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Learn how to use Float

Start your journey by learning how to use Float. The first thing you need to do when you join our partner program is to set up your free Float licence for your own firm. Adding your firm will let you manage your own cash flow and it will help you to learn Float using numbers you recognise.

If you don’t have access to your firm’s own books or you’d prefer not to connect them to Float, then you can connect the Xero Demo Company instead. Here’s how to connect the Xero Demo Company to Float.

To do that, just log into Float and click on this button:

Float partner licence

We’ve created a guide below covering all the key areas that you and your team need to get up and running with Float.

Quick guide

Just click the links below to be taken to the section you’re looking for!

Step 1: Understand your present cash

Step 2: Understand your future cash

Step 3: How to review and build upon the forecast 

Step 1: Understand your present cash


Reconciliation / matching

It’s really important for any company connected to Float to have its accounts reconciled/matched frequently. Here’s why:

This number on the ‘Cash Flow’ tab is going to match the sum of the current reconciled balances in your accounting software for all bank accounts included in your forecast. 

Total reconciled balance or Total matched balance

This won’t always match the bank balance if there are transactions left to reconcile or match. 

This number is your starting point for Float to work out the past, present and future cash. For the past, we take this number and subtract any paid cash out and add any paid cash in to show you the balance in the past.

For the future, Float takes this number and adds and subtracts upcoming invoices and bills, and budgets entered into Float, based on their payable dates.

So in order for this starting point to be correct, your reconciliation or matching needs to be done as frequently as possible. We recommend at least weekly, but clients with monthly reconciliation/matching will still be able to use Float, if not quite as well as those with more up-to-date accounts.

Set up your bank accounts & credit cards

This section, on both the Overview and Cash Flow tabs, helps you manage your included bank accounts and credit cards. Your forecast will be a combination of all bank accounts and credit cards you choose to include.

Float bank accounts

We suggest these criteria to decide which bank accounts to include:

  • If you’d like to see all the transactions paid for with a credit card then you can include that credit card, but if you just want to see the true movement of cash then you can exclude that credit card. Credit cards with a negative balance will subtract that amount from your total balance, when you might not actually pay it for at least a month
  • Include any accounts that are trading, and exclude any that are unused
  • Include bank accounts that have cash that you can control
  • Think about excluding any bank accounts where someone else can withdraw funds without your knowledge
  • Include bank accounts that have cash readily available to the business. For instance, cash held in Stripe or Amazon accounts is not immediately available to you and can artificially inflate the cash
  • Think about whether you want to exclude bank accounts that are designed for specific purposes, for instance, savings that you’re setting aside for a rainy day.

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Step 2: Understand your future cash

The next step to setting up your free Float licence for your firm is to update your invoices & bills, and your cash budgets. 

Update your invoices & bills

 

Go to your Invoices Due tab for cash your firm is owed. Here you’ll see all invoices due to your firm that haven’t been reconciled or matched as paid. 

Float invoices due

Include only invoices that will be paid

Go through all of these invoices and exclude any that you’re not certain will be paid using this toggle:

Include invoices and bills

Update expected payment dates

The next thing you need to do is input the date when you expect these invoices to be paid. This is important because in Float, we build our forecast based on expected payment dates, not invoice issue dates, this will ensure your forecast is accurate.

Float imports all invoices and bills from your or your clients’ accounting software automatically every 24 hours. If you’d like to manually run a sync any time, you can just click this button: 

Float sync

By default, we take the due date on an invoice or bill as the expected payment date. If your client is a Xero user and they set expected payment dates in Xero, then we take this instead. If you know a client typically pays 30 or 90 days late, you can update all their open invoices at once.

Do this for every invoice so that your forecast is as accurate as possible. You can either update invoice expected payment dates one by one like this:

Change expected dates

Or search for one client and update all of their invoices at the same time, either by a number of days or to a specific date.

Change expected dates in bulk

If you have a lot of invoices in your accounting software then you can filter them by upcoming, draft, repeating, overdue or past expected payment date to help speed up this process.

Filter invoices

When you change a bill or invoice, you’ll see it move on the graph above.

If you or any of your clients are affected by Coronavirus, you’ll need to closely manage invoices owed. Be sure to only include those that will definitely be paid.

Don’t worry, nothing you update in Float will change the information in your accounting software. We never push any data back, as it’s a one-way import of information.

 

Can you split invoices & bills?

You certainly can. If you expect payment in multiple parts, simply click into that invoice and click ‘add a payment’. You can split invoices by value or percentage, and change the date on individual instalments. 

Split invoices

Do the same for bills that you owe

Go to Bills to Pay and update bills that your firm owes using the same steps. Obviously, it will be easier to predict when you will pay outstanding bills. Simply go through them and update expected payment dates to when your firm will pay these open bills.

Create your forecast with cash budgets

The next most important thing to do is to set up cash budgets in your Cash Flow tab. This will create your forecast and fill up with invoices and bills to give you a clear understanding of your future cash.

Cash budgets are different from P&L budgets. When you create a cash budget, you need to set the payment date for when you expect to spend or receive that cash, and cash budgets are inclusive of tax.

Does Float forecast for me?

Float doesn’t create your budgets for you because you know your firm far better than we do, so your forecasts will be far more accurate than Float deciding for you. However, we do provide budget suggestions at the account level which you’re welcome to use:

Float budget suggestions

Does Float import my P&L budget?

We don’t import P&L budgets because P&L is very different from cash, which is what Float shows. If you sent an invoice for £10K this month, in a P&L world, it would show you as ‘having’ that money right now, when you may not actually get paid for a few months. In Float, we want to know when that cash will actually enter and leave your bank account. For that reason, importing a P&L budget wouldn’t be helpful. P&L budgets are also net of tax, while Float includes tax as we’re showing total cash entering and leaving your business.

However, you can export your P&L budget from your accounting software, tweak it to make it cash-based, and you can copy and paste it in using Float’s Spreadsheet Input feature.

What are budgets in Float?

Float budgets are predictions of cash movements. They need to be set up for the date when you think the cash will be paid. 

Budgets act like empty placeholders that fill up throughout the month with invoices, bills and actuals. So if you budget £10K for sales, and you receive £4000, the total budget remains at £10,000 with £6,000 remaining. It wouldn’t double count and go to £14,000.

How to set up your first budgets

 

The first thing to do is set up your realistic cash budgets in your ‘Base’ scenario. You can do this by clicking into the cell in the month that you want and clicking ‘Create budget’. 

You can create as many budgets per month and account as you like. The more you add, the more detailed and accurate your forecast will be. Ensure that you’re budgeting for all cash that you 100% expect to spend and receive. For any discretionary spend that your firm may be cutting, do not budget for that. For any clients you may lose, do not budget for them. You can build a scenario later on with that cash included if you like.

Your budgets can be one-off, or they can repeat weekly, every 2 weeks, monthly, quarterly or annually. You can choose the start and end dates, and you can use Float’s budget suggestions to help you get a base-line.

Set the date for when you expect cash to move. This will make your forecast as accurate as possible.

We suggest starting with the big-ticket areas where a lot of cash moves, such as:

  • Sales
  • Wages
  • Rent 
  • VAT or other taxes

You can then refine the forecast across all other accounts.

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Step 3: How to review and build upon the forecast 

Once your Base forecast is set up, you’re ready to scenario plan and analyse budgets vs actuals.

Review the Daily Breakdown tab

 

Before you move on to scenario planning, just check that you’re happy with your base forecast. If you see any ups and downs you weren’t expecting, head over to the Daily Breakdown tab, set your date range, and run through all the cash movements in that time frame to pinpoint anything you weren’t sure about.

From here, you can update any budgets or invoices/bills you need to.

On this page you can toggle your budgets off to just show the next few weeks or months on an invoice or bill basis.

Create scenarios for different ‘what-ifs’

The most popular feature in Float is our scenario planning tool. This enables you to see what would happen to your cash in a different hypothetical future. 

 

The scenario tool is completely flexible, we don’t tie you into templates meaning you can create scenarios for any eventuality. The most common scenarios we see are:

  • Growing your team
  • Losing a client
  • Winning a client
  • Cutting costs
  • Office relocation

Right now, you might want to look at a scenario for cutting costs to get through this tough time. You might want to create a new scenario layer and augment salaries.

If you’re furloughing staff or receiving government support for salaries, just go into the existing wages budget, ignore the budgets for the next few months, and create a new budget in its place. 

You could also look at delaying a tax bill, getting a rent holiday, and receiving government support.

Compare multiple scenarios

If you’d like to see more than one scenario on the graph, go to Scenario Comparison in the Insights tab. Here you can layer as many scenarios on top of each other as you like, and export this to a PNG. This report is especially useful for comparing your base forecast alongside a best case scenario and a worst case scenario. 

Review budgets vs. actuals

Part of your workflow with your clients will be looking at their budgeting and reviewing performance against what was expected. Go to the Budget Variance report in the Insights tab to see how your firm’s or your clients’ budgets have performed over the past three months or the past month. You can drill into the performance of each account by clicking the relevant lines on this page, this will take you to the Account Deep Dive report.

If anything looks off, then speak to your client about updating their budgets moving forward. This is especially important right now for ensuring that your clients don’t jeopardise their plans to make it through the current recession.  

For more information on how to use, promote and price Float, check out our Accountant & Bookkeeper Resources Hub

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Partner program