Tucked in an 18th century building within the grounds of Worcester Cathedral, you’ll find a small, two-person (soon to be three) chartered accountancy practice. But don’t be fooled by their size – Vertis Accounting Limited is one of the most progressive, sustainable practices you’ll find.
Vertis’ director, Ian Jarvis, qualified as a chartered accountant with Coopers & Lybrand 30 years ago and worked the corporate beat until 2018 when he decided to set up his own practice. “I decided on the name ‘Vertis’ since it’s the Roman name for the city of Worcester. We’re a completely digital practice, and I’m proud to say that we don’t even own a filing cabinet.
We use a digital practice management system that enables us to send documents to clients for on-screen signatures. Our postage stamp expenditure is about as evident as our filing cabinet. We’re a firm that practices 21st century accounting in an 18th century building!” Ian explains.
Ian teaches his clients to adopt the same green approach. “I know there are still a few with a ring binder of supplier invoices on the shelf, but I’ll convince them eventually.” He’s already managed to convert the bulk of their clients to switch to Xero, and they now only have one non-Xero client.
Sustainable accounting practices
Ian believes that the firm’s digital approach gave them an enormous advantage when COVID-19 hit. “In February 2020, it was still a bit geeky and even impersonal to invite a client for a video call. Forward one month later, and Zoom had become a household name overnight!
Fortunately, we did not have to adjust from a legacy system and started onboarding clients and delivering training via Zoom calls in early March 2020. We’ve been doing that ever since. We even provide Xero support and refresher training through Zoom.”
Ian explains that they use as little paper as possibly. “We do have a laser printer, but we last changed the cartridges in October last year. We now have a digitalised job planning board and keep our client records in a digital practice management system. We even replaced the 20 old light bulbs in brass fittings with four LED lights.”
Business travelling is almost a distant memory, says Ian. “I vaguely remember doing some of it in 2019 and perhaps a few miles in between. We’ll probably start doing some necessary miles again in the future, but there’s little chance of things going back to the way they were pre-Covid. Zoom and similar video apps are here to stay.”
Tips for green accounting
Asked what his advice would be for other accounting practices looking to become more environmentally friendly, Ian responds: “Our future is digital, and exploring all its possibilities should be a priority, both for practices and their clients. Of course, long-established accounting practices will take longer to make the transition, but it’s worth the effort.
We see clear parallels between greater business efficiency and environmental friendliness. It’s also the right thing to do for the sake of our children and grandchildren.”
To back up its commitment to digital technology, Vertis has secured the Cyber Essentials Certification. “Our next step is to seek carbon neutral certification before the end of 2021,” Ian says determinedly.
However, he points out that they’re not doing it because they see themselves as diehard environmental warriors. “We simply believe it’s the right thing to do from a business efficiency perspective, and we have enabling technology to do it. We’re teaching our clients that for the same reasons. The environmental benefits are just the cherry on top.”
At Xero, we take environmental sustainability seriously. Our Net Zero @ Xero program is our commitment to offset 100 percent of our carbon emissions, and we’re proud to have clients like Vertis Accounting Ltd leading the way too.