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Brentnalls SA accelerates client advisory services, prepares for predictive leap

Advisory and accounting firm Brentnalls SA has built a prized reputation among its clients for the swift, informed advice it provides.

Led by Rick Albertini, who has been a key pillar in the growth of the Adelaide based business over the last 21 years, Brentnalls SA provides services to businesses around Australia and internationally, some of which generate annual revenues in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Its broad range of accounting and tax, business advisory, wealth creation and preservation, succession and retirement planning, and self-managed superannuation funds.

Early recognition and response to COVID

With this reputation in mind, it is hardly surprising that Brentnalls SA took early action at the pandemic’s beginning to prepare for a new way of working that would ensure its staff were safe and its clients received the service they valued without interruption.

Sensibly, Brentnalls SA’s partners recognised early the need to transition the vast majority of its employees to remote work in early 2020. This move meant when lockdowns took hold in Australia, the accounting and advisory firm’s 90 staff were comfortable working outside of the office and engaging with clients online.

The ongoing challenges of COVID

Brentnalls SA advisors have for several years used Microsoft’s Power BI to support clients, access financial data and perform analytics. The firm’s accountants and advisers also utilise BI’s user-friendly dashboards to provide clients with easily digestible information to make informed business decisions. Power BI was also critical in supporting Brentnall’s shift to online working, and its ability to service its clients as COVID gripped.

While the South Australian firm prides itself on rapid support for clients, it quickly discovered that after pivoting to a work from home model, its underlying technology infrastructure was insufficiently nimble. People had taken their work systems home, but the processing and communications available through its hosted cloud platform simply wasn’t fast enough to support its clients.

Brentnalls SA’s diverse client base includes one of the largest luxury inbound tourist businesses, which COVID-19 impacted. But many other clients in construction, health services, and agribusiness were also experiencing increased demand and needed as much if not more support from Brentnalls SA as they had in the past.

Solving the new COVID demands with time-saving measures

Working with Australian based Control Z, Brentnalls SA set about upgrading its technology infrastructure to turbocharge operations. In addition to migrating Brentnalls SA to Exchange Online & SharePoint Online, Control Z deployed a Windows Virtual Desktop environment in Microsoft Azure, running Windows 10 Multi-Session to provide users with a familiar desktop interface and access to all their applications and data from any device at any time.

To streamline processes and accelerate the speed to service clients, Brentnalls SA staff now use Microsoft Teams, Power BI and Power Automate (Source: Brentnalls SA)

Users have reported significantly improved Outlook performance with Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise optimised for WVD; since implementation, user Logon times have reduced from over a minute to less than 20 seconds.

This solution has been supported by a solid security foundation utilising Microsoft Technologies including Microsoft Endpoint Manager, Azure Firewall, Azure AD, Conditional Access Policies & Multi-Factor Authentication.

Game changing upgrades allowed for new online engagements

The update meant that Brentnalls SA staff could connect using Microsoft Teams, use Power BI and Power Automate to streamline processes and accelerate the speed at which they could service clients. It also meant that as operations started to return to normal, and with many Brentnalls SA personnel eager to return to the office, the firm could offer new online engagement models to clients.

By holding at least some client meetings over Teams, the firm has been able to rein in travel costs with no compromise on service levels.

Rick Albertini says, “Instead of having these Excel spreadsheets or Word documents saved in remote servers with versions needing to be emailed, it’s now a collaborative document for everyone to have input.

Power BI, Power Automate and the Microsoft Teams platforms have been a game-changer in the way that we, one, work with our clients and, two, work internally.

“There are user right restrictions for sensitive information, but it’s provided that level of transparency, open communication, and all of a sudden, we’re talking a different language. It’s been great and very enlightening.”

Technology changes supports recruitment

Since the implementation, Brentnalls SA have added ten new staff members to their team, the dynamic nature of the platform allows for rapid fluctuations in user count with no impact upon performance. It is this scalability that excites Control Z’s Head of Technical Services, Dale Williams.

“When Control Z were approached to produce a new solution for Brentnalls SA, the need for scalability was at the top of my mind” says Dale Williams.

It was clear that Brentnalls were a fast-growing business, and we needed a solution that would be infinitely scalable. – Dale Williams

Remote worker having a virtual presentation
The pandemic has fostered new ways of working, with Microsoft technology changing the game for both internal operations and client services (Source: Brentnalls SA)

Control Z’s solution architects responded by designing a solution based entirely out of Microsoft Azure, with Windows Virtual Desktop taking the spotlight. “This had dramatic scalability advantages over a traditional privately hosted server environment and became an obvious choice for the customer’s evolving requirements”

With the new technology infrastructure in place Brentnalls SA is primed to take the next step on its innovation journey, expanding its use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to support predictive analytics and work even more closely with clients to build real time dashboards and stoplight style reporting – green, amber and red – so that they can take action faster. “We can actually be alerted on a daily basis, not six months after year end. It’s too late then,” says Rick Albertini.

The digital improvements at Brentnalls SA ensures the accounting and advisory firm can continue to provide the insights and intelligence to ensure its clients make strategic, and informed decisions based on up to the minute accurate data and advice.

For all your independent accounting, taxation & business advice call Brentnalls SA on (08) 8241 8444.

Control Z are passionate about working with Australian businesses to make the most out of their investment in Microsoft technologies and can be reached on (08) 8132 0006.