Thrive Accountants, a specialist accounting firm for B2B early-stage tech founders and start-ups, has partnered with R&D tax fintech company, WhisperClaims, to formalise and professionalise its nascent R&D tax claims revenue stream, while maximising its relationship as a trusted advisor to its clients.
Thrive, based in West Sussex, offers tax, compliance and full finance-function outsourcing for its start-up and scale-up clients in the B2B-tech space. An important and growing part of Thrive’s service lines is the provision of R&D tax claims, which Thrive has been offering since 2014.
New Revenue Streams
Until recently, Thrive offered its clients the R&D tax claims service as an ‘add-on’: Thrive would submit the basis of the claim on their client’s behalf – who often weren’t charged for this service. James Lizars, CEO of Thrive explains that the main reason he was providing this service for no to low cost was that he felt “clients were often being charged overinflated rates, giving the service a poor reputation”, particularly for tech businesses – where, he adds, “the case for the claim is not particularly hard to make”.
However, as Thrive’s client base grew, and more clients needed R&D claims, James recognised the need to professionalise this offering: “I identified that our existing way of working wasn’t perhaps the strongest way in which we could serve our clients, and I also felt that we could potentially automate a lot of the manual work we were doing to produce the claims in the first place. When I found WhisperClaims’ solution, it felt like the right middle ground for our business. Their R&D tax platform provides the right balance and gives us the full auditability and the reporting to really strengthen the claims submission process, with everything fully transparent to our clients.”
In June 2020, Thrive engaged with WhisperClaims and started to use its app and platform. Describing the user experience, James says: “It was really good. It did exactly what I wanted right away and I found it really easy to pick up and start processing our first claims. Suddenly, it revolutionised the way that we process R&D tax claims at Thrive.” This was a fundamental stepping stone for the accounting practice compared to previously offering the service free of charge – particularly given the commitment and responsibility when taking on R&D tax claims.
When explaining the new fee structure to Thrive’s clients, James emphasised the need to professionalise Thrive’s approach to R&D – especially with HMRC tightening its approach to the tax claims. “I explained that we have developed this service-line that I believe is the right balance between professionalism and quality versus cost, as it still compares very favourably to the other alternatives out there, and we received no pushback whatsoever.”
Supporting Pre-Profit Start-Ups as the Trusted Advisor
Since working with WhisperClaims, Thrive has processed over 20 claims using the platform, and by the end of January 2022, had submitted approximately £800,000 worth of R&D tax claims. This has had a profound impact on the firm’s early-stage tech business clients in particular, as it allows them to access their money much quicker, which helps them to extend their runway.
James comments: “Because WhisperClaims’ platform is quick, intuitive, yet robust and effective, we have been able to get these R&D claims turned around really quickly. We don’t need to conduct interviews in the same way that an external consultant would because we know the business already, and can, in turn, line up the basis for the claim before the year has closed. The speed of turnaround is a really important benefit to our clients.”
Mike Dean, Managing Director, from WhisperClaims concludes: “Removing the need to outsource claims is a crucial benefit of WhisperClaims’ platform. An accountant is equipped to give the right advice at the right moment – already being the true trusted advisor to their clients, our platform gives accountants the confidence to deliver compliant and profitable R&D tax services and to continue to deepen that client/advisor relationship.