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Digitalisation advances accountancy firm

Tan Jian Wei, Jeremy (Director), Ong Teng Wei (Associate) and Tan Theng Chew (Associate)

Image: From left to right: Tan Jian Wei, Jeremy (Director), Ong Teng Wei (Associate) and Tan Theng Chew (Associate).

Young entrepreneur Mr Jeremy Tan is quickly expanding his corporate secretarial, accounting and tax services firm after adopting a game-changing software.

It was a regular day at the office and business was rosy for the months-old start-up. However, Mr Jeremy Tan was at the height of his frustration.

The managing director of Jeremy Tan & Associates was neck-deep computing the income taxes for a medium-sized organisation, a tedious task involving frequent accuracy checks. This was especially so since it had been done on Microsoft Excel, an industry norm amongst smaller accounting firms.

“Manual computations and workings are not just time-consuming, they are also prone to human errors,” said Mr Tan, who founded the firm in October 2018.

Having to format the pagination of the final report for the client was another “painful task” before it would be submitted to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS).

In addition, the disproportionate amount of time spent on these few accounts was keeping Mr Tan from pursuing new business opportunities and deepening relationships with existing clients.

A life-changing moment

Things changed when he looked to the Internet for help and found SINGTAX, a Singapore tax software. After attending a demonstration session, Mr Tan was sold as he knew that that software was what he needed.

As SINGTAX is a digital solution that is pre-approved under the IMDA’s SMEs Go Digital programme, Mr Tan also secured funding under the Digital Transformation for Accountancy (DTACT) programme.

“The interface is self-explanatory and user-friendly as modules are structured in a way that simplifies data input. It’s easy to pick up tax terms even if you are not a tax practitioner. After keying in the individual items, you just need to apply the relevant tax laws from drop-down selections,” said Mr Tan of the simplified process that was implemented in July 2019.

The 29-year-old is no stranger to technology. He had spent a few years with large corporations that had the capabilities and resources to develop in-house productivity software.

“I knew I had to adopt some form of digital solution in my own business for better efficiency. If I had known earlier that this particular tax software existed, I would have adopted it much earlier.”

Tan Jian Wei, Jeremy (Director), Ong Teng Wei (Associate) and Tan Theng Chew (Associate)

Infinite benefits

Almost immediately, Mr Tan felt the impact of digitalising. “A tax computation that would have taken us two weeks before, now takes us only one week to complete. Computation and formula errors are also eliminated. Eventually, with just one click, we are able to generate accurate and presentable reports,” he said.

That is not all. Mr Tan has also used the software to train his two employees on tax proficiency and computations.

What is most crucial is the team’s increased bandwidth to take on new clients. “There were 13 medium-sized companies which had complex and numerous transactions that we were hesitating to take on due to capacity constraints. After implementing the tax software, we were confident of completing the engagement on time,” he said. These new clients gave his revenue a 15 percent boost.

Building on the increased momentum, Mr Tan is now looking outside of Singapore. “We are expanding into Malaysia and Thailand soon and hope to grow our local team as well,” he shared.

Further digitalisation lies ahead

Following up on the success of implementing SINGTAX, Mr Tan also intends to adopt a Practice Management System, essentially a digital platform that helps the team manage their clients, engagements and workflow on a single dashboard.

“Right now, | maintain a list of clients’ engagement details and deadlines in Excel, so it’s still manual,” Mr Tan explained. He has also roped in a 67-year-old business associate to join him in software demonstrations by various vendors.

“He was on the fence at first. He wasn’t sure if technology would help him or give him more problems,” Mr Tan said, citing that many people were put off by the initial work of onboarding and uploading existing information onto a new software.

“This is the tedious part but onboarding is one-off. After that, you get to see the result of more efficient operations,” he said.

Lastly, he urged every business owner to give technology a chance, saying, “Keep an open mind with tech adoption. Take the first step to attend software demonstrations to learn how available solutions can aid in improving operational efficiency.”