Case Studies

Keith Steele: PKF Littlejohn LLP

“From training staff to tackling complex cases, Julie’s become a crucial part of our team.”

I first met Julie at Xerocon, a cloud accounting conference. I was there with my firm, PKF, where I’m the partner responsible for the outsourcing division. We act as a finance team for our clients, helping them fill in gaps when they don’t have a full-time accounts team in-house.

Like me, Julie was at Xerocon to learn from the apps and businesses working with Xero and find out as much as possible about software developments in accountancy. Networking at Xerocon was also hugely important to PKF, as my department was growing rapidly. We had a lot of new clients, but couldn’t recruit quickly enough to keep up with demand.

I was impressed by Julie’s Xero knowledge, so I asked her if she’d be interested in working with PKF as a consultant senior management accountant to support some of our more complex clients. We didn’t have the in-house resources to manage our workload, but I knew Julie had the external expertise. She accepted and quickly came on board.

“Our clients feel confident working with Julie. It’s this ability to build strong relationships that I like most about her.”

The original plan was for Julie to work with us for three months. Yet the working relationships she built with our clients were so effective that Julie is still an integral part of the team 18 months later.

Julie supports us to handle both the volume of our clients and the complexity of their needs. Her Xero knowledge is exceptional. Yet that isn’t the only area where she really stands out. She’s incredibly skilled at building and nurturing relationships with clients of all sizes, getting to know a client’s business, finding out what they do and what matters to them so she can best approach the task in hand.

When I brought Julie on board, she started to work on the biggest client my department had on the books at the time. At the beginning, I was involved with building the relationships and led the monthly management accounts meetings with the client. Yet I quickly realised I didn’t need to be there. It was clear Julie could take on and support clients successfully, which was invaluable. My time was freed up, and I had the confidence I could leave my biggest client in Julie’s capable hands.

“Julie shares her skills and expertise on Xero with junior team members and her training has been brilliant.”

At first, Julie was working by herself, both doing and reviewing client work. However, when her initial three month contract period was extended, Julie’s team quickly grew along with our clients’ needs. We brought on more staff to work with Julie, yet she was the person who led the induction progress from there. She introduced junior team members to clients, trained new starters on accounting systems and supported her team as they took on more work.

Before Julie came on board, we were often at full capacity just servicing our clients and doing the work alone. Julie’s appointment means we now have the additional experienced resource to develop our staff. It’s worked perfectly. Not only does Julie have the expertise the junior team need to learn from, she understands our clients so well she can share the knowledge that really makes a positive difference to the way our staff support them.

“Julie manages her team remotely and I completely trust her incredible work ethic.”

Julie joined PKF in early March 2020. The covid lockdown changed the way we, like every business, operated. Yet for us remote working was a real benefit. Our team spoke twice a day on Zoom, so it didn’t matter where in the world Julie was. She could engage fully with us and now manages her team virtually, testament to her efficient ways of working. In fact, my department has taken on a few people in the Leeds office, close to where Julie is based. It’s developed that natural link we have with Julie and Leeds: everything seems to click into place.

My team has doubled in the past 18 months, so many of the department joined PKF after Julie did. Yet most people don’t realise Julie is a consultant, as she’s built such strong relationships in a fairly short time. Now, other internal departments are beginning to enquire about her availability to support them, which is a real credit to the great impression she’s made across the firm.

Julie’s a truly integrated part of the PKF team. The benefits of working with her are huge and I’m delighted to have her on board.

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