Karl Heinz Weiss describes what it’s like to work with City accountancy firm, Numerion Associates
Many accountancy firms will happily take charge of all your financial affairs and manage them on your behalf. It might seem an attractive proposition, albeit an expensive one. But it’s not just the cost you should be concerned about.
Karl Heinz Weiss, Managing Director of KLH UK – specialist suppliers to the construction industry – has a warning for any business tempted by such an offer.
“When a firm says, ‘Don’t worry we’re going to take care of everything for you,’ what that means is you are no longer in charge of your own business.”
For Karl Heinz such a scenario is unacceptable. If you want your business to succeed, he believes, you must have a complete picture of how it is operating day by day. And that means being closely involved in all its financial activities.
City accountancy firm
That’s why when he was looking for a new accountant for KLH UK, he was struck by an idea proposed by Ibrahim Aziz, a partner in the City accountancy firm, Numerion Associates.
“Ibrahim’s proposal was that he would come into my company and set up systems that would allow us to manage our own accounts, eventually making himself redundant. I found that an interesting approach.”
Ibrahim’s words have proved to be no idle promise. Since taking over as accountant for Karl’s firm in September 2007, Ibrahim has introduced a number of measures that have made it possible for KLH UK to take more control of their own affairs.
A strategic approach
From the start Ibrahim’s approach has been highly strategic.
“His first action,” says Karl, “was to understand our company and then look into the future possibilities for us, focusing on where we wanted to be in five years. He recognised that for a business like ours it made no sense to subcontract all the book keeping to another company. So he set up a system to do that in house.”
Ibrahim not only helped to install Microsoft Navision software in KLH UK, he also trained Karl’s staff in its use. At the same time he has helped recruit a finance manager for the business, someone to look after all their internal financial affairs, and bring back into the company a lot of work that had previously been outsourced.
A much clearer view
“I’m really pleased with the way things have worked out,” says Karl. “I now have a much clearer view of our performance. At any moment I can log into the system Ibrahim helped us to set up and see where we are. Prior to that I had to rely on gut feeling, which can sometimes be dangerous.”
Among other things, Ibrahim prepares KLH UK’s annual accounts for the auditors and has helped Karl to address the complexities of the firm’s VAT.
“Because we import construction material from Austria and then provide additional services within the UK some of the VAT transactions can be quite complicated,” explains Karl. “But Ibrahim has gone through all the processes and everything has now been sorted.”
With so many of the processes brought in house and streamlined, Ibrahim has kept his promise to make himself redundant from the firm’s day to day accounting activities. But there is still a vital job for him to do.
This involves providing expert guidance of the kind any major firm would expect to receive from a high calibre finance director.
“We’ve reached a point where Ibrahim can step out from the day to day business and instead take on more of a consultative role. The plan is to have a monthly meeting where I can present my ideas to him on how things can develop. Because he understands our company very well and has a good business background, he is able to give sound advice.”
It’s fair to say that Ibrahim’s support for Karl has come at an important time in the firm’s history. As KLH UK have become increasingly involved in large-scale construction projects, so their income has grown.
“We are now approaching about £10 million turnover,” says Karl. “That’s about eight times as much as we achieved in our first 18 months.”
Positive impact on the bottom line
Looking back on the past few years, Karl is in no doubt of the contribution that Ibrahim and his City accountancy firm have made to his company’s success. He believes Ibrahim’s support has had a positive impact on his bottom line.
“I would say we are more conscious of costs and overall I am much more confident in terms of what’s going on financially. For us working with Ibrahim has been an absolutely positive experience. He has helped us to develop the company beyond my expectations.”
It all sounds very encouraging. But after more than two years of working with Ibrahim, does Karl have any reservations about him? Maybe a failure to deliver on a promise?
“Well there is one thing,” says Karl. “Some time ago he promised he’d give me a lesson in golf. I’m still waiting.”