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NZBN a step closer to reality – have your say

New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) is one step closer to reality, with late last week the government releasing a draft of the proposed legislation ready for your feedback.

nbn

 

NZBN is a significant element in simplifying how you work with government. Under the proposed legislation, all businesses, government agencies and not-for-profit entities in New Zealand will be eligible for a unique NZBN. Once the NZBN is fully implemented, you’ll only have to provide government with your core information once. This information will then be automatically shared across agencies using the NZBN to identify you.

As accountants this is your chance to give feedback on something that means you can spend more time doing what you do best, and less time worrying about interacting with government.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is looking for particular feedback on:

  • who should be allocated a NZBN
  • what information should be linked
  • the rules around using the NZBN
  • how to ensure information is protected

NZBN was initially allocated to companies; however around half of New Zealand businesses are not companies so this next stage of public consultation is on the detailed rules of which businesses should have one and how they can go about getting one.

Because Xero is passionate about supporting New Zealand small business, we’ve been working hard for a more streamlined approach to connect businesses and government, and we were pleased to host the launch at our offices back in March. Now we’re really excited that NZBN has made it to the next stage, and we encourage our partners to get involved and have your say before the final Bill is introduced.

To find out more, head to http://www.mbie.govt.nz/about-us/consultation/nzbn-bill-exposure-draft

 

Xerocon Australia Partner Awards winners

This year’s Xerocon conference in Sydney attracted over 1300 attendees from the accounting, bookkeeping and financial advisor industries. The conference closed on a high as we celebrated the contribution of some of Australia’s leading partners at the Xero Partner Awards dinner on Friday evening.

Xero Australia MD Chris Ridd says “These prestigious awards honor the top performing add-on developers, accounting practices and bookkeeping professionals that our partner ecosystem has to offer.”

“We are delighted to see the huge efforts of our many partners in what was hotly contested awards ceremony that celebrated some amazing innovations and best practices. Our partners are absolutely critical to our success and these awards shine a spotlight on their successes.

Congratulations to each winner on this incredible achievement.

Winners of the Xero Partner Awards

Accounting Partner of the Year –
Mulcahy & Co.

Mulcahy & Co

Bookkeeping Partner of the Year –
CFM Bookkeeping

CFM Bookkeeping Continue reading ›

 

It’s a Workpapers world

We’re making changes on a few fronts in Xero Workpapers today: we’ve made a number of enhancements for our existing users and we’re pleased to announce Workpapers is now available globally.

Global availability

Today we’re launching a global edition of Xero Workpapers. Our accounting and bookkeeping partners anywhere in the world can now manage their workpapers, letters and client queries. Compiling management and year-end accounts has never been easier – head on over to the new global help centre to see what we have in store for you, then set up a free trial.

New and improved workpapers

The Home Office workpaper has had a major update – we’ve added a new tabbed design for those times when there’s a change of address or there are multiple claims to be made. It also uses the smarts behind our Permanent workpaper to remember key details from period to period.

Laurie's Hairdos Co – Home Office

We’ve also built a brand new workpaper for operating leases: this helps you keep track of your clients’ lease documentation and calculate their future commitment. To save you even more time, this is also remembered across periods.

Laurie's Hairdos Co – Operating Lease Commitments

Workflow improvements

When you send bulk queries, Xero Workpapers has some new smarts to decide how the packs are assigned, based on your most recent staff allocations. This makes it much easier to ensure your staff know what they should be working on.

Going green!

The Xero Workpapers and Practice Manager teams are working together closely to combine our powers. It’s going to take a while but work is already under way to bring two major parts of Practice Studio closer together and take advantage of each other’s strengths.
In the coming months, Xero Workpapers will have a new look and will be much more tightly integrated with Xero Practice Manager. This is pretty exciting for all of us – more news as this work progresses.

 

Introducing Australia’s new Head of Accounting – James Solomons

Many exciting announcements were made at Xerocon 2014. The one that had the most impact for me came on day two when Chris Ridd welcomed me to the main stage with the news that I had been appointed to the role of Head of Accounting of Xero Australia.

It’s a unique role that has been strategically designed to enable me to keep a foot in both camps, so to speak. So while I will be the Head of Accounting for Xero Australia, I’ll be performing this role alongside my position as director of EFS Strategic. This means I will continue to be hands on with my practice and clients. You could say I am on both sides of the ledger now!

The response from Xero Partners and the Xero Team has been amazing and proves that the industry is ready to embrace change. Thank you to everyone for their words of support.

Head of Accounting James Solomons – retweet

One thing I would like to make clear is that while I have strong opinions and beliefs on how a financial services firm can operate successfully, I’m very aware that businesses do things a little differently. We each have our own unique selling points and personalities. That’s why our clients choose one firm over another to build a relationship with as part of their own business advisory support network.

So, this role is not about coaching or training the Xero Partners. It’s about listening to you and collating your feedback and finding out what is frustrating you and holding you back from operating your own best practice firm. I will offer support and guidance and share my experiences with you, however my overriding goal is to be a sounding board for all things relating to our industry.

There is no doubt that there are a number of practitioners in the industry worried about what the future may hold. The key to prospering from this disruption is to embrace change and to start building your practice so that it can adapt to the ever-changing digital world. The compliance-only model will not survive as our industry becomes more automated and the government continues with its mandate to reduce red tape. If I am starting to sound like a broken record on this point then I make no apologies.

I said that I am committed to ensuring that Xero delivers market leading solutions to partners to help them run a modern practice. Taking the partner’s wants and desires direct to the product and development teams will ensure that your voices are heard at the table.

It is obvious that the missing piece to the puzzle remains a full tax suite for accounting practitioners. The Activity Statement and Company Forms now in Xero Practice Manager have worked well, but there is no doubt practitioners need to see the entire suite and they need to see it soon. That was the key piece of feedback I received as I walked the floor during the event. And this was not just feedback from partners, it came from the Xero Team themselves who all spoke with me about their goals to deliver what the partners want!

The other important aspect of my role is to be the voice of Xero and its partners direct into the accounting industry. What Xero has been doing has captured the attention of the ATO and Government (as highlighted by Chris Ridd) and Xero now not only sits at the round table when it comes to industry focus groups but leads the discussion. My task is to leverage this hard work and elevate it to the next level in all parts of the industry. I’ll ensure our voice is heard by the ATO, our professional bodies, the media and most importantly by businesses across Australia and the world.

And I got off to a good start judging by this tweet…

Rod tweets about Xero's new Head of Accounting

As for my vision… Well, I want to work towards seeing an industry filled with professionals who get technology; who challenge the status quo and who equip themselves and their clients with the market-leading accounting solution to ensure that maximum value is added to their business and their clients’ businesses at every single opportunity.

I encourage you to contact me whenever you feel the need; I’m here to listen and help you any way I can. Drop me an email james.solomons@xero.com or jamessolomons.com.

Don’t forget to check out the short video we put together while I was at Xerocon:

 

Xerocon 2014: that’s a wrap on the largest tech event of its kind in Australasia

After months of planning, preparation and brainstorming, the curtains have been drawn on Xerocon 2014. And what an event it was. From the number of attendees and the scope of ideas and content to the sheer size of the venue, everything about Xerocon was big. We were thrilled to welcome 1,300 delegates (a record for us) to two days packed with sessions spanning consumer psychology, branding and culture, digital disruption and more.

Attendees gathered in The Dome in Sydney for Xerocon 2014

Continue reading ›

 

Xero Accelerate: Your Holy Grail moment

Xero Accelerate instructor Bruce Phillips

Behind every great story is a great storyteller: one who takes you from difficulty to the happy ending. Today, the story of Xero Accelerate is proudly told by Bruce Phillips of Harshman Phillips & Company.

Bruce is a US Platinum Partner and Xero Accelerate workshop instructor. When we asked him why he signed on to teach other financial professionals about the cloud, he gave us one amazing story and we’re excited to share it with you:

The “holy grail” moment

Before Xero, I was working in a hosted QuickBooks environment and I was struggling. Then I met Rod Drury (Xero CEO) and experienced the “holy grail”, or what some might call a “light bulb moment”. Xero confirmed what I knew for awhile: That there is a better way to work with clients. And I was fortunate enough to recognize and embrace it.

But I have to say, the light bulb doesn’t turn on as often for practitioners in the United States. Talking with Xero Partners across the globe, I get that many of you are ahead of us when it comes to cloud adoption — and it’s my opinion that folks here are simply reluctant to change. That’s human nature and I get it.

I’m a storyteller at heart

I love sharing my holy grail moment with others. Telling my firm’s stories, both the good and bad, is powerful. Those stories can help people avoid the pitfalls that I faced. And believe me, there were a lot.

Leading the Xero Accelerate workshop is not only exciting — but it’s an opportunity for me to give back to my profession. I get to help foster a pro-cloud environment that encourages more pro-active and savvy conversations. And that’s where more light bulbs go on. When others get it, and they see the power of the cloud and of Xero, it’s electric. Continue reading ›

 

Going all out: Brisbane accounting firm Adrians gets to Gold in 12 months

Raewyn Baldwin is the Territory Manager of Xero in Queensland. Kimberley Middlemis is a partner at Adrians.

In my role as Xero Territory Manager for Queensland, I get to meet a lot of smart, inspiring and interesting people who bring a lot of passion to the accounting industry and the small business clients they work with. I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with a group of great people at Adrians, a chartered accounting firm in Brisbane, since June of last year. Their story of getting to Xero Gold Partner in 12 months is one I’m sure you’ll glean some inspiration and insights from. So, I’ll hand over to Kimberley Middlemis, one of three partners at Adrians, to tell it her own words…

Like any good love story, there comes that pivotal moment when two parties meet and the chemistry takes over. For me and my fellow accountants at Adrians, that moment (albeit in a slighty different guise) happened at Xerocon last year. I was sitting there with a colleague and good friend of mine, Angeline (who was running her own bookkeeping firm at the time), and we were both in awe of what the future of the accounting industry was starting to look like.

We were blown away by what we saw, and we still are: how Xero is changing the entire way SMEs, accountants and advisors are accessing data and doing business. Xero has created massive leaps in efficiency and time saving for all parties. Before Xero, we were a traditional accounting practice with traditional accounting software, and I remember sitting with Angeline in Chur Burger (a trendy little burger place in Sydney) after the event, not only marvelling at what I saw, but also knowing that this change had to happen for our business.

So, change to Xero we did. And now, 12 months later, on the eve of Xerocon 2014 (and yes, we’ll be there with bells on), I’m pleased to say we got to our goal of becoming a Xero Gold Partner in 12 months (celebratory drinks at Xerocon 2014, anyone?).

Clear communication was the cornerstone of our process for getting there. I know that might sound rather simplistic, but you’d be amazed at how much can be accomplished when communication lines are clear and open, and you have an honest dialogue with all your stakeholders.

So, we started talking with our current clients about Xero. We released a bi-monthly e-newsletter providing updates on the latest cloud accounting solutions. We also used the great pool of Xero videos in our e-newsletter to help clients understand what the product was all about. Creating our own video content has also been a really effective medium for us to connect with clients and prospects.

I believe all good businesses owners are looking for ways to make their businesses better, and once you provide them with clear information on how Xero works and how easy it is to use, it resonates with them and prompts them to act. These business-owners started calling us and wanting to know when they could convert. To put it simply, Angeline is our cloud implementation Partner and she has had a VERY busy year!

Changing the way you do things does, of course, come with some challenges. For us, the biggest challenge were the number of new things we required our team members to embrace. We have completely changed just about all of our internal processes and software – that means a significant investment in training. And with new systems in place, you have to feel your way around the program and work out how it is going to work best for you. Our team members have invested a massive amount of time doing this. We also had over 90 percent of our staff get Xero certified in that time as well. Our team really put in the hard yards and got their heads around what they needed to, and we’re so proud of each and every one of them.

I use Xero everyday – if I am not talking to clients and working on their files, I am working on Adrians’ accounts or even my personal files. Usually I access Xero on my work laptop but when I am running around, I use my Surface so I don’t have to lug around heavy computers. If I need something quickly on the run, I will use the Xero iPhone app.

We’d also like to give credit to Raewyn Baldwin from Xero. She’s been our Senior Account Manager for the last 12 months and she’s been fabulous, providing us with feedback and timely information on marketing and updates to the software. She was also a huge help when we converted to General Ledgers due to her extensive background in using the product.

How do you thank a company for changing your life? We kicked a few ideas around the office and came up this video, which we’ve shared with Rod Drury, Chris Ridd, Trent Innes and others at Xero.

A lot has changed for us since Xerocon 2013, and I know we’re all looking forward to learning more, opening our eyes even more – and making some amazing new discoveries at Xerocon 2014. We hope to see you there!

 

Xero Accelerate

I have a theme here: Excitement. I’m happy (make that excited) to officially launch Xero Accelerate.

Xero Accelerate is a one-day, roll-up-your-sleeves US-specific workshop designed to help accounting professionals turbo-charge their business. In true Xero fashion, you learn from Xero Platinum Partners as they guide you through the strategies, tactics and tools needed to successfully run as a modern cloud accounting practice. Watch this video to learn more:

It’s exciting and it’s our our responsibility, too…

When the teams first brainstormed the ideas behind Xero Accelerate, I got excited. Really excited. That’s because the concept of Xero Accelerate checks boxes that are important to us as a company:

  • The first box centers on beliefs. We believe in accountants and the accountant/small business relationship. We also believe in the cloud and cloud accounting.
  • The next box is education. Xero as a company has a responsibility to educate and it’s very much a part of our mission. Think about it: Cloud accounting is what we do all day/every day. We, along with some of our accounting partners who are working with us on Accelerate, probably know more about what works best from a small business cloud accounting standpoint than anyone else in the world.
  • The last box is obligation. I believe our company has a moral obligation to help enable the accounting profession to embrace this new technology that has the ability to improve many people’s lives. And we have to remember along the way that there’s a human side to any change. Given that the move to the cloud involves new technology and learning, and given that we’re in the best position to provide that learning, I believe it’s our obligation to do so.

It’s rare for one event to embody the mission and values of a company, but I’m excited (yes, I said it again) for Xero Accelerate to be that event for us here in the US.

Learn more and register for the Xero Accelerate workshop.

 

Giving accountants and bookkeepers an even bigger voice

We want to give accountants and bookkeepers even better representation in XeroAs a fast-growing business, we’re always looking for new talent, from developers and designers to people with an uncanny ability with technology, numbers and relationship-building. We’ve recently posted two exciting new roles that have been getting quite a bit of attention:

Head of Accounting

Head of Bookkeeping

A number of enquiries have come in, as well as questions from partners wanting to know more about what we’re up to. So, I’d like to share some thoughts and background with you.

The term ‘disruption’ comes up a fair bit in our industry. While it could be deemed an ‘overused buzzword’, I don’t think too many people involved in accounting would deny that disruption is precisely what cloud technology has brought to the table. Our belief is that this is a positive change with the scope for many benefits to the industry. We are also realists, however, and understand that new technology, and change in itself, can be challenging for some to embrace, and we want to do everything we can to help.

Several practitioners and journalists who follow this industry have not been shy in sharing their views, some provocative, on disruption and, notably, Xero’s responsibility in stepping up to the plate as a new industry leader (see some links below). As proponents of the cloud and this new model of working, we have to keep our eyes and ears open to feedback and commentary and, most importantly, we have to be proactive and take action to make sure that we stay focused on driving this progression and giving people the tools they need to succeed.

Continue reading ›

 

A new way to enter your EC Acquisitions and Reverse Charges

You’ve probably already seen some of the new functionality that we announced in our 23rd June update to Xero. There were a lot of great new features in this release, and one we really want to highlight is the way you can now enter EC Acquisitions and Reverse Charges from inside Xero. When you’re purchasing goods and/or services from EU Member States, the UK’s HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) requires you to declare this information in certain boxes on the VAT return. Which box this information goes into depends on the type of transaction. In terms of Reverse Charges, there are occasions when purchasing items from the EU where the VAT has to be declared (paid), but then ‘reversed out’ (refunded) directly at the same time.

Now, providing you use one of the three new tax rates that we’ve set up, Xero takes care of all of this for you. Xero automatically reverses the purchased items out – and that’s quite a time-saver if you’ve been doing this manually up to now. The three tax rates that have been set up are:

  • EC Acquisitions (20%)
  • EC Acquisitions (Zero Rated)
  • Reverse Charges (20%)

Watch our how-to video

We’ve put together a short how-to video that runs you through the process and shows you where the items will appear in your VAT report. Take a look and see how easy it is to deal with Reverse Charges in Xero.