Luke Graham and the Accounting Company He Co-Founded – Tech & the Beancounters
Luke started his career in Sheffield, working as Finance Officer for Sheffield Union before moving to London to work for Tesco PLC. During his time at Tesco, Luke worked in Central Finance with responsibility for weekly management reporting and working capital, before moving to China with Tesco’s property business in Beijing. Luke’s next move was to Thailand, to work on a series of finance and business development projects as part of Tesco’s local subsidiary, Tesco Lotus. In addition to Luke’s financial responsibilities in Bangkok, he also took on the role of deputy project manager for the launch of the first Tesco Extra in Asia. In 2012 Luke left Tesco to join Tough Mudder in the USA. At this point, Tough Mudder was only 18 months old, but it was already reaching revenues of $70m. In 2014 Luke returned to the UK, working in a senior finance role for Marks & Spencer, focusing on Marketing & Strategy, as well as undertaking a secondment with HRH Princes’ Accounting for Sustainability Project. Here he talks to Finance Monthly about the accounting company he co-founded less than a year ago – Tech & the Beancounters.
Tell us about Tech & the Beancounters. What were its beginnings and how did it develop into the company that it is today?
We set up Tech & the Beancounters to make finance simple, professional and accessible for everyone. Coming from an industry where I’d seen so many firms supplying outsourced finance at high cost with junior staff, this meant that many start-ups and SMEs could not afford their services or received a sub-standard service. My co-founders and I wanted to change that.
What have been the company’s top accomplishments thus far?
Our greatest accomplishment to date has been helping a distressed client through a tough period of trading, helping them to win back the confidence of investors and produce a credible financial plan that allowed the firm to raise debt and equity to secure its position as a going concern.
From an internal perspective, a key achievement for me has been the recruitment of our founding team; we have a fantastic Head of Analytics and Head of Business Development, Tech & the Beacounters would not be growing at the rate it is without them.
What are your goals for the future?
Our short-term goals all involve client care and team development. We have experienced rapid growth to date, but we want to ensure we are constantly developing the service clients receive, as well as make sure we are providing value-add analysis and decision making tools that distinguish us from high street accountants.
In the medium term we are focusing on improve the “tech” in Tech & the Beancounters. We are developing our website into a more interactive platform that should include online client accounts. Furthermore, we are using some of the latest reporting software, including Microsoft Power BI to improve our interactive financial reports to give client even greater insight into their businesses.
What challenges would you say you and the firm encounter on a regular basis? How are these resolved?
The most frequent challenge we face as a firm is time pressure. We have been resolute from our founding that our reach does not exceed our grasp, and we are incredibly loyal to our clients. We understand that as we grow, we will need to empower a wider team to take over some of the front-line interactions with clients.
The most frequent challenge we have observed amongst our clients is in forecasting/budgeting: some obsess about plans, some do not plan at all. We have seen several clients de-rail themselves because they cannot decide on a specific budget/business plan or course of action. In response to this, we have developed robust scenario planning tools that complement our budgeting and forecasting models, allowing clients to visualise the different possibilities for their firms and the decisions that will accompany them.
What does the future hold for you and Tech & the Beancounters? Do you have any upcoming plans or projects you would be willing to share with us?
Our focus will always be on sustainable growth – we want happy customers who stay with us for the long-term. We are also developing a new online portal for our clients so they can check their reports and financial information in real-time. There are also a couple of opportunities in China and New York emerging, but I’d like to keep that under my hat for now…