A decision to quit her audit job in 2010 to spend more time with her family led Juliet Chan-Tay to new opportunities. From providing accounting to compliance services, Juliet who has an accounting and finance degree from SIM-University of London, is now the Managing Director of Pivotal, a boutique accounting firm that takes care of compliance for small- to medium-sized companies.
Can you share what you do on a daily basis?
I am one of the Directors of Pivotal. On a daily basis, I spend most of my working hours addressing my clients’ needs and reviewing my staff’s work. I also advise directors on their company’s workflow to achieve compliance.
What inspired you to start your business?
My clients. When I first left audit back in 2010, I wanted to spend quality time with my newly minted husband. I had friends who thought I had a lot of free time after quitting and asked if I could do simple accounting for them. They thought that if I could audit, I could do accounting.
However, audit and accounting are different sides of the same coin. To be honest, I was pretty much fumbling my way around at the beginning.
I helped – one friend, two friends, it was then when I realised that there is a big gap between compliance requirements and what most people know about what is required.
I started taking on more complicated situations – like companies receiving a court order from IRAS. After resolving that situation, and about 10 companies under my belt, I started structuring Pivotal to help companies meet compliance.
What was the main challenge you faced in your business?
Finding the right technology to support our work.
The efficiency of our work highly depends on the technology we use. Which means we are also subject to their limitations, pricing changes, or policy changes.
Case in point, an accounting software that a client was using suddenly had a policy geographical change and had to discontinue subscribers from South East Asia. My client, who had been using that software for years, came to me in panic, looking for recommendation for another similar software.
There is no quick way to overcome a challenge like technology since its constant is change. My staff and I will from time to time test new software related to our work.
Can you provide us a specific challenge that you had to overcome in your current job?
We used to store our client’s documents on a popular software. I got a call one morning that one of our directors was not able to access his account. We spent all morning trying to reach customer service without much success.
When we did manage to reach the customer service, none of them was able to help us or provide a solution. The big issue was - there was no warning, there was no explanation. It was an immediate shut out without notice or even time for the director to retrieve or move his files elsewhere.
I immediately notified all our staff to find another software and move our client files out. Given the short amount of time, we spent a day studying all available software in the market, and eventually chose a traditional but reliable software and moved everything out within the week.
It was a great feat shifting thousands of files but I am very proud that our staff, without complaints, meticulously made sure that all our client files are safe and intact.
I think the greater lessons we have learnt as a company are:
1) We cannot rely on one software. However amazing they may claim to be. We also bought a standalone cloud hard drive to back up all our files.
2) Never hide behind technology. In my personal opinion, it is bad for a business to have bad customer service, it is worse if you have great technology looking like it is trying to improve customer service but instead derail the customer experience.
3) Train your frontline very well. If your frontline presents the available solutions confidently, people will trust the integrity of the product or service that you are providing.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Finding solutions and solving the problem.
Posted online 20 Jul 2022.
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