Host – Kylie Sultana (00:08):
Hi, guys. I’ve got Fahad and Alesha from Tax App joining me for this episode. I’m really excited to have you guys here and to learn all about everything about your business, about yourselves. For the listeners, you are actually partners in business and in love, let’s say. I really want to get into a little bit of that. We are The Money Brew and we do talk about money and couples. I’d love to hear how you guys organise money in your business and personally, if you’re happy to delve into that.
But first, I’d really love to hear about your accounting firm. Alesha, did you want to tell us a bit?
Alesha Masaud (00:53):
Primarily, our accounting firm is called Tax App and the basis of it is to be a really technologically-advanced accounting firm. We want it to be in step with the startups and where the technology is going. We’ve got two things that we do under Tax App’s umbrella. We’ve got the traditional accounting firm where we meet people face to face. However, it still has a startup feel and we can service all of Australia through a video call concept. Then another part that we’ve got is we’ve got a personalised app solution, and that is primarily for micro businesses and personal tax scenario, and that’s where you can get a bunch of free bookkeeping stuff, mileage tracker, work from home log book and receipt upload functionalities for micro businesses. Or even just if you just want to keep track of your personal finances, you can just upload them there. It’s an accounting firm with a technology edge, I like to call it.
Host – Kylie Sultana (02:01):
I love that because when you think of accountants, traditional accountants, you think of offices full of paper and those big compactors, people storing all of their files. But I love that you’re doing everything digitally. Because a lot of businesses now, especially startups, are technology-driven. They’re going to be naturally drawn towards accountants or businesses that are technology-driven just like them. I really love that. What made you decide to want to do that?
Alesha Masaud (02:32):
I think it was … Fahad is quite a creative person in our relationship. He’s the creative mind and I’m more of a … I like the rules-based approach, and I can repeat stuff that I’ve done before. Fahad came up with the idea of having an app, and I was more in the side of having an accounting firm, and then just like our marriage, we thought, “How about combine the two?” and then we have it.
Host – Kylie Sultana (03:04):
I love it. I love it. Fahad, would you say that that’s your differentiating factor? Is that what makes you guys different?
Fahad Gul (03:11):
Yeah. Adding onto that, that is definitely our differentiating factor. But it’s combined, as you said, Kylie, that there’s a lot of paper in different accounting firms and I wanted to create something new, something that has never been done before and that’s why I came with the idea of an app. What I noticed was there’s a lot of businesses that are in Excel, and micro businesses that don’t have tools available when they’re starting out, and they’re trying to gain some income but the expenses are coming up and coming up, so I wanted to give them a free solution so they can start up with their accounting, bookkeeping and all the things that they need. That’s how the app came into being.
With the accounting firm, we wanted to have a startup feel in the accounting firm. We wanted people to get attracted with technology-driven accounting firms, something that you don’t go to a local accountant down the road. They feel different. They feel that this accounting firm is going to actually going to reduce their cost through innovative technologies, and that’s how we did it. Also, another differentiating factor about our accounting firm is a lot of accountants, you see them every quarter of the end of the year and they’re going to charge you a big bulk of fees and the accounting firms are driven by six minute interval units. Every time you pick up a phone, accountant is talking to you and also have a time sheet up there and recording the time that you’re talking to them.
We thought that a lot of the times, when you speak to accountant, when you really need them, you have this inside your head, “Oh, I’m going to call him and he’s going to charge me. Is this even worth the call?” and that kind of thing, so we developed a monthly subscription model. What we do in our initial meeting is one hour, two hours, sometimes three hours, we talk to the businesses, understand them and let them know, fully understand their business, and we analyse how much need they have for an accountant throughout the year and based on that, create a monthly subscription plan that includes everything, chatting with us, calling us, doing all their work. They can contact us through the app or they can contact through any channels. They don’t have to worry about anything about us charging them intervals thing. That makes us different.
Another thing that I wanted to mention is an example of a game developer that came to us and he came to us and he said, “Oh, the only thing I’m not happy about my accountant is the customer service, so that’s why I googled you and I wanted a better customer service.” We said, “You came to the exact place that you want to be,” because technology driven clients, game developers are something that really benefit from Tax App. He came to us and what we saw is that because accountants are lacking technology in their firms, they can’t understand the technology of the client’s businesses.
Host – Kylie Sultana (06:54):
Fahad Gul (06:57):
What happened with that was that he was developing games for big players in USA. There was just a company in Australia. All his contractors were overseas-based, and he was doing all his work in USA. What does that mean? You don’t have to pay GST. All those years, his accountant was charging GST and lodging those basis and we [inaudible 00:07:28] close to 50 grand back of GST. He said-
Host – Kylie Sultana (07:30):
What happens in that case? Were you able to rewind that? Were you able to get that back?
Fahad Gul (07:39):
The good thing was he started his business just one and a half years ago, so there was not too much work to do, but just having this technology and knowing those fact book, because traditional accountants are just looking at traditional occupations and they know traditional things, they don’t know stuff that is technology based and that can really benefit what Tax App does.
Host – Kylie Sultana (08:06):
I guess that also highlights getting to know your client and the client getting to know who they’re working with as well. I mean, that accountant really should have known that there was no GST to be charged on those things and $50,000 for a startup is a lot of money. I mean, that’s a lot of money for anybody, but specifically in the startup phase because you need all the money you can get, and that could have made a potential difference to the business, the cashflow back when he was starting. That’s a massive win, I’d say, for the client, so he must’ve been like worshipping the ground you walked on for getting that money back for him. Well done. That’s awesome.
Fahad Gul (08:46):
Host – Kylie Sultana (08:48):
How do you guys use technology yourself? How do you leverage technology in the business yourself?
Fahad Gul (08:55):
In our business and in terms of accounting world, what we have seen in a lot of accounting firms is they’re still paper-based. There’s a lot of work being done in accounting firms and their processes that is … we call it waste. The clients is being charged for those processes because the accounting firm, the traditional accounting firm, has not adopted technology that is reducing their costs, that is reducing the client’s bill and that is making things faster to do. What we as Tax App and what our goal is whenever a new technology comes up, whether it’s being different types of apps or different type of connections between two apps that can save a lot of manual work, we adopt it and we are doing it as …
As you know, technology is being developed day by day and new products are being developed and whatever we see that can help our clients in their industry, we are looking into it and we are trying to see if that will help our clients in our firm in reducing the time that we are taking to do the work and also reducing our costs, which in turn reduces our client’s costs.
Host – Kylie Sultana (10:30):
Reducing costs at the moment, I mean, the cost of living, I mean, everybody’s struggling with that at the moment. If something can get a little bit cheaper, then I’m all for it. Who would you say is your target market then, given that it’s an accounting firm with an app?
Alesha Masaud (10:48):
That’s actually a really good question and maybe I’ll take that one. Since we’ve got two different modes of communication with our clients, primarily we’ve got two different types of target markets. If we look at the app, the app is a growing Petri dish pretty much for micro businesses. We are providing free accounting services for bookkeeping, profit and loss and all these kind of extras to help support Australian businesses grow, develop and thrive. That’s primarily for micro businesses and simple individuals. For example, so that individuals can upload their receipts as they’re going [inaudible 00:11:33] rather than having a shoebox that they take to their accountants.
It’s quite funny because I was talking to a few of my friends and they’re like, “Oh, it’s deductions time, but I don’t even know what deductions I should be claiming because I haven’t kept a record of them.” Exactly. As you are spending in office works and things like that, you can literally just upload your receipts and off you go, you don’t have to worry about it going forward. App has that kind of a target market.
Host – Kylie Sultana (12:06):
I love that because … I mean, coming from a non-technical …. I guess because of my age, you come from a non-technical where everything was paper-based. I mean, I started my career in stockbroking and it was like physical certificates and script we had to write up in a big ledger. Going to technology, it’s a little hard to grasp, but I love now yes, that I can just snap receipts on my phone or just send an email of an invoice and it goes straight in and it matches off and does everything. I love technology and I love researching technology, so when you were talking about that, Fahad, saying that you will research the industry of your clients to see if there’s something, I love researching apps and doing all that sort of thing. That’s what excites me a little bit. Considering we’re a money business as well, it’s technology I love.
How do you actually aim to help … Sorry. Alesha?
Alesha Masaud (13:01):
I was just going to touch on the second target market.
Host – Kylie Sultana (13:03):
Oh, sorry. Sure.
Alesha Masaud (13:05):
I talked about the app and that’s supposed to help individuals and micro businesses and then the accounting firm that because of the face-to-face and more high touch approach, that’s where we service mostly high net worth individuals and businesses and business owners primarily. We’ve got two different types of target markets. Almost you can think of it as a cycle. We help people develop and grow their businesses from the app and then transition them over to the accounting firm, more high type approach. But that’s not to say that people don’t directly come to the accounting firm. We’ve got a model for both type of targets.
Host – Kylie Sultana (13:49):
I love that. When did you actually start the business? When was it born? When was the Tax App baby born?
Alesha Masaud (13:57):
I reckon August.
Fahad Gul (14:04):
The Tax App is just probably, I would say, six to eight months old. The idea was there. Before that, I was working full-time and running a part-time accounting firm, and then we thought that it should be a full-time thing. Then the idea of app came along and it took several months to develop the app and also the app is constantly being developed. It’s not that this is it, there’s more features coming in. Probably six months we have started the idea of Tax App and working alongside it.
Host – Kylie Sultana (14:48):
It’s a newborn business.
Fahad Gul (14:49):
Host – Kylie Sultana (14:50):
It’s a baby, it’s in its infancy. Where do you see technology in accounting evolving? Where do you see that going?
Fahad Gul (15:00):
Oh, Alesha, you start on this and then I’ll …
Alesha Masaud (15:06):
Yeah, for sure. I’ll kick us off. We think that generative AI is going to change the way accounting is done and we can see how generative AI has changed the world of copywriting quite recently. We want to be in step with technology and we want to take technology in our stride and as a technology accounting firm, we want to evolve how it is evolving. When it is safe to do so, when the processes are more safer and your information is not going to be given to any Joe Bloggs on the street, that’s when we’ll start looking into evolving the technology and including AI. But at this point in time, we do feel like we are one of the first accounting firms who is in step with technology, but I think long way to go for technology and we’ll start working with it,
Fahad Gul (16:08):
Adding to that, Kylie, I think like every not just accounting firms, but every business should adopt technology and that’s why Tax App is born. If, for example, your business is still working on those manual processes and hasn’t adopted automation yet, and after automation, the next step is AI. If you think those people who are working with automation are looking into AI right now, but if your business is still in those manual work, your competitors are ahead of you in terms of automation. Once they go to AI, you won’t be able to compete. It’s not just for an accounting business. Every business who is working in those paper-based and highly manual processes should at least look into automation.
Then the next step is AI and what we have seen in technology since, I’ve just said that we have started operating six months ago, but we have seen technology evolve in that short period quite a lot. It’s a minute by minute process. Everyone has to be, especially people in e-commerce and selling online, have to be in this space and have to research what Kylie and myself and Alesha love doing, the latest technology that is out there.
Host – Kylie Sultana (17:41):
There’s a website that I go to, it’s called AppSumo. It has all releases on there. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of it, but there’s all different apps that people sell for discounted prices when they’re launching on there. I love going on there and having a look and thinking, “Oh, do we really need this?” I do love that you’re technology driven. In our business in Creo, we have an older based client, an older client base. Technology for them is a little bit difficult, which is proving interesting at the moment, given all of the spam and cybersecurity issues that are going on. A lot of our clients still like paper, they still like us to actually physically post something. Whenever they ask that, it’s like, “Oh, this is quite bizarre. I’m actually having to go to the post office and actually post an envelope with a stamp.”
I think the stamps are a dollar 20 now, so I was like, “Wow, last time I posted something it was like 55 cents or something.” It’s like the cost of that has just gone up. Thank you for explaining about the business. I wanted to touch a little bit on your relationship and how working together, if that’s affected that and how you go about planning. Did you guys sit down and have a business plan with the business? Were you both involved in that?
Alesha Masaud (19:00):
Yeah. We do have some set times in which we talk about the business and I think that’s really helped us and I think it’s also quite helpful because we’re partners for everything almost. It feels quite natural to have those conversations with each other. In terms of our business plan, we sat down … when we first launched full-time, we sat down and had our goals, our marketing plan, we organised all of that. We actually really love working together.
Host – Kylie Sultana (19:45):
Fahad Gul (19:48):
Also, Kylie, if for example I started just by myself, the support that Alesha gave me is … she’s another type of brain and I’m another type of brain and that’s why opposite attract. Creativity is one thing, but I like to go in there and code and do those transactions and accounting and all those kinds of things. But Alesha is more like a marketing guru and in terms of all the other things that the business requires and having us together is a very powerful force and that’s why Tax App is growing and yet having those different two models which came through the business plan and business plan is updated. Every dinner there’s something to update to the business plan because we are always talking about it, we are always thinking about it kind of thing.
Host – Kylie Sultana (20:53):
That was my next question. Do you find that it kind of crosses over a little bit? Because I’ve been married to my husband for 25 years, we’ve been in business around eight years together and you’re constantly finding that things are crossing over. You’ll be having dinner or you’ll be out on a date night or something and it’s like, “Oh, this happened and this happened.” It’s like when our children were little, we always talked about the children when we went on a date night, but now it’s kind of like our business baby that we talk about on date night. Do you find that as well that it crosses over?
Alesha Masaud (21:25):
Yeah, most definitely.
Fahad Gul (21:28):
Host – Kylie Sultana (21:31):
Fahad Gul (21:34):
It’s always … because we are partners, for example, if you’re thinking of, “Oh this house looks really nice, maybe we should go in and check it out”, and then everything is related to the business and our personal lives and everything is so interconnected that anytime we are … for example, travel, if we are booking a travel, we are thinking about the business and we are thinking about how … so it always comes up, it’s always there and even at family dinners, it’s always being mentioned. It’s always going to be our first baby, I think.
Host – Kylie Sultana (22:15):
Well, we call it our baby, it’s our business baby and it’s the baby that we are working for it to be our retirement plan. Is that where you see Tax App going? Is that you’re kind of thinking that that’s your retirement plan? Are you’re looking to grow the business further across Australia?
Fahad Gul (22:33):
Yes, definitely, and this is why we set up the business. It’s serving Australian people, but also it would be something that we will do it for until we retire and we want to grow it with smooth, steadily in a nice … rather than growing it too quickly, higher you go, higher you fall, we want to grow it in a quality manner. That’s our plan and soon Alesha would come into the business full-time as well and hopefully we will hire our first employees as well and that’s how we’re thinking of growing it. We are quite very young organisation right now, very new to the business, which also attracts a lot of new businesses coming our way as well.
Host – Kylie Sultana (23:37):
Yes, yes. I remember when we hired our first employee, it’s a very exciting time and it wasn’t until probably three or four years ago, it was actually during COVID, I think, that we hired our first employee. For me, I think we should have done it much earlier, but for Anthony, he’s a little bit more conservative than me, and all he saw was cashflow. He said cashflow and it’s like, well, that employee is going to help us with cashflow because they’re going to take tasks off us that we can use to grow … then we’ll have the time to grow the business. I really look forward to hearing about when you employ your first team member. It is a very exciting time. Sorry. In terms of that, going back to the personal, do you guys sit down and have a personal budget? Do you plan all of that sort of stuff?
Alesha Masaud (24:28):
Host – Kylie Sultana (24:28):
You’re both involved, yes?
Alesha Masaud (24:31):
I’ll take this and this will help you understand a little bit about us as well. I’m more of a strategic thinker, I’m a powerhouse, whereas Fahad is quite calculated. When we first were moving in together, Fahad brought out this really complex budget tracker and whereas before when I was living by myself, I had a rough idea of how much I wanted to spend and that kind of a scenario, and I would use my credit card a lot. Whereas now I’ve come from that to automated payments. Everything in my life has now automated in terms of transactions. Money comes in, I don’t even have to think about it will just allocate automatically into each account. We’ve got a very regimented budget now.
Host – Kylie Sultana (25:27):
I love automation, though, because it’s like remember … I’m not sure if you remember, but maybe your parents back in the day, if you got paid with cash, you’d put money in envelopes and one envelope would be for savings to take to the bank, one envelope would be for this bill or that bill that’s coming up and you’d have to actually go and physically pay for it. The automation, you can literally set that up like different envelopes. It’s technology again in use.
Alesha Masaud (25:56):
Exactly. I’ve actually I think seen the envelope become more of a trend lately on TikTok. People are taking the cash out and putting it envelopes these days.
Host – Kylie Sultana (26:08):
I think it’s probably a novelty for the younger ones that haven’t actually seen cash before. Maybe it’s because everything’s been on a card. It’s like, “Oh, this is novel.” Well my husband’s parents are Maltese and she would have all of her money under the mattress if you would let her have it. That’s safe there, that’s their thinking. Do you ever come across anybody that is very conservative and doesn’t want to do anything with their money, they just want to keep saving? In the business, have you had business owners that are very conservative and don’t want to grow, they don’t want to take that [inaudible 00:26:50]?
Fahad Gul (26:54):
Yeah, they are. What I’ve seen is a lot of people do not like to keep the money inside the company. They want to withdraw and there’s some business owners that do not believe in superannuation, so they want to keep under the mattress if you would like to call it. They don’t want to leave it in the company, they want to keep it personally. With that, there are tax consequences if you’re a very high personal bracket. So explaining to them, and some people learn and think, “Oh, this is tax savings”, but some people say, “I don’t care about the consequences. I want all my money sitting with me. Not in my company, not in my super.” There are some business owners that like that, but very small. Very small percentage, very small percentage.
Host – Kylie Sultana (27:46):
Which is good because we get a lot of people as well. Obviously we’re a financial planning company, but a lot of people seem to think that super … I’m not sure what they think of it, but a lot of people don’t like that they have to put money into super. But I think that they don’t understand that superannuation is actually a tax structure and there are tax benefits of using your superannuation to grow your wealth. It doesn’t matter how old you are, even though if you’re young, you might not think that it’s worth putting money into your superannuation, but if you don’t need access to that money, it’s a good tax structure. Say if you wanted to salary sacrifice, for instance, to reduce your taxable income, there’s some different strategies you can use. We’re all about trying to educate people about their superannuation.
If you don’t want to put money into super, think of something. What’s your plan? What’s your end plan? You can’t keep working for the rest of your life. I mean, if you do, we need to talk, but there’s a whole big wide world to see. There’s things you want to do. You might have grandchildren, you might want to spend time with family or loved ones. You don’t want to work forever. So what’s the plan? How are you going to live when you’re not working anymore? It’s really hard to get that through to some people. They’re just living in the here and now they’re not thinking of the future. What do you guys do? You guys plan for the future? Do you have an end plan?
Fahad Gul (29:15):
Yeah. In terms of us personally, we do think about it quite often. What kind of house do we want to live in and how are we going to finance it and how are we going to grow the business? Currently, because the business is so young, it’s all jumbled across everything right now, so we are trying to open up the knots and trying to make it much a straight kind of picture. We do think about it a lot. In terms of our clients, you know Kylie, there’s a thin line between financial planning and accounting.
Host – Kylie Sultana (29:57):
Fahad Gul (29:57):
So when we are talking about super, we can only talk about saving tax. We do have to accept what clients want to do it and educate them rather than advise them.
Host – Kylie Sultana (30:15):
Alesha Masaud (30:15):
I may also add that I was actually doing a bunch of research about how women end up having less super than men only because of the fact that’ll end up taking time off from the workplace or work part-time or a period of time. Exactly. The discrepancy is quite a bit. The other day Fahad and I looked at our super account and we’re checking it against the average and we were like, “Oh, okay, look, this is where we are at. Perhaps we need to start salary sacrificing a bit more so that we can attain the kind of lifestyle that we would like to have towards the end”, and it makes a huge difference. The more money you put on earlier on, the better it is towards the longer run. We definitely think about it quite a bit.
Host – Kylie Sultana (31:16):
It’s good and I like that you’re talking about maybe putting more in now because if you do want to have children, you need to plan for that because you could potentially take however long it is you want to have off work. I mean, I do know that my super is less than Anthony’s because yes, I did work part-time, but luckily I’ve got a supportive husband and it’s not that way for a lot of women. A lot of women … I think actually the figures are that there’s more women I think around the age of 50, 55 that leave marriages and they have nothing and they become homeless. I mean, that’s an astounding figure because women, we tend to just say, “Oh, just leave it alone. I’ll just walk away so I don’t have the problems anymore.” It’s quite alarming so I love that you are thinking about that. If you can plan ahead for any of that sort of things coming up in the future, that is excellent.
It’s obviously what we try and educate our clients on. Fahad, you were talking about fine line between accounting and financial planning and so we have the opposite way around. We can’t tell people tax, we can tell factual information, we can give them the facts like what the tax rates are, things like that, but when it comes to deductions and all that sort of fancy stuff, it’s like, “Yeah, go and see a good accountant because we can’t tell you any of that sort of thing.” There’s also things for the self-managed super funds that you guys need to do that we can’t do as well, so that’s why. I think that’s how we actually met you guys. Alesha, it was in some Facebook group or something, I think. Somebody mentioned … or it was you that mentioned you wanted to connect with some … Social media technology again, there you go, making great relationships as well.
Alesha Masaud (32:59):
Exactly right and I think we met a bunch of people through that, whereas I think we’ve really connected with Creo and you guys, Creo Wealth as a brand name and you guys specifically. Thank you so much for taking up on the offer and connecting.
Host – Kylie Sultana (33:15):
Thank you and thank you for coming onto the podcast today. It’s been insightful. We’ll have to get you on again and we might get Sigo next time and you and Fahad, Sigo and Fahad can have a nice little chinwag about self-managed super funds. I’m not an advisor, I was years ago, but definitely not my expertise. I like talking to people about money, but when it comes to doing all the strategies and I pass that over to the guys, that’s their thing. I’m kind of like you Alesha, I’m more the creative. I do all the marketing and all this fun stuff, getting to talk to everybody about money. That’s what I do.
Alesha Masaud (33:49):
Sounds fantastic. Sounds like my cup of tea.
Host – Kylie Sultana (33:52):
Thank you again for joining me. I’m going to have your links and everything in there if people want to contact you guys, and thanks so much for being amazing guests and I’ll talk to you guys again next time.
Fahad Gul (34:02):
Thank you, Kylie, for having us.
Alesha Masaud (34:05):
Thank you so much for having us. Such a fantastic experience and also, you’re such a great speaker. I really enjoyed talking with you.
Host – Kylie Sultana (34:12):
Oh, thank you so much. That’s really sweet.