I have the privilege of talking with loads of people around New Zealand and overseas around what makes a great accountant. Quite simply when you find one they’ll revolutionize the performance of your business and give you a massive leg up against your competition.
Back when I was CFO of Nike Australia I remember my CEO saying something that fundamentally shifted my perception of what the accountant is there to do. “Greg your job is not just about managing the numbers, it’s about helping me manage the entire performance of the company.” Game shifter!
So given I get asked the question about the great accountant constantly, here’s my cheat sheet of what to look for:
In his keynote at Xerocon Sydney, our Australian Managing Director Chris Ridd announced we’re expanding our partner program in Australia to include financial planners and advisors, and that a Senior Account Manager (me) had been appointed to work with advisors full time.
This new complementary channel – built around using Xero Cashbook for budgeting and money management – has really started to take off and since August more than 250 professional advice firms have applied to become Xero partners. Check out this video of Steve Crawford of Experience Wealth – 100% of their clients use Xero and he talks about the advantages of becoming a financial planning partner.
More than 1500 accountants, bookkeepers and advisors Australia wide attended the financial advisor session of the October Partner Roadshow. Attendees had an opportunity to find out more about our Partner Program; hear success stories from advisors themselves; meet a few relevant Add-on partners; and see Cashbook in action – with a little help from my “typical”, newly married Gen Y couple William and Kate Windsor.
All good things must come to an end and today marks our last live US Roadshow event here in beautiful Honolulu, Hawaii. For the past 30 days, Xeros have traveled across the US to hold Roadshow events at 20 cities – from Seattle to San Diego, Baltimore to Boston, and Dallas to Denver. From the Xero Roadshow team, we wanted to say “thanks” to each and every one of you who came to see us.
Curtis Mclean, who have about 40 staff in Wellington, are a leader in moving to the cloud and helping customers make the transition. Being based in Wellington where our HQ is we’ve had a very close relationship. They are at the forefront of the shift – from compliance and business advisory services to helping clients with technology – and exploiting the huge ecosystem of software that can help them. They surprised us in a very happy way in August with their decision to send their entire team to the next Xerocon!
Now they’ve merged with Deloitte Private, which of course is part of the big global Deloitte brand and which have a very similar approach to Curtis McLean. The Deloitte relationship with Xero really took off back in late 2010/early 2011 when two partners came on board with Xero-active practices.
Thomas Pippos, Deloitte NZ CEO, says Xero played a material part in the decision to merge. “Our common view about Xero, and the benefits to clients from using Xero, and technology and the cloud more generally, meant that Deloitte and Curtis McLean already shared a common language, which played a part in the realization that our clients would be better served if the two firms merged.”
The Australian government is introducing a new SuperStream data and e-commerce standard which is due to begin in stages from July next year. SuperStream is a package of reforms designed to improve the superannuation system.
The most important changes include:
- a requirement for employers to use an online solution when making super payments
- a requirement for super funds to receive contributions via an online solution
- a minimum set of standards for data remitted
- it allows the use of TFN’s as a primary identifier to locate members accounts.
A few of the SuperStream benefits are:
- faster allocation of contributions to members accounts
- a reduced number of contributions being returned to employers due to insufficient member details
- improved efficiency
- a reduced number of lost accounts.
What does SuperStream mean for your business?
As of 1 July 2014, data standards becomes mandatory for all employers making contributions with 20 or more employees. As of 1 July 2015, data standards becomes mandatory for all employers making contributions with up to 20 employees
Like many government programs, while the intention is in the right place, navigating the loan application process can be tricky. That is where SmartBiz loans come in. SmartBiz loans are designed for small business customers looking to add inventory and equipment, or even accounting firms looking to hire additional staff in advance of tax season.
SmartBiz lets you apply online in only 20 minutes and get funded within 2 to 5 business days, avoiding the standard SBA application process that can take up to 90 days.
SmartBiz lets our accounting partners and their small business customers apply easily and quickly online for an SBA-guaranteed working capital loans. SmartBiz loans feature low interest rates, long repayment terms and an easy online application process.
As the number of UK accounting and bookkeeping practice grows, so too does the number of supporting staff members here at Xero. As part of our commitment to provide our Xero Partners in the UK with the smoothest and quickest transition from their current client accounting software packages such as Sage, Quickbooks (or quite often Microsoft Excel) – we now have the UK Partner Enablement team consisting of (left to right) Sarah Tetlow (me!), Chloe Jackson, Helen Gibbons and Michael Graves.
While we’re somewhat famous for hosting hundreds of people every day around the world on any one of a number of online training sessions and webinars, we also like to get out and about, too.
So, today the team embarks on a mammoth twenty-five venue tour of the UK all the way from Plymouth in the south, Belfast to the west to Edinburgh in the north, and pretty much everywhere else in between. We’ll deliver face to face training and updates to more than 1,000 delegates over the next two weeks.
Targeted specifically at accountants and bookkeepers (old and new), this year’s winter series of morning updates will cover:
- What’s new in Xero, including recent updates such as Files & Purchase orders
- Practice Studio – WorkflowMax Practice Manager & Workpapers for Xero
- Product roadmap update
- Gold Partner Q&A session
On Wednesday we announced new and refreshed subscription plans. We made these changes to align value globally for new features such as Payroll in the US, varying storage limits for our Files storage feature and in preparation for new services we have planned.
We don’t change pricing often, and around 90 per cent of our customers will have a price decrease or only a $1 or £1 increase. For some of our Australian customers there is a more substantial rise, where we’ve changed our approach of charging by number of payroll employees to be more granular. We’ve therefore raised prices where there are higher volumes of Payroll employees, inclusive of automated super payments, along with higher storage limits.
Where we can help, and are taking immediate action, is with a question that many Australian partners and customers have had about the incoming “Standard” plan only having 1 payroll employee. We know we’ve slipped up and I won’t bore you with the convoluted history of discussion that led to us putting that out there.
So we’re confirming that for the new Standard plan, we’ll make the number of payroll employees on that plan 5 not 1.
We are very grateful for the comments that have led us to reconsider this, and appreciate that for many small businesses with a very low number of employees that have been using Xero with Payroll in Australia it makes sense to keep the transition simple and provide this option.
[UPDATE: 9 Dec 2013 - the new subscriptions plans will take effect Monday morning, local time]
Today we’re announcing new and refreshed subscription plans globally to replace our Small, Medium and Large plans. We need to make these changes as we add other products, such as payroll in the US, and increase the storage limits for our game-changing Files storage feature.
[Updated] We’re also giving clearer guidance as to the size of business Xero is designed for. The 1000 invoices and 1000 bank reconciliation lines we’re listing are soft limits that have always been in place (was previously worded as “hundreds”) and we’d only get in touch for example if your use is using too many resources and affecting our service to other customers.
[Updated] We’ve listened to comments made below and directly and made an adjustment to the Australian plans, detailed in a new post.
The new plans are Starter, Standard and Premium. Small is now Starter and pricing is reduced in NZ, UK, Australia and the USA. Medium is now Standard. Large becomes Premium and in Australia and the US there are variations of the Premium plans with allowances for different numbers of payroll employees and storage. You will be automatically moved to the equivalent plan or most cost effective according to your feature use.
As always our prices are what you see is what you pay – no hidden fees per pay slip, no pay-per-use for certain features. Our core principles remain – unlimited users, free mobile app and bundled support.
We’re being very careful to align price to value, and believe Xero is highly competitive. Around 90% of our customers will pay less or $1 more. Any discounts, for example for non-profits, remain the same. The new plans and pricing come into effect with our release due December 9. All subscribers are being sent a notification within the next 24 hours.
The Xero product has evolved dramatically and with each release we try to deliver more value. This is the first time we’ve significantly tuned our plans since Xero began in 2006. In that time we’ve added many features – see the timeline. Our new Files service lets you attach source documents to your financial data, saving our customers costs on 3rd party storage as well as the hard to quantify costs of managing paper documents.
Subscriptions include any bank feed charges or direct deposit fees that we incur in the United States and automatic superannuation fees in Australia. Our 24/7 support continues to be free to all subscribers and we continue to invest heavily in our support teams, recently opening our newest center in Denver.