We caught up with Wijay Kanagasundaram from WIS, who has streamlined the operations of his all-in-one financial services firm and taken things to a new level of digitalised efficiency as their client base has grown throughout the last couple of years.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Wijay Kanagasundaram, Co-Founder & Director of WIS, a chartered accounting firm for small businesses. WIS started in 2009. We’ve been quite lucky in that most of our clients have come through word of mouth.
How would you summarise your business model at WIS?
WIS was founded by me with two partners. I run the accounting practice, my business partner Ifthikar Mohamed runs the mortgage practice, and our partner Suneth Silva runs the IFA/wealth management/business protection practice. Our main goal is to bring all of our financial services under one roof.
We’re almost a fully digital firm and take huge pride in our almost paperless operation, having transitioned from our City of London base over the course of the pandemic to working from home.
Many of our clients are freelancers and contractors, an industry we’ve developed an excellent reputation in, winning the Best Contractor Accountants with under 1,000 clients award back in 2019. At the moment, we’ve got around 600 contractors using our services, but we also have quite a few SME companies working with us, a process made infinitely easier through our Xero Gold partnership.
Over the last two years, we’ve ventured into more general accounting, working with contractors, property managers, influencers, clean tech companies and more.
How did you become aware of Pixie?
During COVID, we started talking to other accountants and we found out about the concept of Pixie for the first time from them. Coming from City backgrounds, we were all used to Excel and that was a bit of a manual process.
We decided on Pixie for two main reasons:
It was super easy to approach them and get set up
When something’s not working, we’re able to get a hold of Pixie’s team and find a solution, especially as they involved us in the development process. This was hugely refreshing in the SaaS world, where founders often have their own ideas about where they want to take their products and fail to take into account the needs of users. When we didn’t understand things, we were always able to connect with one of the team via Zoom.
It was easy to dive straight in and get things done.
For someone at the director level, Pixie’s value is very easy to sell to your team and ensure quick and efficient buy-in from the bottom up. You don’t need to do everything all at once, instead you can show Pixie to the team, get them on board with one step, and then work on getting them involved with more workflows.
I think of it a bit like flying a plane. Your first job as a pilot is to get the plane off the ground, then you focus on building altitude, then you start the entertainment systems, then you prepare the beds for turndown service… all in a calm, measured order that everyone can handle at their own pace.
It’s that second point that was particularly impressive. As a 25-person team with tons of work to do, we didn’t have time to spend assimilating into a new way of doing things. Instead, we wanted something that felt like it worked straight out of the box with minimum time spent on implementation or reorganising resources, and that’s exactly what Pixie did for us.
What impresses you about Pixie?
I’m a massive fan of automation tools, and Pixie made an enormous impact on us when it came down to streamlining our processes.
Client onboarding is a great example of this. If, for example, a client signs up on the 27th of March, Pixie will send out an email to kick off the pre-planning stage the next day, which is massively helpful. There’s more to do, but it’s all looking doable with Pixie and we can’t wait to explore.
Our team is a massive fan of the software as well. Everyone loves the automation features; they stop people from forgetting to send routine communication while also piggybacking off communication that’s already been sent out.
Have your clients noticed anything different?
We have changed our approach to clients but not on an individual level, as you may think. In fact, very little changes. We aim to meet and exceed expectations, and that’s what we do. Yet, as we scale, what we don’t want to lose is the personal touch that got us that first wave of clients through word of mouth.
What we like about Pixie is that even the automated emails have a personal touch, which helps us maintain our personal relationship with each new client without our team having to do much else except set them up in the backend.
How did you implement Pixie without slowing down your existing workflows?
We’re a smaller firm that works with smaller clients. We don’t have a fixed price list nor do we work with multinationals with last-minute changing demands. We’re used to working with clients that know what they want 12 months (or more) in the future, and operate with a relatively fixed list of tasks spaced out throughout the duration of our engagement, which Pixie was able to handle beautifully.
How else has Pixie opened your eyes to what it’s like to grow as a digitised business?
Moving past the fact that it’s easy to hit the ground running and get set up in a fraction of the time that other platforms take, we weren’t able to find a single platform that delivers the same value for money, especially given the huge range of features.
Whether you’re a small bookkeeper or a large accounting firm, there’s huge scope to improve the efficiency of your processes using Pixie. Plus, even if you have brilliant software, if there’s no support, it’s not going to impress you, but that’s never been the case here.
My advice would be, ‘Don’t be scared’. As a founder I understand how difficult everything’s been during COVID, but one of the biggest topics I’ve heard industry-wide is a desire from directors and junior accountants alike to move to a fully digital model, and Pixie makes it so much easier to do that.