always been driven by the belief that a client can be better served if the left hand knows what the right hand is doing,” Nicol says.

“Clients often don’t know where accounting ends and financial planning begins. With a converged business model, the client experience is seamless. Clients are ‘introduced’ rather than ‘referred’ to another professional. This is really important because it creates a stronger focus on outcomes in the client’s best interests.”

From its roots as a small accounting practice, Quill has grown to offer accounting, financial planning, insurance and self-managed super fund (SMSF) services from three offices and today has over 60 staff in Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Both the accounting and financial planning divisions are mature businesses. The SMSF division, Superfund Wholesale, was added six years ago with 36 SMSFs. It’s now the firm’s fastest growing division, servicing close to 2,000 SMSFs with $1 billion under administration. In July it picked up an award for SMSF Administrator of the Year.

Each entity had different shareholdings and the directors began to understand the difficulty of running a multidisciplinary practice that hadn’t truly converged.


On the growth path

Quill’s journey began when Nicol, having started his career in a large accounting firm, knew he needed to find business partners for his accounting practice who could provide sound financial advice.

“I put a lot of research into finding the right planner, mostly based on what clients were saying. I previously had a referral relationship with Peter Kirk who owned a financial planning practice in Brisbane. The feedback from clients was that Peter walked on water,” Nicol laughs.

Kirk joined Nicol in a 50/50 joint venture in 2004, while still retaining 100% of his Brisbane financial planning practice. In 2007, they merged with another financial planning firm.

At that point, each entity had different shareholdings and the directors began to understand the difficulty of running a multidisciplinary practice that hadn’t truly converged.

“The planners had no equity in the accounting practice and had no financial incentive to refer accounting work, however they were dependent on referrals from the relationships held by my accountants,” Nicol says.

“As I owned equity in both divisions, I needed something to change. In 2011, we acquired a significant Brisbane accounting practice and took that opportunity to review our strategy and roll all of the equity into a single holding company with fully owned subsidiaries.”

With all business units now operating under a single entity, the business was structured to deliver a seamless accounting and financial planning service - and the pressure was on to deliver a quality client experience. This was no easy feat with three sets of teams, processes and systems.

“We needed to change our thinking and become proficient with new systems and different processes to provide clients with frictionless solutions,” Nicol said.

A defining moment arrived in 2012, when Quill acquired a small cloud-based accounting practice to bring crucial knowledge and experience in-house and ‘springboard the firm into the 21st century.’


Technology and the road to ‘robo’

The acquisition prompted another set of challenges – the biggest of which was how to better use technology to enable their growth journey and help Quill keep the customer front of mind.

“Technology disruption has been and will continue to be, massive. Coming to grips with a different way of thinking and better processes to interact with clients provides lots of opportunities,” Nicol says.

“I’m not just talking about cloud versus desktop applications, but more importantly customer relationship management (CRM) systems. With our business, we have three divisions and three databases on three different software solutions. While they are all cloud-based, finding a CRM that can integrate data into one source of truth is ridiculously expensive.

“Building a single of truth is important because when a client calls, you should be able to look at your CRM and know who is working on each area of their portfolio and each area’s current status. You should be able to see that the SMSF team are chasing queries to complete their work, that we are 99% complete on their accounting work and that they have an appointment to see our financial planner next week.”

To overcome this challenge, Quill created a full-time IT division dedicated to developing systems that will connect their three databases to allow them to gain an integrated view of the client’s affairs and prevent double handling of transactions.

”The single client view will help us communicate more effectively with clients, and iron out simple data entry issues, such as not updating personal information across all systems.

“Clients see communication as a hygiene factor. You can easily lose a client over this stuff.

“It will also help our accountants and planners to build a stronger understanding of each others’ clients at any point in time, which is critical in a firm like ours.”

Defining our client value proposition and our values has driven the biggest cultural change I have seen in my business in the last 17 years.


A cultural affair

Another major growth challenge for Quill was uniting their disparate team and creating a cohesive culture that aligned to the business objectives.

Two years ago, Quill engaged a business consultant to help them draw up a three-year strategic plan. That process included an all-staff workshop to articulate the firm’s client value proposition (CVP).

From a staff point of view, the CVP work allowed Quill to define its core business values, which Nicol says have really resonated with the team.

“Being ‘absolutely accountable’, ‘insatiably positive’ and ‘passionate advocates’ in everything we do internally and with every client interaction helps us deliver against our new brand promise: Shaping Your Future.

“Defining our CVP and our core values has driven the biggest cultural change I have seen in the business in the last 17 years.

“When you have a collective understanding of your CVP and business values, it’s amazing what outcomes you see. It becomes very clear who is living the values and who isn’t – it effectively becomes a barometer for cultural fit.”

Nicol says he reinforces core values and the firm’s client-centric focus in every staff meeting and regularly celebrates success stories when different business divisions come together to help a client.

Quill also holds formal and informal training and mentoring sessions, where employees can share information and talk about what is and isn’t working for the client.

“Keeping these concepts top of mind means that as opportunities arise to help the client across divisions, our people are equipped to make appropriate introductions in other parts of the business. Building a culture where we all understand the firm’s complete offering makes it easier to deliver a positive experience for our clients.”

As more Australian consumers turn to financial advice and expect their needs to be addressed holistically, the one-stop financial advice model just might be the one to watch in the post-regulatory world.

Nicol’s advice to business owners who are thinking about a multidisciplinary approach is this: don’t take the decision to integrate your services lightly. Quill’s path to success involved a trial-and-error run of joint ventures and acquisitions, referral partnerships that, at times, didn’t perform and back-office challenges. Ultimately, a strong focus on culture, communication and finding ways to use technology as an enabler, allowed Quill to realise its vision as a multidisciplinary firm.

“The key takeout for me is that you need to choose the business model that aligns with your objectives – and then grab the opportunity with both hands. Sure there will be challenges, but if you stay focused on the end goal – giving your clients a great experience along with services that meet their needs – then ultimately you will succeed,” Nicol says.

CA Final Multidisciplinary Case Study Syllabus

CA Final Multidisciplinary Case Study Syllabus: CA Final List of Elective papers Applicable from 1st July 2017 – On 1st June 2016, ICAI has announced that they are introducing changes in the CA Course and the new CA Course would be applicable from 1st July 2017

CA Final Syllabus is undergoing new changes in for the current year. And the changes can be implemented anytime of this year. We have the approx syllabus which is going to be implemented in the upcoming days. Let look at the changes and syllabus now.

CA Final Multidisciplinary Case Study Syllabus: This paper will be having 100 marks single paper.

CA Final Multidisciplinary Case Study Syllabus include:

  • Audit and AssuranceAssurance service is an independent professional service, typically provided by Chartered or Certified Public Accountants or Chartered Certified Accountant, with the goal of improving information or the context of information so that decision makers can make more informed, and presumably better, decisions.
  • Taxation: A means by which governments finance their expenditure by imposing charges on citizens and corporate entities.
    Governments use taxation to encourage or discourage certain economic decisions. For example, reduction in taxable personal (or household) income by the amount paid as interest on home mortgage loans results in greater construction activity, and generates more jobs. See also taxation principles.
  • Finance and Financial ManagementFinancial management refers to the efficient and effective management of money (funds) in such a manner as to accomplish the objectives of the organization. It is the specialized function directly associated with the top management.
  • Corporate Laws: It studies how corporations, investors, shareholders, directors, employees, creditors, and other stakeholders such as consumers, the community, and the environment interact with one another. Corporate law is a part of a broader companies law (or law of business associations).
  • Business and management: The organization and coordination of the activities of abusiness in order to achieve defined objectives. Management consists of the interlocking functions of creating corporate policy and organizing, planning, controlling, and directing an organization’s resources in order to achieve the objectives of that policy.

The main reason to include this subject is to analyses and integrate all the basic concept, the principal of accounting, auditing, corporate law, finance and business strategy. And make it as a practical case scenario.

CA Final Multidisciplinary Case Study Syllabus: Brief About Chartered Accountant

Chartered Accountants were the first accountants to form a professional accounting body, initially established in Scotland in 1854. The Edinburgh Society of Accountants (1854), the Glasgow Institute of Accountants and Actuaries (1854) and the Aberdeen Society of Accountants (1867) were each granted a royal charter almost from their inception.The title is an internationally recognised professional designation, and is generally equivalent to the American certified public accountant designation. Right now, a Pakistani is the world’s youngest Chartered Accountant.

Chartered accountants work in all fields of business and finance, including audit, taxation, financial and general management. Some are engaged in public practice work, others work in the private sector and some are employed by government bodies.

Chartered accountants’ institutes require members to undertake a minimum level of continuing professional development to stay professionally competitive. They facilitate special interest groups (for instance, entertainment and media, or insolvency and restructuring) which lead in their fields. They provide support to members by offering advisory services, technical helplines and technical libraries. They also offer opportunities for professional networking, career and business development.

CA Final Multidisciplinary Case Study Syllabus: List of institutes of CA

  • Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants
  • Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants
  • Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand as a result of merger of New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia (ICAA) in 2013
  • Chartered Accountants Ireland
  • Association of Chartered Certified Accountants United Kingdom
  • Chartered Institute of Public Finance Accountants (CIPFA) United Kingdom
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Belize
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bermuda
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of the Eastern Caribbean
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ghana
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Guyana
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of India
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Jamaica
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Namibia
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nepal
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sierra Leone
  • Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Trinidad and Tobago
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe
  • South African Institute of Chartered Accountants
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bangladesh
  • Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants

CA Final Multidisciplinary Case Study Syllabus

CA FINAL

 Click here to know about CA Final Elective Paper

CA Final Multidisciplinary Case Study Syllabus

CA Final

Click here to know about: CA Final International Taxation Syllabus

CA Final Multidisciplinary Case Study Syllabus

This paper will cover Case Studies based on the following subjects.

  • Financial Accounting and Reporting
  • Audit and Assurance
  • Taxation
  • Finance and Financial Management
  • Management Accounting
  • Corporate Laws
  • Business Strategy and Management

CA Final Multidisciplinary Case Study Syllabus

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