Wrapping up 2020: Wins, highlights, & lessons for the future

By: Paul Murray, Posted on: December 22, 2020

2020 has no doubt been a challenging year, but one that’s brought us closer together. It’s compelled us to reflect on what’s important and find ways to stay connected without the benefit of face-to-face contact.

On that note, we asked accountants and finance industry professionals to share their thoughts on the year that was – and the lessons they’ll be taking with them into 2021.


Kerrie Flood, Principal Accountant, Gilroy, Barnes & Associates
 



What have been some of the unexpected highlights of 2020 for you?

I think I’ve built a lot of goodwill with clients, especially helping them through the maze of government stimulus. I emailed my whole client base to get information out to everybody as it came through, and I put it in ‘Kerrie speak’ rather than ‘accountant speak’. Clients have come to me and said: “Oh my god, that was so helpful!” The last couple of weeks I’ve had an insane amount of chocolates arrive at my door.


How has technology impacted you and your business?

I actually started implementing AccountKit right in the middle of the pandemic and I can’t imagine life without it now. Having it linked to my document management and the way it all talks to each other perfectly has saved so much time. Thanks to moving to the cloud I was able to do tax season completely online. It all came together really well.

 

What lessons from this year do you hope to take with you into the new year?

Look after myself and learn to say no. As well as I try to manage my time, there’s only so much of it to go around. You can’t buy more of it.
 

Jason Robinson, Director, Future Advisory
 


What have been some of the unexpected highlights of 2020 for you?

Like many people, 2020 has been one hell of a ride for us. Each and every person’s situation is different, but if there is one word that stands out to me, it’s ‘resilience’. During those times when we got bogged down in the day-to-day grind, it was important to remind ourselves and our team why we existed – and that’s to help and guide our business and personal clients in making informed financial decisions to have a better future. 

As a team, we were able to work more closely together, even though we weren’t in the same room. Thanks to our great culture and values, we got through this together. We communicated well, forged deeper relationships and now finish the year with our heads held high knowing we did everything we could possibly do to survive and thrive. While we’re looking forward to a rest, we also can’t wait to get stuck into 2021!
 

How has technology impacted you and your business?

Technology has allowed our business to thrive through COVID-19. After mid-March, the entire team started working from home and it was basically business as usual. We were initially concerned about losing some of that human element with our clients, but with the help of Zoom and MS teams, we got through the lockdown period with ease.

Like many of the new-age accounting firms, we’re running Xero, XPM, Spotlight, AccountKit, Slack, Zoom, Office365, HelloSign, NowInfinity, Practice Protect… and so many more! So we were completely cloud-based and paperless from the get-go. I was actually able to move to Raymond Island for the whole month of April and live and work at the in-laws’ house!  


What lessons from this year do you hope to take with you into the new year?

Take nothing for granted. In a world where being busy is a badge of honour, I think it’s time to slow down, have gratitude and self-reflect. It’s also a good time to take stock of how far we have come – a few years ago our business didn’t exist, and this year we helped hundreds of businesses and thousands of people get through a really tough year. It’s important to stop and appreciate that before 2021 kicks off. Love, kindness and generosity of spirit costs nothing, but means everything.  
 

Patrick Frigo, Practice Apps Specialist, Xero
 

What have been some of the unexpected highlights of 2020 for you?

The change in my daily routine has been a huge personal win. Without needing to commute to work, my mornings start off with some reading then going for a walk with my wife. With gyms closed, I now love finishing my work day by listening to some music and going for a run. The freezing winter days also provided me with a great reason to catch up on many TV shows that had forever been on my list. One example is The Wire – it did not disappoint!
 

How has technology impacted you and your business?

It’s had a huge impact. My day-to-day is very collaborative and I simply couldn't work if I didn't have tools that allowed me to connect with colleagues and partners in real-time. I'm very grateful that my company had already invested in cloud solutions as it meant that when we were told we needed to work from home, it was literally just a matter of taking our laptops home and connecting them to Wi-Fi.

Whilst face-to-face interactions will always be necessary, it has been a revelation to realise that not every meeting needs to be physical – often they can be just as productive (if not more) in a virtual setting.
 

What lessons from this year do you hope to take with you into the new year?

‘Default to kindness’ is a phrase that has stayed with me this year, and an important attitude to carry into next year. We're all human, experiencing life with our own unique circumstances. It's much better for all of us to empathise before judging.

This year especially has reinforced the importance of being flexible and having a mindset to search for opportunity rather than lament the challenges we face.
 

Shaun Farrugia, Director, Optimised Accounting
 

What have been some of the unexpected highlights of 2020 for you?

As a business, we were able to test how well we work remotely on the cloud and together as a team. On a personal level, working from home with no childcare was no doubt challenging, but it also gave me the opportunity to see a lot more of my four-year-old son.


How has technology impacted you and your business?

Actually, this year has been a great test to see just how cloud-based we are. We heard some stories of other businesses needing to come into the office to download certain things, but we didn't have any of those issues. When we made the decision to work remotely, it was fairly straightforward. We already use cloud-based everything, and could not have done it without platforms such as AccountKit!

It helps that we were born in the cloud. We bought extra monitors for all team members so they could work comfortably at home, and they simply took their laptops home. It worked surprisingly well!
 

What lessons from this year do you hope to take with you into the new year?

Professionally, I've been pleasantly surprised at how well my team has worked under pressure.

Personally, I didn't notice how much we were running around on the weekends before – so we’ve embraced staying home and reducing how much we do.


Molly Banister, Marketing Manager, SuiteFiles
 



What have been some of the unexpected highlights of 2020 for you?

I’ve gotten to spend a lot more time with my partner, which I’ve really enjoyed. It’s forced me to slow down a little bit and focus on being in the moment. It’s also brought me closer to my community and highlighted what’s important.
 

How has technology impacted you and your business?

This year has helped people realise the importance of the cloud and adopting digital technology. It’s highlighted all the benefits you get that we’ve been talking about at SuiteFiles for what feels like forever! It’s also helped us find new ways to engage and interact with our customers. It’s been lovely to see that, despite the physical distance between us, we’ve still been able to connect with our customers.
 

What lessons from this year do you hope to take with you into the new year?

It's very different living in a world where your connection is remote. You can't just take the things you would normally do face-to-face and put them into a digital form and expect them to work. It takes more effort, more energy and a different way of communicating. So I think one big lesson is that, although we're so lucky to have the technology that we have, communication in a remote world is very different and needs to be treated differently.

One of the other things I think we’ve all learned this year is just to appreciate each other and have a little bit more patience and tolerance.


Daniel Tramontana, Chief Operating Officer, BGL Corporate Solutions
 

What have been some of the unexpected highlights of 2020 for you?

From a business perspective, BGL has released more than 30 major software updates for CAS 360 and Simple Fund 360 during this year. Our new features and innovations have truly delighted our clients, and the team has worked incredibly well. We have also released the beta version of Simple Invest 360, the complete investment portfolio software for multiple entity types and individuals. Honestly, the output is just outstanding. We’ve been able to come together with a really strong support network of chipping in and helping each other out.

At the beginning of the pandemic we did a survey across the organisation of engagement rates, and we were sitting at about 81%. When it came to three months later, because of the efforts we’d taken to support our people, our engagement rate had actually increased to 89%, which was pretty much unheard of. So that was an incredible result for us.


How has technology impacted you and your business?

I call technology the great enabler. So this year has not only caused us to better leverage the technology we’ve got but also look for better solutions in areas where we weren’t so dependent on technology. And from a customer perspective, what Simple Fund 360 and CAS 360 have enabled people to do is very quickly move from an office environment to a home environment and get the same efficiencies from pretty much anywhere around the world.


What lessons from this year do you hope to take with you into the new year?

At BGL we have a team of over 160 people. During this year a significant amount of our time and resources have been allocated to strengthening our people-focused culture. I've learned the importance of connecting and working with the community. And on a personal level, I’ve learned we are much more resilient and able to get through hurdles than we might realise. Nothing is permanent – it's just a matter of embracing the silver linings and looking for the positives.


Matt Gaffney, Customer Success Manager, AccountKit
 

What have been some of the unexpected highlights of 2020 for you?

I’ve actually found that during this time, people have been more willing to have personal conversations. So I’ve found out a lot more about my clients and built even stronger relationships with them, which has been great.


How has technology impacted you and your business?

Being a single dad and not having my kids all the time meant I was home alone a lot, and as an extrovert I need to be around people to recharge. So communicating through FaceTime and Zoom really helped me keep it together!

Even though AccountKit is a cloud product and some of us were already working from home a few days a week, when lockdown happened we were apprehensive because our work requires a lot of collaboration between teams. But we’ve all been great about communicating with each other and we’ve managed to keep things running smoothly.


What lessons from this year do you hope to take with you into the new year?

This year has really humbled me. It’s made me appreciative of the things I have and more empathetic towards people who are doing it tougher than me. I’m so fortunate to be in a job where I get to work from home in the cloud – it’s made me realise how blessed I am.


So there you have it: some great insights from some great folks. To everyone we’ve crossed paths with this year (virtually or in-person), it’s been fantastic as always and we’re very grateful for your support. Have a wonderful break and catch you in 2021!

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