CEO Interview

Moneypenny ‘blocks out the noise’ and listens to clients

Zoya Malik speaks to Moneypenny group CEO Joanna Swash about her career path and the future of outsourced services to support the accounting sector

Zoya Malik: Kindly tell us about your career development, entrepreneurship interests and path towards becoming Group CEO at Moneypenny.

Joanna Swash: I began working for Moneypenny in 2004, having run my own small business selling parts for laser printers.

It was an easy decision to go and work with [Moneypenny co-founders] Ed [Reeves] and Rachel [Clacher], as I recognised what they were trying to achieve from the very start, as well as the importance of customer service and providing exceptional first impressions to clients.

I did question whether I would be able to work for others having been so independent, but I joined the company as their first salesperson and I'm still here 17 years later. From day one, I was given the respect and flexibility to grow to where I am today.

Joanna Swash, group CEO, Moneypenny

ZM: What services does Moneypenny provide to the accounting sector?

JS: Moneypenny provides outsourced telephone answering and live chat support for accountancy firms.

As well as traditional out-of-hours and overflow support, we offer dedicated phone lines and a digital switchboard solution, which uses voice recognition to transfer calls.

We handle 15 million calls and live chats for financial services businesses every year and are trusted by the UK’s top accounting firms, including five of the Top 30.

ZM: What is your involvement with the ICAEW and other bodies in raising the profile of the accounting and finance industry?

JS: We’ve worked with many bodies in the accounting and financial profession over many years, and this will long continue. We approach our partnerships in the same way we approach our clients – giving the very best service possible.

We’ve found that knowledge-sharing between industry workers and suppliers is a fantastic way to ensure high standards are at the forefront of people’s minds. It’s about agreeing about industry standards from the ground up.

ZM: What attracted you to Moneypenny and what is your vision for its growth and expansion?

JS: Rachel, Ed and their people-centred business model first attracted me to Moneypenny and convinced me to join the team. It blew my mind when I realised that it was genuine and not just a sales pitch!

Moneypenny is all about connecting people and having great conversations and that continues to drive us in all that we do. Our vision is to be our clients' trusted partners, a seamless extension to their businesses. To achieve this, we are always talking to them, listening and working on solutions.

We are building technology in tandem with our people to ensure that those conversations can be the best that they can be. Growth is rapid, both globally and across industry sectors, and we’ve recently opened new offices to accommodate our US growth.

ZM: What specific problems can Moneypenny solve for the accounting industry?

JS: Our solutions solve issues with internal capacity to handle client communications that could be leading to poor client experience, damaged reputation and loss of earnings. We also enable firms to extend their availability around the clock and boost digital presence.

I can offer an example of our client feedback as follows. Jonny Woodward, director of IT at PKF Francis Clark, has said: “Our reception team needed help handling calls at peak times as they were also busy providing administration support, welcoming guests and preparing meeting rooms. We looked into a call handling solution by talking with a number of our partners. After a recommendation and free trial, it was clear that Moneypenny could give our clients the positive experience and first impression we wanted.

“Moneypenny provides overflow call handling support for our eight offices as well as a dedicated phone line for our payroll team. Moneypenny receptionists answer payroll calls according to a brief we provided, to ensure calls are transferred quickly and the right information is captured every time.

“Moneypenny made our decision to outsource overflow call handling easy. Our receptionists and account manager are incredibly professional and friendly, and ensure calls are always answered within three rings. The flexibility of the service means they can always help, even as our needs change. Clients receive the same level of service as when our team answer their calls – which is the ultimate compliment to Moneypenny.”

ZM: How do you recruit and train call centre colleagues to support the accounting sector? What criteria do you apply in your selection? How well versed are they in financial information and knowledge?

JS: Firstly, we have incredibly high standards when it comes to our recruitment process. We’re blessed in that we receive an enormous number of unsolicited CVs each year – reaching into the thousands – so we have the luxury of cherry-picking the best people to work for our clients.

We hire for attitude and give them the skills and information to do the job. In terms of specific knowledge for our financial clients, this is something we work with and develop on a client-by-client basis. Our clients are the experts and equip our staff with the knowledge they need to best serve their own clients, adapting as necessary. It’s a formula that works very well.

ZM: What are the cost savings for companies, accounting networks and associations in integrating with Moneypenny services?

JS: As well as ensuring that each and every valuable lead is captured, Moneypenny services help block out the noise, freeing up your internal resources to focus on the more commercial aspects of their roles.

ZM: Where are your call centres based and why? What are the differences in services, attitudes and cultures in service delivery between the centres?

ET: We employ over 1,000 people globally in our stunning offices in both Wrexham, UK and Atlanta, USA. There are slight cultural differences; however, our attitude and culture remain consistent across all offices and all members of the Moneypenny family.

It is one of compassionate leadership – a belief that the business success is down to the happiness and wellbeing of employees and that each individual is unique.

We are passionate about providing a safe, nurturing environment for them to be the very best that they can be. This unique culture has been at the heart of the company's growth and its ability to innovate, react and grow.

ZM: What further investments is Moneypenny making to strengthen its USP, and differentiate and grow its market and services?

JS: People and the very best tech products are at the heart of everything we do, whether that's our team or our clients.

One of our core beliefs is happy people equals happy customers. We value our people and are trusted partners with clients, always listening and communicating in order to adapt, innovate and evolve to meet ever-changing requirements in today's business environment. 

One particular area we are focusing on is how technology can superpower our people and create an even more efficient service for our clients. We are passionate about how we can innovate, partner and create new and more effective ways to communicate for our trusted partners, through being at the forefront of creating and embracing new technologies.

By cultivating an agile, resilient workplace culture, we are able to develop our services through listening to our clients, from a Covid screening chatbot to digital switchboards to market specific innovations to aid sector recovery. 

ZM: How are you ensuring diversity, equality and inclusion policies and opportunities at Moneypenny, and incentivising women in the workplace?

JS: Our current gender split is around 83.5% female to 16.5% male. We have a strong female leadership team who believe in leading by example at work and balancing it effectively with home life