Paul Mould

Outsourcing Your Golf Club Accounts – Interview with Paul Mould

Perhaps due to golf club’s being relatively small businesses, the idea of outsourcing certain aspects is nothing new. Many clubs outsource areas such as HR and IT, common back-office functions that are serviced by external companies. However, the notion of using an external company to undertake accounting and payroll functions is less common in the golf clubs, certainly within the UK.

Since taking on their first club in March 2018, Accountancy Matters offer just such a service – specialised to the UK golf industry. We chat with Paul Mould, Director of the company which is based in Hartley Wintney in Hampshire, to explore how it can benefit a club.

Why did you start Accountancy Matters?

I’d been visiting many, many golf clubs for a number of years as the Director of Material Matters. Our aim with that company was simple really, to provide purchase and contract management for golf clubs. We essentially exploited the economies of scale you get when ordering in greater volume. The issue with the vast majority of clubs is that they didn’t have that purchasing power to exploit these economies. Working with multiple clubs, we could do this for them.

On my travels, and broadening the mission to really provide efficiencies across the board at clubs, it became clear that accounting and bookkeeping was a time-consuming and often expensive function. Again, the small-business nature of a golf club meant that hiring a qualified Accountant was disproportionately expensive. Hence our creation of Accountancy Matters.

Presumably establishing an efficient accounting function for a club from afar is a significant challenge?

The key to it, as with many things, is to have well-versed and watertight procedures at the Accountancy Matters end. Once these are in place, replicating them across multiple golf clubs becomes very achievable. In this regard, there was a massive jump forward in cloud-based technology around 2017/18. Document management software became readily available and Xero Accounting really pioneered cloud-based accounting packages. It’s this that made the ability to management a business’s accounts from distance possible.

In addition, having a great team is also hugely important. We currently employ 18 people in Accountancy Matters and we’ve been recruiting solidly for the last 2 years, mirroring our growth in the number of clubs we work with.

We’ve got an amazing team and we continue to build on that, with a terrific culture and attitude within the office.

Are golf club accounts any different from the accounts of other businesses do you find?

Not different in terms of accountancy practice, but I would say a knowledge of how a golf club operates is important in terms of applying the right practice. It’s about having the specialist knowledge relating to the differing revenue streams within a golf club business and how a club’s VAT works.

Having worked with clubs for so many years in Material Matters, we had a very clear understanding of operations, which really helped us in understanding the accounting aspects of a club.

What’s been the biggest change in accounting that you’ve experienced during your time in the industry?

Technologies in the accounting world have moved on so fast over the last decade. For many years, Sage Line-50 software with manually inputted data stored locally was the standard recipe. Today, there are so many more software options available – all with additional functionalities that make the clubs job (and ours) a lot easier.

We use document management software which means from e-invoices and scans we can extract real data so as to negate the need for manual input. As a result, we reckon there is about an 80% reduction in time for the management of supplier invoices.

Digitalised documents also make the retrieval of data so much quicker too. Our clubs can now use the software to identify the historical prices, for instance, of any products they’ve purchased. That’s particularly useful with inflation at the levels we’re experiencing today.

Golf club’s accounts, particularly payroll, is very sensitive information. Is there a concern about keeping this information safe and secure?

Security is right up there as a priority for us, but again, technology has advanced very quickly to help us with this.

The cloud-storage we use is encrypted and protected to the highest level, with varying layers of access depending on who’s trying to view it. And thanks to the cloud-storage, we have an automated back-up that ensures we’ll never lose any information. In days gone by, a broken computer could have signalled the destruction of all historical financial data – not today, fortunately.

What do your clients consider the main advantages of outsourcing their accounting function?

I’d say the first would be the time saved. Where some clubs would employ more of a bookkeeper than an accountant, the Manager (or even a committee member) would often have to get involved in month-end procedures and management accounts creation.

Linked closely with that there are also obvious cost-saving benefits. Some of our clubs have saved in excess of £10,000 per year annually. When you consider the salary of the accountant or bookkeeper, National Insurance, pension contributions and also the benefits and training – it all adds up.

The third would be operational efficiency. It’s not just the Manager’s life that’s made easier – it’s all the heads of department from the Head Greenkeeper through to the Catering or Food & Beverage Manager. They all become more efficient through the use of our accounting technology, able to spend more time undertaking their core roles rather than getting bogged down by financial admin.

In addition to removing many of the burdens of an in-house accounting function within a club, and the cost and time savings you’ve already mentioned, what would you consider the main benefit for them to be?

I think the detail and analysis we provide is extremely helpful to a club. As the saying goes, what can’t be measured – can’t be managed. We found that some clubs only produced very basic accounts that didn’t allow the Manager to see in any great depth the trends within the business.

I’ll give you a basic example of green fee revenue. This is often one line on the management accounts, yet green fees come in a number of different guises. We provide a greater level of insight that separates visitors, members-guests and golf society green fees, often with accompanied by a headcount of users for each too.

As I said, just a simple example, but greater depth of financial information is so important for any business. We like to think that it helps the club make informed decisions based on evidence, not just gut instinct, and that can only be good for the business.

You’ve also recently made much of the environmental impact of paper waste and how your systems reduce this. Perhaps you can explain further?

Protecting the environment has been high on the agenda for many golf clubs over a number of years now and this often focuses on the golf course. However, paper waste is still a huge problem.

Seven million tonnes of paper waste are still sent to landfill every year. That’s the equivalent of 103,000 double-decker buses. When you also consider that it takes 24 trees to make one tonne of paper, that’s so damaging to our environment.

Aided by increased technology again, we endeavour to operate a paperless accounting system.

As the preferred Xero Accounts migration partner of intelligentgolf, and well-versed in migration of data from other popular golf management systems, Accountancy Matters are well able to establish a golf clubs accounting function quickly and efficiently – often turning around implementation within a month.

It’s a service already being enjoyed by over 35 golf clubs and certainly one that many more will seriously consider over the forthcoming years, as exploring all cost-efficiencies starts to play an increasingly important part of a business’s protection against unavoidable price increases in energy, water and other consumables.


1800 801 amgl