On this episode of the Advisory Accelerator Podcast, I connect with Pat Morell, the Chief Revenue Officer at Aiwyn, to discuss how his firm partners with CPA firms to help better manage their client revenue cycle.
I learned how Aiwyn's system taps into legacy management platforms while innovating with solutions like engagement letters. Pat elaborates on drastically reducing administrative tasks and increasing billable hours.
With nearly 80 customers and strong reviews, Aiwyn is achieving success. However, what was most reassuring was Pat's emphasis on data security and reliable service.
Take a listen to learn more about what it takes to accelerate your firm's advisory practice.
- Pat Morell, the co-founder and chief revenue officer of Aiwyn, joins us to discuss how their system is revolutionizing the CPA revenue process through automation, liberating CPAs from time-consuming administrative tasks.
- Aiwyn’s system integrates with legacy practice management systems to automate tasks from billing to collections, to payments and account management, which enables CPA firms to focus more on client service.
- We discuss the benefits of Aiwyn's system, such as increasing billable hours and improving clients' revenue. Pat shares that the pricing model is accessible for firms with as little as $2 million in top line revenue.
- Pat outlines the challenges firms face when adopting a new system and explains how Aiwyn assists in overcoming these obstacles.
- We provide an overview of the process of getting started with Aiwyn, which includes an initial Q&A, a demo, and understanding the pricing structure.
- Pat shares the success story of Aiwyn, which currently serves almost 80 customers and has a high net promoter score.
- We discuss the benefits of Aiwyn's software, its security features, and how it can help firms of all sizes, emphasizing that it can free up staff from time-consuming billing tasks.
- Pat explains the details of Aiwyn's pricing model, which is designed to help firms grow. The pricing model is based on the firm's top line revenue and scales as the firm grows.
- We discuss how Aiwyn's software is constantly updated and improved, with security features and uptime SLAs in place to ensure reliable and secure operation.
- We conclude by expressing gratitude to Pat for his enlightening insights and to our listeners for tuning in. We encourage interested firms to reach out to Pat for more information on Aiwyn.
(AI transcript provided as supporting material and may contain errors)
Jeff: Well, hello again everybody. This is Jeff Pawlow, and I am the president of the engineered advisory family of companies and your host for the advisory accelerator podcast, a show that works to help CPAs become more advisory minded in their practices. On today's episode, I'm happy to welcome Pat Morell, the chief revenue officer and co-finder of Aiwyn, who will help us explore how their system really allows CPAs to better advise their client in the areas of revenue process automation, and that includes billing, payment processing, collections and overall account management. So we've got a lot to cover today, Pat, welcome to the advisory accelerator podcast.
Pat: Jeff, thanks for having me Really excited to be here.
Jeff: You bet, and full disclosure. Not only am I interviewing Pat today, but we're also interviewing Pat and his company to be part of a solution at engineered advisory. So we're looking forward to working with you as a client and appreciate everything that you've done with us to figure out what solution is going to best meet our needs. So I'm excited to share some of what we've learned with our listeners as we go through the podcast, and one of the things that I thought was interesting on your website is you've done a nice job of kind of historically calling out what the revenue process used to be. You had pre 1980, where it's almost a hundred percent manual processes, and then we got spreadsheets in the 80s and more internet enabled tools in the 2000s, and that brings us up to today. And so talk a little bit about what I win does as a product at a high level, and then we can dig down a little bit deeper from there.
Pat: Sure, and I'd love that you put this on a historical continuum, because I think we, before starting the business, were operators on that continuum and actually the core use case that drove us to start I win is we had a not so great billing experience as clients of a very big firm, and it's set us off on this journey to figure out how we can improve the client experience, specifically through the lens of the billing and collections experience.
So the high level on I win is we work right now with about 80 of the world's largest CPA firms and we are helping them internally automate their billing, collections and payment processes.
We quite literally built software that plugs into some of the legacy practice management systems that a lot of these traditional firms operate off of what they use for their time, their billing, et cetera and we pull out some data and we present data to clients in a modern interface that allows clients to see their payment history, to pay their bills. Oftentimes, folks listening to this, you probably have clients who have multiple business entities. They probably have multiple projects going on at any given time. What we've observed is a lot of those times I just wanted an easy way to go in, see their invoice, one click and pay, and we've created the apparatus to do that and in doing so, in kind of what we say, unlocking data from this legacy practice management infrastructure and by that I mean, you know again, firms listening to this.
You all probably work off of things like CCH access or Thompson Reuters practice CS, those traditional tools. By unlocking those data we've been able to not only build solutions that automate really our core focus right now billing collections and payment but we've expanded to additional use cases throughout. Again, just to bring it full circle, what we call the quote unquote revenue cycle, kind of that cyclical flow of behaviors that underlie the flow of revenue to a firm. You know everything from acquiring a client all the way to getting paid. We're now moving upstream and we made this announcement recently we have an engagement letter solution. So all of the nice bills and whistles of automation that we've brought to Billion in collection, we now basically give clients and their firms kind of a one quick, easy button for automating engagement letters and client onboarding. So big visions, big appetites and by unlocking data we're able to do a lot. So that's where we are right now, three years in.
Jeff: So talk a little bit I mean any accounting firms you know at the upper end of the market is pretty impressive. Let's dig into that a little bit so I win. I'm assuming is the system that they're using to automate their revenue process. But then I'm guessing they're also recommending and referring that to their clients as well. So talk about the dynamics of that relationship you have with the CPA firm.
Pat: Sure, yeah, so our firms. It's an interesting dynamic we have with our firms. Yes, they are using us as their internal systems and the value proposition, jeff, they're being you plug in Iowan and Basically you can put on autopilot. All the billing collections work, so measurably what happens is your day sales outstanding decline. You save a lot of time, you know, instead of your partners making collections called day in, day out. They don't have to because we can automate things like statements and we get clients an experience where they can literally go to one portal, click pay and be done.
The firm love it because it's unlocking Kind of time at the margins. That's freeing up capacity which, when we talk about transitioning to a kind of advisory services, that's a paramount concern. One of the foundational stats, jeff, for us that we see is 55% of CPA time is spent not on client service work, it's spent on something in the administrative back office. And for Iowan, as we think about our value proposition to the market, if we can turn that 55% into 25%, holy cow, that's a tronche of 30% of billable or workable time that could be allocated to new service lines, allowing folks to kind of staff up, etc. So we see us as kind of a behind-the-scenes asset to unlock capacity.
It was been interesting to your point. A lot of our CPA firm customers work with other CPA firms. So yes, absolutely. What we've seen is they have a great experience with us, is their clients have a great experience paying through us, and then there becomes a virtuous cycle of referral where we can kind of propagate that trend of Capacity unlocking just by virtue of operating as we operate.
So it's one of the things I love about the CPA space is how well networked and I mean that's in a good way, talk it into the firms are they all share best practices and ideas and, as we're now again three years into this journey of I, when we've been growing very quickly and that's why we'll spending even faster as a function of that network effect, you know it's interesting and I really like the, the mindset of unlocking or freeing up capacity At that partner level.
Jeff: I do quite a bit of speaking and one of the questions I use to kind of get air moving in the room is by a show of hands, how many of you have done work over the past week that honestly should have been done at a level below you or Automated and predictably every hand goes up in the room we create a nice breeze.
But we look at that and you know we I've got the benefit of having a little bit of data at our disposal through. You know we own the Rosenberg survey, we own inside public accounting, so we've got a lot of those benchmarking and analytic points to reference. And what's amazing to me, staggering to me, is the amount of work that we're just holding in with and not billing. And you know how reluctant the partners are to follow up on the billing and what some of the aging for the receivables are With these firms. And I look at this and I say, okay, if you've got an automated solution where you know the partners involvement plummet, we can continue to move the customer through that revenue Journey and I can reduce whip and I can free up capacity for the partners to be doing advisory-minded services where the value is. That's just a win-win and we see in the data how much lack of capacity there is at the partner level and what the AR aging and what the whip looks like in these firms, and in a lot of cases it's simply not pretty.
Pat: Well, and you're absolutely right, and the data are jar in some cases, by a firm's own admission. I mean, I think most firms would kind of look at their days in whip or their days in AR and say, yes, that's not ideal, that's not what we want, and the and, of course, the irony is those are the same firms that, in many ways, are Having some of their best years ever, and it's a function of some macro kind of tailwinds in favor of the profession. What we've observed further, though, is Well, the data perhaps, and and the the rubber meets the road, day-to-day experience is unique to the CPA space. There's a thematic consistency between this challenge in the CPA space and other professions that we've worked in. So, just for context, for the listeners, I did not come from a CPA background.
I'm a career of software entrepreneur and, jeff, I think I've shared this with you and your team my previous venture prior to I when was a healthcare technology business. Basically, we were focused on automating Financial processes and interchanges of data between large hospital systems and insurance company, and the core focus there was doing that Automatically, so that doctors and nurses wouldn't have to do it manually, and the same pains that persisted in healthcare, or what we see in the CPA space, which is you got a high dollar per hour or high salary professionals who want to operate at highs and best use kind of the highest, the most creative end of their licensure, and they sit there and eight hours a week they're beating their head against the wall doing something manual in a spreadsheet and what we want to do is unlock that time and again, you hear me say that a lot. We actually have a user conference in a couple of weeks and it's called Unlock. One of our missions is to unlock time and money for professional services firm.
But the idea here being that there's a compounding return. If you're able to do this well, if you can kind of cut in half your days in with just because you can get bills out the door faster, you're not only gonna free up time, you know that's. You know time in we spent on billing is now time for business development. Taking a client to play golf, you know, calling a client to say, hey, how's your business I mean all the things we want to do as professionals. We now have time for it.
But here's something else that's really fascinating. There's a direct correlation between the speed of billing and billed realization rates. A lot of firms we talked to, a lot of the firms we've seen have said, hey, listen, you know, we know that. You know we're not billing realization at the rate we want because there's some ungoverned processes here and there's behaviors of just you know, we just always give discounts, we write some realization down, just because that's what we've always done and what we've observed is the likelihood of writing down realization increases the more time lapses between the date of the last whip entry and the date the invoice is sent.
So the interest of that is also true, and we've corroborated that the faster you bill, the less likely you are going to write something down. And it's totally logical because I always use this example. You know, if you pull it all night or for a client and then you wait two months to bill them, you're kind of going to forget how hard you you beat yourself up to do right by them. But if you bill three days later, you are going to remember every minute of that and you are going to command the revenues that you rightly earned. So we're excited because we're not just unlocking time, we're showing a compounding benefit to the bottom line of the firm as well by growing realization rates.
Jeff: Now, pat, I know on your website, you know, in terms of target market, you're looking at, you know, maybe the 500 largest accounting firms in the country, so you're probably $20 million in revenue on up. Is there a floor at which firms are kind of priced out or the utility starts to not make sense, like what's the minimum size firm that you look at and say, hey, this is our sweet spot?
Pat: Jeff, great question. I'm glad you asked because, frankly, the total addressable market as we see it is expanding in both directions. Actually, when we started the firm, yes, we thought we were really going to be best economically suited to sports, to the top 200, 300 firms. But what we now see is firms all the way down to those with, say, even 2 million in top line revenues are fantastic fit for us, not just to realize value in terms of statistical impact on cash flow free enough time but we have kind of a fee model that makes economic sense as well. So I think our biggest customer now you're right, you see this a fantastic firm, very impressive. Everyone knows them by name.
We have a number of firms that are outside of the top 500 that are doing 3, 4 million in top line revenues, growing quickly of course. But we've designed a model that makes sense for them, makes sense for us. So we're excited to see that rephrase. It's unfortunate that the pains we see at the big firms are felt up and down the chain, but we're encouraged because those pains are pains we know we can solve and we figured out a model that allows us to do that. So, yeah, $2 million a year firms fantastic fit for IWIN.
Jeff: All right, that's fantastic, and just to reiterate that for our listeners. So there's no confusion $2 million firm and on up, which is well below, obviously, the top 500 firms in the country, and it sounds like you've been able to do something with a pricing model that makes it more palatable to those smaller firms. So let's come back to that in a minute. But as you're reaching out to a firm, says, hey, I want this right, I want to improve WIP, I want to improve realization, I want to improve AR aging, I want to be more profitable as a firm.
I'm guessing the number one hurdle that you've got to get over is what system does it replace and how do I get a new system adopted in my firm? Because it's amazing how the tax season is now year round. The firms used to have a little bit of downtime where they could focus on a big technology installation or something like that, and now there's a couple pockets, but for the most part they're just busy. So what kind of resistance do you get from potential customers when they're just trying to get their arms around the lift that it takes to install a system like IWIN?
Pat: I'm thrilled you asked me that question because we spent about a year behind the scenes doing a lot of heavy duty engineering to make sure that the answer I'm about to give is corroborated and grounded in reality. The very sincere answer, jeff, is it is not a big lift for us, and I say that because we are not asking firms to do a holistic rip and replace of their practice management system. In fact, it's the opposite. You can leave your practice management system in place and, with a couple of toggle system switches and a little bit of testing, we can integrate our solution. We're talking in a matter of weeks and that is true across basically every practice management system in the space. We've done and have in the wild in production, integrations with, again, thompson-royders, practice CS, cch Pro System and Access, practice Engine on-premise and Cloud Stor, delltech, meconomy, quickbooks, as you name it. We've covered the market and I mentioned we spent a year doing some engineering.
We started this company in June of 2020, so peak COVID and the reason we focus on this use case of billing and collection, because we started interviewing CFOs, managing partners, firm administrators, billing managers of top 500 firms. We were looking for a corroboration of use case and pain. They said hey, two things are true. I went if you guys are going to do anything of value, one, give us the easy button for billing collections and payments, give us a cash flow no-brainer. And two, make sure it plays nice with all the other stuff we have in place technologically speaking.
So for about a year nobody knew about us because we were consciously under the radar. We did not announce ourselves yet and it's because we were doing all that integration work so that when we did come to market say, hey, here's us saying that we got the greatest thing since widespread, we could back it up with some really robust integration work. I think further again. We have almost 80 customers now. One of the bright points for us is our net promoter score, jeff is. I think our latest score is a 74, which is to say very good.
Yeah, we're really proud of that. A reflection of that metric is the ease of integration and the investment we make on what we call customer success, making sure you don't just buy this off or you get a lot of easy value out of it.
Jeff: Just to give our listeners a little bit of context on that, the average NPS score across all US businesses is a 16. The scale is negative 100 to positive 100. Pat, yours was a 74? It was a 74. That is world-class.
Pat: Thank you yeah.
Listen I got the credit words too. I got to give a hand to my co-founder, chris Furlong, who built he and his team, I should say built the software that makes people so happy. My other co-founder, tanner Fritz, who oversees our customer success team. His team oversees the implementations. They give people very detailed this is how you use it guides. They help facilitate client-facing communications. A firm wants to use our software. You got to tell clients who's a change in how you pay your bills. We have a whole playbook for how we do that. This is very much a team effort that we go through to maintain that score.
Jeff: You've got a pretty comprehensive website. I mean, there's a lot that I can learn just by visiting the site and learning a little bit more about it. For our listeners it's I-WINA-I-A-I-W-Y-NA. I would encourage you to come out here and check this out. But if I'm an accounting firm that likes what I say, who do I reach out to? How do I get the ball rolling? Take me through the process that would end in a sale and then the process that would end in we switch the system on and you're ready to use it.
Pat: Absolutely. First of all, folks can reach out to me, and I say that because there's obviously a unique partnership between I-WIN and engineered advisory. This is a premier partnership interest of mine and I want to be a contact for any folks who are interested. You can email me at patrickmorell at I-WINAI my information is on the website as well or reach out to me on LinkedIn.
What would then happen is the following you probably end up having two calls with us. The first would be some initial Q&A. What we like to do is get through some baseline what's your firm pain point? What systems are you on? How can we help you? The subsequent call would then be a demo of the solutions that are going to make the most sense for your firm, because, again, we have to your point, a wide range of solutions. We want to be sure that what we're going to present to you is applicable to the pain point you got and to that point, you'd see a business case and a proposal. We want to map out some ROI for you. Make it clear that it's either a validated business decision or we'll tell you hey, listen, you know what? We obviously can't help you.
Jeff: That has yet to happen.
Pat: But we want to be totally transparent on the map. And then, from the point of go, you sign a contract with us, you say, hey, we're ready to use IWIN. What we typically advise is you can. You can anticipate between four and six weeks between date of signature and date of solution. Go live. And that is a reflection of hey, listen, there are other projects underway. Your IP team may be busy, but really from a net standpoint there's about 13 hours total of work that needs to be done from a testing, feedback, planning standpoint, and then it gets up and running. So this is a low lift. We move very quickly. And then, from a pricing standpoint, oh sorry, jeff, go ahead. I can clarify pricing if you'd like.
Jeff: Yeah, go ahead, I'll let you finish pricing and then come back.
Pat: Perfect. We learned some lessons early based on feedback from customers. Burns did not want to be kind of nickel and dime on per seat licenses or volume licenses. Jeff, one of the ideas we had initially is oh great, we're a billing and collections company. What is charged like per bill issued? But the variance between two firms of comparable size and the number of invoices they send was so dramatic we said no, we need a more intuitive and fair model. So, listen, job to be done.
Why does IWIN exist? We exist to strengthen and speed up firm cash flow. I mean, that's the metric by which our ROI is measured. So what we created is an index model that basically takes a firm's top line revenue, we drop it into a calculator and, based on the revenue size of your firm, we give you an annual license fee and it's unlimited usage, unlimited users, and it scales as you grow. So a lot of our firms have doubled in size and the revenue model will actually grow with them. Our fees won't double in size as well. It's actually a tiered model so that basically the net percentage of revenue equivalent they pay us decreases over time.
Basically, we get cheaper as the firm grows and it's exciting to see that.
Jeff: All right, so let me just recap that a little bit. The thing I like initially is, if I'm a firm and I just want to dip my toe in the water and learn more about it, the first call you're going to learn about me, you're going to determine what my pain points are that may be different from my competitive firm down the street, and then, as a result of that first call, you're going to do a demo that is actually customized to my specific situation. So, speaking to how you can address the things that I have challenges with, and then if I decide that, yeah, this makes sense, I'm going to move forward. I've got a pricing model that kind of scales as my firm scales as I hit these different tiers, which I'm guessing is how you've opened this up to some of the smaller firms that we talked about a little bit earlier. And then, once I pull the trigger we're talking four to six weeks from the time we sign to the time I'm actually sending an invoice and everything's kind of turned on and functioning. You nailed it.
I mean that's impressive in terms of the function that you're talking about automating here and I just in the environment of the accounting firms today, where staffing is a challenge finding good people, keeping good people you know, a lot of firms have a lot of bodies wrapped up in this revenue function where, hey, we can free them up. In some cases, maybe we can replace them or not need to replace them. I just think there's an accelerator here that happens by the automation that comes into this process, and I'm guessing you're seeing that in spades.
Pat: Precisely, yeah, there's. We've had firms who've been with us now for two, over two years and they're seeing a consistency of ROI. And so, again, compounding return Because the other piece, that value added listen, we need to distill ourselves down so that you're paying I when X and you're getting in return X plus a heck of a lot more. And we showed that through the DSR reduction, savings and merchant processing, et cetera. There's a range of qualitative benefits as well and those reflected it. And it's not just we're saving billable professionals time, it's we're saving them the headache of having to spend that time on billing.
And for anybody who's done billing out of a legacy practice management system. You know that's not the most pleasant thing in the world and further we're delivering kind of experiential wins to their clients as well. And I look at it this way we're a client and we use this example all the time.
I'm a client in the real estate business and maybe I have, you know, dozens of different business entities and if I'm going to pay my, you know my, my bills, my CPA firm, without I, I may be looking at an hour's worth of handwriting checks and putting stuff in the mail. I went one click and I'm done. So we try to balance the quantitative ROI with the qualitative, because then today this is again a people business, as we well know, and we want to deliver people felt wins as they use our software.
Jeff: Okay. So let me ask I don't want to say the hard question, but probably a question that you know once the CPA gets excited about bringing this into his or her practice, then the technology people start creeping and you know we have questions about. You know, how is this upgraded? What is the security? Etc, etc, etc. So talk for a minute to our IT professionals that might be listening to this and give them some sense of what they're in for in terms of updates and security and all that good stuff.
Pat: Absolutely so first of all, to my friends in IT and I am one of you were hosted in the Google cloud and while the security bells and whistles that come with that were PCI compliant, we're not to comply. We are also talk to type two audited and we have an updated report, totally clean. So people are appreciative of that. Obviously, it's a flag to waiver. On data security in terms of releases, yeah, so we are the belief software is never finished. We are always constantly enhancing feature sets, but with that comes plenty of advanced notice around kind of additional releases, and obviously being a cloud deployed asset makes it very easy to push those releases live. And then, yeah, all kinds of best in class SLAs in terms of uptime and data security. So what we've found is and again, I won't put words in the mouth of our IT sponsors, but we find that we're often among the easiest to deploy solution and we got some great testimonials on our website from some leading CIOs in the space who can corroborate that.
Jeff: Okay, well, I think we've covered kind of a gamut that an accounting firm would want to know as they evaluate the solution. We've talked about your process, how you diagnose and then prescribe a custom solution. We've talked about the timetable to implement. We've talked about your billing structure. You've been very generous and advise people that if they have questions that are part of the accelerator to reach out to you directly and in your role as the chief revenue officer and the co-founder, I appreciate them being able to go directly to the top to ask their questions. And it sounds like the next step is exactly that for me to reach out, schedule some time for you to get to know me, and what information should I bring to that initial phone call? Like, what do you want to know about how we're doing business right now? That will help make that initial call productive.
Pat: The fantastic question, jeff. Thank you for asking that. So the key things we're interested to understand are some initial blocking and tackling how big is your firm, how many partners, what's your top line revenue, the practice management system that you have in place and also how do you profit payments currently.
What are you using to have people sending checks to the bank, et cetera? The big thing, though we'd love to have a discussion, not around kind of bits and pieces of a tech stack, but what are the big strategic goals for your firm? Are you interested in cutting costs and freeing up some cash flow? Are you interested in really driving capacity? Are you just interested in getting a win for your people? Do you have folks who are really beating their head against the wall around billing and they just need an easy button for it? What we find is firms want to do all those things, but they typically have a pretty clear stack rank of what they want to prioritize first and, in our experience, the more kind of transparent and, to a certain degree, even vulnerable firms can be as they get to know us, it helps us really calculate how we can be a good business partner to them.
So if you're willing to give us a 30 minute kind of back and forth discussion, we can then give you a 30 to 45 minute demo and, frankly, jeff, folks are going to know within a couple of hours if I went is going to be a fit for them and how we can help, and we can typically take it there pretty quickly.
Jeff: Awesome, pat. I really want to thank you for taking the time today to further educate our listeners on the product. Again, full disclosure. We are in the process of building a relationship with IWIN and using them for some of the needs we have in our revenue process. It's been a good experience and can share that with all of you that are considering having a conversation. But the first step is to reach out to Pat. Again, very gracious of you to provide your personal contact information for them to do that.
And I encourage you to get that done because if you take a look at your whip, if you took a look at your AR aging, if you took a look at your receivables, you know the realization piece is real the closer you bill to doing the work, the more you're going to bill for doing that work and the quicker you're going to capture that money at a higher realization point, and we see this in the Rosenberg survey. You know, if you want to know what correlates with net income for partner, it's rates and leverage, and if we can use tools like IWIN to help better leverage the time of the partners, then you can look forward to increasing net income for partner. It's as simple as that, you know. Bring up your realization, reduce your whip, increase your leverage and the profits will follow. So I encourage all of our listeners to reach out to Pat and learn more. Pat will look forward to seeing you at next year's conference when we reconvene down in Dallas, and I really appreciate you taking the time to be with us today.
Pat: Jeff, it was my pleasure. Thank you for your partnership, thanks for letting me dial in today and thank you all for listening. It's been a pleasure.
Jeff: That's it for today. Take care everybody. Bye-bye.