Award-winning fintech entrepreneur, Amreeta Abbott, built NowInfinity from humble beginnings in the SMSF space into one of the most loved and widely used products in the accounting industry. Amreeta and her team grew NowInfinity into an industry-leading platform that delivered a cloud-based Documentation Suite, Corporate Messenger, Trust Register, and Super Comply products to more than 4,000 accounting firms with approximately 750,000 entities. In 2020, it sold to an ASX-listed company for $25 million.
But the path to get there was not always smooth sailing. The challenges and complexities Amreeta navigated are many of those any entrepreneur needs to tackle, from forming effective long-term business relationships, creating opportunities within your client base (instead of just waiting and hoping) and forging your own map to success.
As a former accountant herself and a much-anticipated keynote speaker at our upcoming Private Business Tax Retreat, Amreeta chatted with us about the benefits her new venture, Annature, holds for tax practitioners and the entrepreneurial spirit, career lessons and professional experiences that got her to where she is today.
The Tax Institute: Amreeta, we’re so excited to hear from you at the upcoming Private Business Retreat. Your session is forward-looking, inspiring, relevant - a great way to kick off the event. Which aspect of the topic would you say is the most exciting, for you and for practitioners?
Amreeta: Every tax practitioner can now benefit from the availability of digital document management, including eSignatures, ID verification, Know Your Customer and Anti Money Laundering capabilities within a cloud-based platform.
In this country we have around 77,000 registered practitioners, professional associations as well as the government regulators and the ATO which all benefit from this innovation. Digital signatures are cost-effective, reliable, save clients many hours and sometimes days of physical trekking to offices to sign documents; frees up time and saves on staff and storage costs for tax practitioners. A customer can sign online, and store copies on their own computer without ever having to print anything. And more importantly, this ease of use is something everyday Australians expect in a post pandemic world.
In essence, it gives tax practitioners time back in their professional lives, to use for client development, to expand their business by having the time and capacity to discuss and then implement tax-effective solutions for the client and their business.
What excites me is that we are now developing and refining the capacity of what we do, almost on a daily basis. For instance, Annature is easily scaled to any enterprise. I know that sounds like a shameless plug, but it is an answer to the question. We customise it to every company and it integrates easily. It is the first ANZ ISO 27001 certified technology that builds digital signatures, identity verification and payment collection software for industries big and small. Allowing small businesses and enterprises to sign documents with eSignatures at an affordable price.
So, you’ve come from roots in traditional accounting, to now heading up a leading fintech. How did that happen?
I am at heart, and always will be, in accounting. That is how my career developed and it was through my constant interaction with clients and in dealings with the ATO and ASIC that I developed the concept of removing friction points for customers and made that into a company that provided that service.
I'd encountered it myself from the moment I'd bought my first house. All the documents a buyer has to not just sign but collate, prove in an evidentiary form, from the realtor, the mortgage provider, the law firm. Involving trips, multiple often, to the offices of those firms, appointments where through no fault of their own the principals were running late and the interminable waiting. Lives were passing while documents waited for signature and then costly onpass to the next person in the list.
I think my awareness of that became a frustration with that, and an overwhelming desire to fix it. So, I did, as best I could. We now do in minutes what once took days. As I said, the future is already here and even now we're thinking of ways to even improve on that.
In your session, you’ll walk us through the journey from conceptualising to building and selling NowInfinity. If attendees at the event take one thing away from your story, what would you like it to be?
We used to think about the future as a date, never defined, somewhere way down the track - where things would be better.
If you're a tax practitioner the future is already here. Things are actually better and in the strangest possible way the pandemic pushed change along. More and more accountants and tax specialists already know that. And there is already a groundswell of opinion and demand for the use of digital signatures and ID verification to be widely available.
Customers who were once thought to be resistant to digital documentation weren't. And they've proved it over the past eighteen months in their capacity to engage electronically.
Guided by this industry. Which demonstrates something I've always suspected but was always afraid to admit because I might be accused (because of my background as an accountant) as biased. Which is: tax practitioners - from Harold Irving - the founder of The Tax Institute - onwards have always been more forward thinking and ahead of the curve in rational thought than just about any other profession.
Amreeta, thank you for chatting with us. We’re really looking forward to hearing from you at the Private Business Tax Retreat and hope you’re looking forward to the event too.
There is something remarkably comforting about an organisation like The Tax Institute. 11,000 members. An entire organisation dedicated to values, to professional friendship, to improving the tax laws that affect every single working person in the country, to openness.
Our tax system has changed enormously since Harold Irving, then a Sydney accountant, even in the middle of the Second World War, thought there had to be a better way - and set about changing it. That is something, and although we overuse the word all the time, which is something I find heroic. Pioneering.
And the Tax Institute has since then kept his ideals and those of the people who helped found the Tax Institute as its moral compass. Helping over decades shape the changes in taxation thinking, helping to protect its members and helping the tax-paying community at large in ways that are often not seen or even publicly acknowledged.
As I said before, I'm an accountant at heart so I never feel among strangers at this event. The sense of community here is overwhelming. There is also a genuine predisposition to sharing, of knowledge, advice and experience. I don't know if there is another professional body that can lay claim to something like that. It isn't manufactured. It comes from accountants and tax specialists themselves.
And there is a wicked sense of humour. I love that. I reckon that comes from the everyday experience of accountants - in firms large and small. You encounter human existence up close and personal, at its best and worst. And you learn that a little humour leavens the outcome, both ways.
Catch Amreeta’s story on Day 1 of the Private Business Tax Retreat this 24-25 February 2022 online and at Palazzo Versace, Gold Coast. Find out more, register or download the full event brochure to get started.
Amreeta Abbott is CEO and founder of Annature, the leading Australian-owned electronic signature, ID verification and payment solution purpose built for all industries. Annature helps business owners’ lower costs, improve engagement and elevate customer satisfaction and is the first ISO 27001 certified electronic signature solution. Before taking the eSignature industry by storm, she was the founder and creator of NowInfinity which sold to Class (ASX: CL1) in 2020 for $25 million. Amreeta is a pioneer of the accounting industry, she’s passionate about solving core problems that impact the profession and in-turn their clients.