Disputes in business happen all the time and in this specific case the issue was not actually related to Xero but more to do with services charged for implementing Xero along with a more complex add-on solution.
With over 280,000 customers we’re pleased that we’ve only seen a handful of these types of issues and generally we are able to work with and encourage the parties to work towards a resolution. Regardless, as small business moves to the cloud we’re keen to raise the discussion so the accounting and bookkeeping profession is best equipped for the technology changes we’re all experiencing.
The Xero accounting platform helps accountants and bookkeepers provide more advanced services to their clients through the ability to easily access and work with the client’s data in real time.
We fundamentally believe that small businesses do better if they have accountants and bookkeepers working alongside them. However, we don’t mandate that relationship and accordingly offer a flexible subscription model.
The small business owner and the advisor can decide how to structure the subscription depending on the needs of the client. The advisor can set up a subscription in Xero and incorporate (often called ‘bundling’) the Xero subscription fees into their service fees that are charged to the small business as their client. In this way the advisor becomes the “Subscriber”. Alternatively, the small business owner can hold their own subscription and pay Xero directly for the subscription fee. In this way the small business owner becomes the “Subscriber”, and can invite their advisor into the subscription as an “Invited User” (a user with certain access rights set by the Subscriber).
When it comes to using Xero, small business owners should consider who they wish to act as “Subscriber” in relation to the Xero subscription. A small business owner can register for Xero themselves and assume the “Subscriber” role, and limit the accountant’s involvement to that of “Invited User”.
A good accountant or bookkeeper will provide terms of engagement and a fee agreement before starting any work for a small business owner. The terms of engagement should clearly state each parties’ rights and responsibilities around the Xero subscription, along with the level of fees, service delivery expectations, and so on.
A good accountant or bookkeeper should also provide a small business owner with regular updates on the fees that have been charged. Small business owners should ask their accountant or bookkeeper for this information if it is not provided regularly. If a client has concerns about the level of fees being charged by their accountant or bookkeeper while the work is being carried out, they should talk to their accountant or bookkeeper first. If they are unable to resolve the situation with their accountant or bookkeeper, the small business owner should contact one of the relevant professional bodies in their country.
We are working on guidelines to help the relationship between small business owners and their accountants or bookkeepers in relation to cloud accounting software. This is an interesting area. We have raised the issue with relevant industry bodies and over the next few months will progress this as a project.
We’ll update you as we make progress.
We’re keen to hear any of your thoughts and concerns as we kick off this piece of work.
Please feel free to discuss below.