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Financial Storytellers – ThriveCFO [Syft Analytics Case Study]

Syft Analytics_ThriveCFO

Being an entrepreneur can be frantic. Even if your business is growing organically, your time is minimal. You focus on doing the monthly accounting, servicing clients, and managing staff. There’s very little time left for anything else, but this life can be very rewarding.

Don’t take my word for it though. I have a backup!

I recently spoke to Luan van Rhyn, founder of Thrive CFO, a cloud-based, fully nomadic firm offering monthly accounting, virtual CFO, and secretarial services. Thrive CFO was started 13 years ago and has been fully digital and cloud-based for the past 6 years. They still have an office that serves as HQ, but their business is now international.

Thrive CFO’s main focus isn’t on accounting, tax, payroll, or consulting, although they do offer all these services. Rather, their focus is on freedom. Freedom of time, money, and location.


Changes to the Services Thrive CFO Offers

Originally, Thrive CFO was called “Calypso Accounting”. Over time, there have been several changes to the services that they offer, so a name change was needed. However, Luan explained that the practice has long been in a transitional phase in which monthly accounting services served as the foundation, not the main event.

Their main service offering is financial management. Luan is primarily a financial management counselor. And in this kind of role, it’s crucial to see every client every month to maintain a relationship and provide value.

monthly accounting

As a virtual CFO, Luan talks around concepts you would usually find in a corporate environment, such as key business metrics. However, he doesn’t work in a corporate environment but with small business owners. The team at Thrive CFO demystifies these dashboard metrics for clients who would typically be unfamiliar with them, helping them to make better decisions with their financial data.


Going Global

Serving a global community necessitates working at strange hours to accommodate different time zones. It’s no longer a matter of working an 8 to 5. Working internationally means cutting into family time and your typical off-time.

To deal with this new challenge, it’s critical to find someone who can fit those client commitments into their schedule. Luan has just such a person in his staff – the resident night-owl.

As Luan says, “We don’t care when you do the work”. It’s all about committing to your clients and making sure that your work gets done when it’s supposed to be done.

Working internationally has been an eye-opener for the team at Thrive CFO. Luan was quick to say that although it’s difficult to be “always-on”, he doesn’t mean to complain. He’s very grateful for the opportunity to work in such diverse regions.


The Simplicity of Syft Reports

When Luan came across Syft Analytics for the first time, he had been working with another reporting app, but he’d noticed something frustrating about the reports they provided. When he started doing his customer reviews, clients told him that the reports he gave them were gorgeous, but they didn’t understand them. They said things like:

“All the pretty graphs and nice analysis doesn’t mean anything to us as a business. We can’t make informed decisions because we don’t understand the data.” Luan van Rhyn, founder of Thrive CFO

Luan did what most people of today would do: he turned to Google. And the Google machine brought up another name – Syft Analytics. There was a massive appeal for Luan in the simplicity of the software offered by Syft. So, he decided to give us a call.


Getting in Touch with Syft

Luan’s first phone call was “a deal clincher” because the person who answered the phone was Vangelis Kyriazis, one of Syft’s co-founders. Vangelis apologised for answering the phone himself, explaining that the sales staff were all busy, but he asked if he could be of any help to Luan. “That says a lot about the organization,” Luan said. The fact that one of the founders would take the time to help him personally meant a great deal.

Over the years, Luan has seen the transformation and growth of Syft’s product, and he understood the road map. What Luan loves about Syft is that:

“It’s an easy-to-understand tool that doesn’t overwhelm you with bells and whistles. It brings across what it needs to bring across. And it puts us in a position where we can also leverage our knowledge and not let the report do all the talking.” Luan van Rhyn, founder of Thrive CFO

One of the most important things that Luan has learnt over the years is that interpretation is key.

monthly accounting


Financial Storytellers

If you ask Luan what he really does, he won’t say accounting or virtual CFO work. He says that he tells stories – important, helpful stories, the stories that really matter to his clients.


“That’s one of the big roles we play in the industry [interpreting data]. We’re not accountants, we’re not virtual CFOs, we’re actually storytellers. The software that you choose to actually tell your story has become as critical to us as a Mont Blanc or MacBook is to a writer. It’s the tool of choice because that’s where a lot of the expression happens.” Luan van Rhyn, founder of Thrive CFO

No matter how many science fiction movies have suggested that computers pose a threat to humanity, software can never replace the human touch. Technology’s true value lies in adding value – in complementing uniquely human skills.

This is why Syft can best be likened to a storyteller’s pen. Syft is the Financial Storyteller’s tool of choice, an essential weapon to add to your professional arsenal.


A Pivotal Business Moment

Making the transition to Syft “was one of those pivotal moments in the business” for Luan. But before we get to that, we need to back-track a bit…

Luan started Calypso Accounting back in 2007. It grew a lot and, before he knew it, Luan had this “behemoth of an office”, which was like a “hungry baby” with an insatiable appetite. This was never what Luan had intended to happen. So he closed down everything and started over.

Part of the challenge that Luan faced when starting over was getting back on top of cash flow and a business model that allowed for scalability without drastically increasing fixed costs. Syft allowed him significant scalability without compromising the quality of the data.

Moving to Syft was a “no-brainer” for Thrive CFO. As Luan says:

“Sending those first 10 sets of management accounts in that first month, we said, ‘This is what we’re thinking of rolling out. Do you understand these? Do they speak to you? Are they easy to understand?’ And the client feedback was phenomenal. Everybody said immediately, without even one of our consultants talking them through it, that they were actually able to understand the numbers themselves… You roll them out, you have the conversation, and Bob’s your uncle. It’s really as easy as that.” Luan van Rhyn, founder of Thrive CFO

Today, Thrive CFO uses Syft’s management accounts, such as the detailed business overview and customer report, which was specially customized for them by their Account Manager, Nerine. They find the graphs under Visualize to be very insightful and have now embedded these into their reports.

Thrive CFO also uses forecasts for scenario planning, helping businesses who are branching out, and acquisitions. When it comes to planning and forecasting cash flow, they also find Syft to be very useful.

Luan says that the predetermined reports make life a lot easier and that it’s more efficient to push out data using Syft.


Why Hire a Virtual Financial Storyteller?

Irrespective of what country you find yourself in, a Financial Storyteller, or, if we’re using the usual lingo, a virtual CFO, is the missing link that many small businesses are after, especially after battling with the repercussions of the pandemic.

Two years ago, a lot of international businesses found the idea of working with a remote CFO to be strange, but thanks to all that we’ve learnt during the time of COVID-19 and widespread Zoom calls, people are beginning to realise that it doesn’t matter where your advisor lives; it’s about the value that they provide you.

Using virtual CFO services that operate in South Africa, like Thrive CFO, saves international businesses a lot of money as labor there is much less expensive than what you would find in a lot of other countries.

Luan’s mantra to businesses is: “you need to see us [your virtual CFO] as an extension of your business, as part of the team”. A virtual CFO from Thrive CFO has two or three recurring meetings every single week with their clients. And it’s no longer just the business owner who gets involved with financials; it’s the whole team. When all is said and done, it doesn’t help to isolate the different departments of your organization from each other.


Moving Forward

Financial Storytellers help clients to better understand how their business model feeds into various key performance indicators (KPIs). After all, what does a KPI mean if it’s not being measured? What does a KPI mean if it’s not understood, or if clients don’t understand why it’s even there?

In the olden days, working with businesses was a lot easier. Now, these stories that you’re so invested in are complex and time-intensive. Part of the journey is discovering and understanding your clients’ business model, extrapolating the data to formalize KPIs. Then you can begin reporting, tracking, and realigning KPIs, conducting quarterly reviews, and analyzing the data.

Using Syft speeds up the process, meaning that Luan and his team can spend their time on the valuable interpretation of reports – the vital storytelling that their clients benefit from the most. And we can’t wait to see how Thrive CFO will continue to grow and evolve in the future.

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What our clients say?
Thrive CFO
Based on 10 reviews
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Martin Mulder
Martin Mulder
12:36 17 Aug 23
I have only the greatest appreciation for this company. I was going through a difficult time and they were understanding and accommodating. My tax was handled speedily and efficiently.
Kevin Rademeyer
Kevin Rademeyer
07:20 17 Aug 23
We have been using Melissa, Marche and the rest of the crew at ThriveCFO for over 10 years, in order to compile our annual audit for Law Society. They have been exceptional, efficient and pro-active every year. I would not take the business anywhere else.
Jan de Wit
Jan de Wit
13:13 13 Jun 23
Our firm has been making use of the services of Thrive CFO for more than 10 years. Thrive CFO has amazing staff that is not only extremely helpful, but also very capable. We are extremely happy with their services and will continue to support them. They make accounting easy. Thanks Melissa, Marche and the rest of the Team - You Rock!!
LM Keyser
LM Keyser
07:13 13 Jun 23
The ThriveCFO team has been our trusted accounting and tax partner since 2010. They are competent, honest, approachable, quick to respond, and they really do care. I highly recommend them.
Andre Claassen
Andre Claassen
10:24 08 Jun 23
Prompt, professional and personal service!!
Palabadi Ramaphoko
Palabadi Ramaphoko
19:38 15 May 23
I'm impressed with the work you do. You are extremely professional and polite. I hope we will grow big together!
Deidre Oosthuysen
Deidre Oosthuysen
12:20 04 May 23
I feel as though Thrive CFO is a natural part of our business. 100% professional. Very knowledgeable. Incredibly organised. And with a work ethic and proactive communication practices, I know I am in the very best hands possible.
Sean Fabian
Sean Fabian
07:45 04 May 23
As someone who has had the pleasure of working with Thrive CFO, I can confidently say that they are an exceptional company with an unwavering dedication to their clients. From beginning to end, their commitment to providing top-tier financial services is evident in every interaction.One of the things that sets Thrive CFO apart is their focus on education. They take the time to educate their clients on financial best practices and help them understand the reasoning behind their recommendations. This approach ensures that clients are empowered to make informed decisions about their finances.Thrive CFO also uses the latest technology to streamline their services and make the financial management process as efficient as possible. They utilize cloud-based software to provide real-time financial data and make it easy for clients to access their financial information at any time.Overall, Thrive CFO is an exceptional company that is dedicated to providing personalised financial solutions that help their clients succeed. If you're looking for a financial firm that truly cares about your success, I highly recommend Thrive CFO.
Michael Dawson
Michael Dawson
15:48 02 May 23
Great experience with the team! Always willing to assist with questions and able to help guide my small business to ensure that I am compliant.
Riaan Schlebusch ITMC
Riaan Schlebusch ITMC
12:15 21 Apr 23
Professional, smart and friendly people.You only deal with the best of the best, and they know how to answer your questions, and they ensure that they understand you, and make they make sure to take the time to know your business.
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