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RBS and NatWest Direct Feeds – An Update

single-ledger-EDM-1Two days ago we announced that customers with business current accounts with RBS or NatWest would be migrated to direct feeds, and that although this would be free for twelve months for people with existing Yodlee feeds, that ultimately there would be a £3.50 per month charge per RBS or NatWest business current account.

We believe that direct feeds provide better reliability, and that having a direct relationship with RBS and NatWest will give customers more assurance that the feed will continue to be available long-term. However we have been listening and we have taken on board the feedback and agree that you should have the choice between the feeds provided by Yodlee, and the premium feeds that are available directly from RBS and NatWest.

If you are happy to continue with the Yodlee feeds for your RBS or NatWest business current accounts, you do not need to do a thing, your feeds will continue as normal. If, however you would like to switch to the additional assurance of a premium feed, please review the instructions for NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland in our Help Centre to begin the process of putting the more reliable feeds in place.

Whether you’re a new customer or a customer who already has a feed, we will offer the two alternatives in parallel so that you can make your own decision as to which feed you would like to use. With the direct RBS and NatWest feeds, your statement transactions come direct to us from the Bank, authorised by your signed authority placed with the Bank. There is no third party involved, and you do not need to provide your RBS / NatWest online banking security credentials to set up the feed.

Thank you for all your feedback over the last few days. It is essential that Xero provides customers with the best service possible and although we believe that feeds provided directly by the bank are more reliable and that there is a great deal of value in that, we accept that for some, cost is a consideration so we are pleased to give our customers the choice of source for the data feeds. We really do appreciate all your comments and thoughts. Your passion has made all the difference.

 

Using Google’s Chromebox for Meetings at Xero

Here at Xero we are rolling out Google’s Chromebox for Meetings globally – and for the first time in a long time I am actually excited about meeting room A/V.

Global collaboration is crucial for Xero. Unlike a lot of global corporations that run fairly independently in each country they are based in, we have many teams that have members spread across various locations around the world. For the Xero Internal IT team it has been a huge challenge for us to facilitate the process of these teams working together.

Pre-Chromebox frustration

Prior to the Google move we had multiple methods of communication. This led to confusion and frustration between people and teams – “What do I use to talk to person X in the San Fran office?”. There were many options available and nobody was exactly sure what the correct method was. Adding to this confusion, many of our meeting rooms offered multiple connection methods (room PC, local HDMI/VGA, projector, etc) which more often than not could be difficult to set up. Delays in meetings were frequent. As Xero grew larger the problem also increased and productivity was starting to suffer.Chromebox being used at Xero 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 ›

 

US Payroll API live with first integration

We’re pleased to announce the general availability of the API for US payroll. This extends the reach of the payroll API to Australia and seven states in the US that covers approximately 40% of the US population.

US Payroll API

The US Payroll API covers the main use cases including employee information, creating and updating timesheets, and processing pay runs. This is the first release of the US Payroll API and there are extra end points that we’ll address in future releases including time off and holidays. Developers will be familiar with the same pattern being used as the other Xero and payroll API endpoints. The same OAuth process is utilised, but with the addition of granular permissions.

US Payroll API Continue reading ›

 

Bringing you the most reliable bank feed experience

single-ledger-EDM-1We’re taking another step towards a more reliable bank feed experience – by migrating all RBS/NatWest business accounts to direct feeds.

We launched our first direct bank feed in the UK with HSBC in 2009. None of the other UK banks were ready for direct feeds at this point, so this was a significant step forward for customers using HSBC accounts – having a direct feed into Xero brings a whole raft of efficiencies, so we’ve always planned to bring more direct feeds into the mix when it became possible to do so.

In 2010, Xero was the first online accounting provider to implement third-party Yodlee feeds for customers using other UK banks. So we’ve always been at the cutting edge of linking our customers’ accounting software with their business accounts. And now, with RBS and Natwest we’ve gone a step further.

Why are we changing to direct feeds?

In 2014, the good news is the UK banks are beginning to get their own data services up and running. And from a reliability and friction perspective, direct feeds are becoming more competitive with Yodlee feeds. So we’re very keen, as always, to bring you the most efficient bank feeds we can.

While the RBS/NatWest Yodlee feeds are among the most reliable, we’re confident we’ll see even more reliability with a direct feed and that has to be welcomed. Yodlee is still a great solution so we won’t be switching off Yodlee feeds for any RBS/NatWest account types that can’t be catered for by direct feeds.

How do I know if my account is a business current account?

The change applies only to RBS/NatWest business accounts, not to personal accounts. If you need to check which type of account you’re currently using, just speak to your bank and they’ll be able to confirm the type.

Alternatively, you can visit the RBS or Natwest pages in our Help Centre, download and complete an application form and we’ll let you know whether your account is a business account or not.

Is there a charge?

While the direct feeds do incur a charge per account (as they have done with HSBC since 2009), the cost is marginal compared with the benefit of reliable daily feeds. In time, and as more banks come on stream, we expect the forces of competition to drive down the cost. And Silicon Valley Bank direct feeds, that are coming online next month, are in fact free. So, that’s already starting to happen.

When will the change to direct feeds begin?

The change will start from today. Yodlee feeds will remain active for a while, but the sooner you move your business accounts to the new feed platform the better.

  • To make the transition as smooth as possible, Xero is absorbing the cost of all Yodlee to direct converted feeds until August 2015. So you won’t pay anything for the first year if you’re already using RBS/NatWest Yodlee feeds.
  • You can stay on the free feed until 1 August 2015 – but as the feed is being offered free to anyone with an existing feed, there’s no cost benefit to staying on the Yodlee feed.
  • From today, all new accounts on direct feeds will pay £3.50 for each account.

Where can I find out more information?

We realise that you’ll probably have some deeper technical questions about the move to direct feeds. So with this in mind, we’ve put together RBS and Natwest help pages to answer those questions.

You can also contact our UK bank feeds team on bankfeeds@xero.com if you have a specific query about the change.

Once you’re ready to move across to direct feeds, just fill out the online application form on the  RBS or Natwest pages in our Help Centre and send it through to us. Then we’ll do the rest.

We’re looking forward to moving to direct feeds and bringing you the most reliable bank feed experience we possibly can.

UPDATE – 14 August 2014

Please see today’s post for an update on RBS and NatWest direct feeds.

 

Another step forward for reporting

At the end of May we released a collection of brand new Aged Reports. Those were the first reports to run on our new reporting infrastructure, and they were a major milestone for Xero, the culmination of a lot of investment and effort. That foundation release has let us build some updated versions of existing reports, with lots of new features and more data.

Depreciation report

The first is the new, and very much improved, Depreciation Schedule report. We have had a lot of feedback on this report over the years and we have taken it all on board. The result is a report which will print in portrait by default, and which can show you the capital gains, losses or depreciation recovered. It allows much more space for the asset names, and if you are reconciling the balance sheet you can now show both opening book value and opening accumulated depreciation. There is lots of new data to play with!

Depreciation reporting options

 

Account Transactions

The second report in this release is a new Account Transactions report. The old report only let you choose one account at a time; the new one loads with a far more friendly experience and lets you choose more than one account.

Multipicker

 

 

There are convenience dates to help quickly get the right data on screen and of course all the column reordering, sorting and other features you expect of our new reports is there as well.

Remember that you can update the report template to make it run for the accounts and dates you want by choosing Save > Template so that next time you run the report it goes straight to where you want.

Hey Xero – what about my pet feature?

This is the first release of the new Account Transactions report, but it certainly isn’t the last. We are sticking to a policy where as soon as we have valuable features we will release them, even if we plan to add other features. We know the multi-picker for accounts will be welcomed by so many people, and so we wanted to get it in front of you as soon as we could!
This is why the report is not available to users on the the Premium plan yet, but don’t worry, you will see it soon.

So what other features do we have coming up for the Account Transactions report?

  • Opening and closing balances for the asset, liability and equity account types
  • Handling the currency revaluation accounts
  • Showing the tracking information
  • Running balances for accounts
  • Powerful filtering options to focus the data quickly to what you are looking for
  • Tracking filters to limit the data to just individual tracking values

What else are we working on?

The new Profit & Loss report is in the final stages of development. While the report itself looks great, with a clean look and a concerted effort on improving the readability, it isn’t the report itself which makes it sing – it’s the layout editor. The new layout editor is going to be used in so many places, like report packs and report schedules, as well as client level reports. The client level Profit & Loss will be the first place we will release it, but that is another release blog!

In addition to these reports, we’ve delivered a number of other enhancements, including:

  • Being able to search invoices, bills and credit notes by transaction amount
  • Enhancements to remittance advices. In our pre-release communications we said we’re going to have a free text field on remittance advices, but that hasn’t made it into this release. We do support the sales tax number and registered address, though. Refer to the release notes for all the details.

 

 

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.

 

An afternoon with the Prime Minister

A week or so ago we received a note from the New Zealand Prime Minister’s Office that John Key would like to see more about what we’re doing at Xero and meet some of our Wellington based staff. We were thrilled to have had the PM drop in on us at Field Days and delighted that he wanted to learn more about how ICT is developing in NZ.

“Of course,” we said. We then realized that many of our development team were over at WDCNZ, so worked with his team to have the Prime Minister visit the conference and do a Q&A with the 440 web developers attending.

NZ Prime Minister John Key at WDCNZ

It was a treat to be able to introduce the Prime Minister at the conference and share a few fun stories of working with the PM over the years.

We then walked across to Xero One Continue reading ›

 

When should you hire an accountant?

When to hire an accountant

Research we did in the small business community showed that many small businesses are unsure about when to hire an accountant and about the value they can bring. Xero’s latest Small Business Guide ‘When to hire an accountant’ provides all the top tips you need to know.

If you’re a small business owner, the chances are pretty high that you didn’t start your own business to be swamped in the financials. This is where it makes sense to get a professional to take care of the numbers so you can focus on what you do best – running the business.

Growing small businesses need well-managed finances

Small business owners are always looking to save money, so an accountant can often be considered an unnecessary expense. But certain tasks (such as filing taxes) can be very time consuming for someone without experience  – and even then the tax return can be riddled with errors. The best accountants and bookkeepers will be looking for ways that your business can make money. They are coaches, always encouraging and training you for better results.

Continue reading ›