In the evolving landscape of the accounting industry, Gravitate Accounting stands out as a disruptor. Embracing automation, tech and a people-first approach, they are redefining traditional practices to offer a fresh, modern perspective on accounting services. Co-Founder Sam Newton talks us through some of the key ways in which they’re innovating for the future.


Prior to setting up Gravitate Accounting, I worked for a number of accountancy firms and was able to see in some cases where old processes could be holding back progress. Digitisation is huge in this industry, so I saw plenty of big opportunities for pushing that further. There’s an event each year called Xerocon, which is a cloud accounting conference run by the people behind Xero – a piece of online accountancy software that has overtaken Sage. There’s an app that links it to just about every industry, and it is massively helpful in terms of automating clients and finance functions, saving them time and money in the process. Even though other firms in Sheffield were using part of its functionality, I saw a chance to make a full go of it and build a firm around this software, supported by additional tools such as Pleo, GoCardless, DEXT and the growth of online-only banks like Starling, Monzo and Revolut. These all provide game-changing solutions to some of the historically time-consuming tasks of the past.


So, automation and embracing tech was one driver. Another was realising how being driven by traditional timesheets can be a restrictive way of working with clients. For example, if I had a client who perhaps were struggling a bit, I’d want to go spend half a day in the business so I could understand the difficulties more and advise on some changes. The traditional model will have an hourly rate for that sort of service, which can become very expensive – and the issues still might not get resolved!

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To combat the issues of charging per hour, we use GoProposal, where the client can select a bespoke service from a list of options, guided by a member of our team, which tailors everything to their needs and quotes them there and then for the job. It feels like a much more open way of doing it, especially with it being a fixed monthly price rather than a big bill landing once a year. If people want to call, email or WhatsApp us, there are no extra charges as it’s all built into the monthly fee.


We always say that we can train a person to be a good accountant, but we can’t train a good accountant to be a good person. Now more than ever, we make sure that we’re recruiting the right personalities: individuals who are comfortable interacting and presenting themselves to clients. Even if we’re sending over some monthly accounts, we’ll use an app called Loom which records a video of us talking through the accounts bit by bit. It’s much more personable and helpful than simply sending over a report with some notes; we can translate the numbers and explain precisely what they mean for the business concerned in an engaging way.


It starts with getting the right people in, but then you’ve got to put things in place to make sure the office culture reflects the sort of business you want to run. We want it to be a lively, welcoming atmosphere in the office here. Throughout the team, we’ve got decades-worth of experience with big firms, so we’ve been able to discuss and cherry-pick the best bits of office culture across a wide range of companies and implement it here. We offer flexible working, but the majority of the time people come into the office, which is probably a good sign!

“It’s about constantly trying to improve the overall experience. We recently sent around a list of potential benefits to the staff, asking which they’d prefer. This year we were able to implement the top eight from the responses.”

It could be as simple as having a fresh fruit delivery for the office each week or going on a ‘work-cation’, where we combine a bit of work with a trip away and some team bonding time. We’re currently rolling out staff mobiles and trialling dual sim phones so staff can keep personal time and work time apart. We have local start-up businesses and freelancers rent desk space in the office, which keeps things fresh, interesting and more often than not, leads to some form of collaboration or useful networking. Oh, and a beer fridge in the office keeps a lot of people happy too!


In accountancy, you’re either working in practice or industry. But here at Gravitate, we’ve looked at how we can bridge that gap. What I’ve personally always liked about the job is getting involved in people’s businesses, spending time with them and getting to the crux of issues. As such, we offer our Outsource FD services to companies and keep it flexible: they might do one day one month, and then five days the following month – whatever works best! We can move things around and deliver that service as well as practice-based advisory work for a wide range of clients.

Personally, I am the FD for a company called Unity Health Group and work up to three days a week on that, but I can also mix that with my practice-based work from the office. For the clients themselves, it means that rather than using a big chunk of the budget to hire an in-house financial director on a six-figure salary, they can have access to a full team of financial directors working together for a fraction of that cost. Plus, we’ll be able to keep them up to date with all the latest technology, advising on how they can optimise and automate their business for the future. It seems to more sense for all involved.


A lot of accounting companies have a ceiling when it comes to staff progression. There’s no clear path other than knowing a person is above you and perhaps it’s a case of waiting for them to leave before there’s any chance of stepping up.

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We’ve built a model where staff members can develop and grow. When they have got to the stage where they are ready, they can set up what we call a ‘squad’. They essentially run a business within a business and begin building a team, taking on clients and building up a portfolio. When they reach a certain portfolio size, they’ll earn 20% of whatever they bring in for the company. Then, following that, when they’ve hit another set target, we’ll give them a shareholding in the company itself. It’s essentially an open model that sets out a path from member of the team to a shareholder running a squad.


Of course, when business is going well, it’s right to shout about that in your socials. But I do think it’s important to give the honest side of running a business, where you discuss how difficult it can be to juggle workload with family life, the importance of taking a break and avoiding burnout. LinkedIn, for example, can be a strange place where everything is always so positive, but I think starting genuine discussions about where things aren’t as great is just as important.

Sticking with social media, I feel like we’ve embraced some platforms that may traditionally be overlooked by other firms in the industry. For example, I think we’ve got the most Google reviews out of any Sheffield accountancy firm. It may not be something which we win much work from at the moment, but there’s every chance it will become a more important factor over the next few years. We make sure we’re making noise across all the main platforms, growing our following on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. We will soon start using TikTok to create educational content around accounting services, which I think is also important even though I might get a bit of stick whenever I appear on one! It’s important as a modern business to move with the times and anticipate the increasing importance of social media across all industries.

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