Following hot on the heels of ASB, Kiwibank has also launched support for next-gen banking with Xero, providing further validation of the vision to bring internet banking and accounting software closer together.
Kiwibank has added support for automated provisioning to their business banking customers, who can now quickly set up feeds for Xero. They can also send payments from Xero back to internet banking for approval.
By creating connections between Xero and the data and systems provided by the banks, businesses can have better control of their financial position. Plus, with the help of their advisors, they can now react more responsively to changing business dynamics.
But our vision goes beyond the simple flow of transaction data from the bank to the accounting system. Our platform will allow customer instructions to be seamlessly sent to the bank from Xero, which allows accounts and feeds to be created automatically. This removes the traditional friction associated with dealing with banking systems, while providing better visibility and control over a small business’s financial position.
And this is just the beginning. When customers connect Xero with the banks and their systems, their businesses can take advantage of additional banking products and services. This will allow them to react faster than ever before, and give the banks more opportunities to help their customers be successful.
By establishing relationships with ASB Bank, TSB and now Kiwibank, Xero is opening up new opportunities for small businesses to interact with their banks. This will save them time, improve their financial visibility and, ultimately, give them even more control over their business and its financial needs.
To use this service, sign in to internet banking and visit Your Settings & Services, click on Xero Services and follow the instructions.
And for our Australian customers, direct feeds have arrived for:
Rural Finance – provides banking services to the Victoria region, and in particular to the agricultural business sector. More details are in our Help Centre. Feeds are available now.
Maitland Mutual - services clients in the Maitland and Hunter valley regions of New South Wales, and are one of the oldest building societies in Australia. They’re providing feeds to Australian customers. Feeds are available now.
IMB (Illawarra Mutual Building Society) - is the oldest building society in New South Wales and the third largest building society in Australia. We are currently transitioning existing IMB customers over to direct feeds – we’re accepting applications now and feeds will start on the 9th of July. More details are available in the Help Centre.
Our current list Australian direct feeds is available in our Help Centre. More to come soon.
We’ve released updates today in payroll make it even easier to manage your end of financial year for Australian payroll. We’re holding free online payroll training sessions to get you ready and give you an opportunity to ask any questions. Book now to make your payroll end of year as easy as possible.
Payment Summary Annual Report
You can now lodge your payment summary annual report online from payroll. If you’re an employer you need to lodge this report with the ATO each year. Your report includes all the payments you made to your employees and the tax which was withheld. You can make it easier for your employees to lodge their tax returns by lodging your report early and electronically.
Lodging your payment summary annual report online from payroll is the quickest and most secure way to meet your obligations. All you need to lodge online from payroll is an AUSKey. This is a secure login that identifies you to the government on behalf of a business. For more information access our Help Centre guide.
Payment Summaries can be emailed to your employees from payroll or made available for them to download from My Payroll. They need to be issued to your employees by the 14th July and the annual report lodged with the ATO by the 14th August.
Updates for Auto-Super
We’ve also released a number of changes to further enhance Auto-Super in payroll including:
- Changes to ensure your compliance with the SuperStream data requirements.
- The ability to include a negative super accrual to ensure that any adjustments made, e.g. overpayments, are included within the total super payment owing for that employee.
- Plus other smaller tweaks you won’t see like support for international phone numbers when using SMS authentication.
Starting the new financial year ready to go
The Superannuation Guarantee (SG) rate increases from 9.25% to 9.5% on the 1st July. Moving relevant employees to the new rate has been automatically taken care for you so you don’t have to do anything in payroll. We’ve also updated the payroll tax tables as we do every year so you don’t have to worry.
If you like what you see and haven’t yet made the change to Xero check out our conversion partners or contact to one of our certified advisors. We have some exciting updates coming soon to Payroll and we’ll share these with you as soon as they’re ready.
For full details please check out our release notes.
Today we’re pleased to announce the release of Federal e-file in US Payroll. Back in April we released the first version of Taxes & Filings. This provided you with signature ready completed tax forms to ensure you could meet your filing obligations.
Easily meet your Federal payroll tax obligations with Federal e-file
With Federal e-file, Xero creates and electronically files your Federal payroll tax forms for you. This allows you to file with the IRS online, at anytime from anywhere to meet your filing obligations. Federal e-file is available to customers on Premium pricing plans. To use Federal e-file it’s required that you enroll your business with Xero. For instructions on how to enroll please click here.
Although we’re not yet at our goal of making everything electronic, we’ve achieved a key milestone in this release with Federal e-file. We’re now focused on bringing you Federal electronic payments and other key improvements to continue to strengthen the experience.
Our vision is to provide you with the worlds best payroll experience for small businesses, in all states, allowing you to manage your payroll; easily and without fear. However, at this time we have no plans in the short term to support more states as we focus on the experience in the current states. With our Payroll Add-Ons you can still benefit from using Xero by using one of our integrated partners to manage your payroll.
For the last few years I’ve been in the US building a very small team whose sole focus is on delivering new features that drive additional value to our customer base. Innovations like Online Invoicing and Files have come out of this team. Today I’d like to introduce Smart Lists.
Having run my own small business before starting Xero, and after talking to a lot of our customers over the last eight years, I’ve learned quite a bit about how small businesses work. Actually, both the most amazing, and the most frustrating, thing about building software for small businesses is that while there are a lot of similarities across small business, every business is unique in some way. It’s beautiful. And the reason why we wanted to build them beautiful software.
When I ran a business the one thing that always struck me was how hard it was to find new customers. It was much easier making my existing customers extremely happy so that we could do repeat business. What I’ve realized is that for many small businesses, this is their prefered approach. In fact, according to Bain & Company, it costs six–seven times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. This is a key metric for small businesses of all types, and it highlights the importance of the connection you have with your existing customer base.
We’ve built Smart Lists because marketing to your existing customer is important. Smart Lists is all about unlocking the treasure trove of information you store in Xero about your customers – what they’ve purchased, how much they’ve spent, the last time you invoiced them, where they’re located and so on.
Smart Lists is essentially an advanced search over your existing customer base, using the accounting platform as the search engine. This search lets you generate highly targeted lists that you can then use to sell to, chase for payment, gather information about, or basically anything else you want!
Many small businesses don’t have Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. With Smart Lists, you’re able to communicate with organisations that are already your customers, using the data you’re updating everyday – it’s far less hit and miss.
This morning we released a ton of updates to Xero. Here are some of the highlights – check out the Xero release notes to see the rest.
Xero TV on the login screen
We now display education videos right on the login screen making it easier for all users to be smarter with Xero, and discover new features. Our education team has been investing significantly to create useful content for Xero TV and it’s the best place to learn about Xero.
Support for four decimal places on unit prices
We’ve heard you! Plenty of you have been asking for Xero to support unit prices with more precision – a bit more to it than you might think but we hire smart people, so good to be able to tick this off. For most of you it will just work – however, if you use DOCX invoice templates you need to make a small update.
It’s been a couple of months since my last HR blog post – and that’s mainly because I’ve been so busy finding new Xeros to join our ever-expanding team. We’ve been incredibly active on the recruitment front this year, with over 50 new people joining Xero UK so far in 2014! As you can imagine, I’ve had my hands full writing job specs, dealing with recruitment and interviews and generally making sure we’ve got the right people in the team to move us forward.
So, I’m extremely glad (not to say ecstatic) to announce the arrival of our new full-time Xero Recruitment Consultant, Liz Crump.
Liz joined us on the 16th June and is already making a big difference in reducing the amount of my week that’s spent on recruitment. So, welcome to the HR team, Liz!
Focusing on people management
Switching my focus away from pure recruitment means I can extend my role and really focus on people management activities. But in a fast-moving business like Xero, what are the important parts of the HR spectrum that I should be focusing on? To cut to the chase, what’s the purpose of HR for an organisation at Xero UK’s stage of growth?
There are at least two dimensions going on in terms of scale; global and local. When your global HQ is based on the other side of the world, there are some very specific challenges that come up around growing local teams, expanding communications between territories and creating a common culture and company philosophy – not to mention how you plan meeting times for multiple timezones, and make sure everyone is taking their turn to do late-night Google Hangouts etc. And, from a local perspective, there are specific regional focuses that I need to think about around supporting the UK strategy, pushing our people management plans forward and making sure everyone’s happy as they move along their Xero journey.
The Connect Smart website launched this week in New Zealand, a collaboration between the NZ Government and other agencies and companies. The goal of the website is to help people keep themselves secure online.
Connect Smart and protect yourself online
Being secure online is important for everyone who uses the internet – in their personal life, at work and when out and about with their mobile device. Here are some statistics that Connect Smart has compiled from a New Zealand survey:
- 83% of people have experienced a cyber breach
- 22% have had their emails hacked
- 12% have had their credit card details misused
- 86% of people don’t regularly change their passwords
- 44% of Kiwis use less than three unique passwords
- 48% of people don’t have a PIN on their work phones
It’s easy to see how behaviour like this could cause issues for small businesses. A wealth of information is stored and transferred over email and work phones. Credit cards are regularly used to purchase products. Passwords are the main key to our digital lives. If any of these are compromised it can affect a business’s day to day operation, or even its long term viablility.
It’s often quite hard to give security advice to small businesses. There’s a wealth of information out there, some of which is really aimed at large companies with big budgets, and distilling it down to what what’s useful for small businesses can be difficult.
Connect Smart SME Toolkit and Cyber Security WOF
The Connect Smart team have put together a great SME Toolkit which I encourage you to check out.
The Cyber Security Warrant of Fitness is a checklist covering four areas:
- Assess the cyber security of your business
- Develop a cyber security policy for your business
- Establish an incident management plan
- Regularly review and update your network security systems
The first step of assessing the cyber security of your business is something you can quickly do to see how you compare and what you want to improve.
The end of the financial year is approaching in Australia and small business owners need to start planning their tax strategies. Here are our tips on how to reduce your small business tax bill by timing your income and expenses.
We all know that when you run your business, you want to maximise income and keep expenses as low as possible.
But when it comes to tax time you should aim to do the opposite – minimise income and maximise expenses in order to reduce your assessable income and the amount of tax you have to pay.
Of course, you don’t do this by turning away customers or needlessly spending money!
Instead, it’s all in the timing. In other words, you bring forward expenses into the current tax year, and defer income into the following tax year.
While you might eventually have to pay tax on the money you save, in the meantime the extra money is yours to use as you see fit – to invest back into your business, to reduce your borrowings and hence your interest payments, or to earn interest in the bank.
Crunch the numbers: cash vs accruals
Many small business-owners start out with cash accounting – that is, recognising the income and expenses in your business when they are physically paid.
Timing strategies work best with accrual accounting so, if you haven’t already, you might consider making the change.
Accrual accounting recognises income and expenses when you issue an invoice or receive a bill, not when you receive or pay money. This accounting method creates debtors and creditors, so it’s a good idea to use online accounting software like Xero, which makes it easy for you to keep track of your business’s cash flow and its true financial position.
Xero Australia is excited to announce the opening of a new office in Canberra, amid its growing footprint in Australia. The team in Canberra is moving to a larger office space to accommodate the hiring of additional staff, with a number of developer roles opening up in the second half of 2014.
During a time when many public sector jobs are under threat in the ACT following this year’s Federal Budget, we’re committed to creating employment opportunities in Australia’s capital.
Momentum for Xero is building strongly among small business owners, with the recent announcement that Australia has over 120,000 customers, and staff numbers in Australia now total 144 across five offices.
Check out our photos of Xero Australia’s new Canberra office, and listen to an interview I gave to 2CC radio in Canberra:
Do you know anyone in the US who is in school – or about to head to school – to get an accounting, economics or finance degree? Could they benefit from a little financial help? If so, make sure to tell them about Xero’s $5,000 accounting, economics or finance scholarship.
Here at Xero, the accounting and financial worlds are obviously a huge part of what we do. What’s more, we know that accounting, economics and finance students go on to play an extremely important role in the small business world. So we’ve decided to award $5,000 to a student who is majoring in one (or more) of these subjects.
Who can apply for Xero’s accounting or finance scholarship?
All legal US residents who are currently enrolled full-time at an accredited university or business school (which must also be in the US). Applicants must be majoring in accounting, economics or finance. There is no age limit and it doesn’t matter what stage of study the student is at (see below for GPA requirements).