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The age of the highly automated accounting firm

Posted 4 years ago in Advisors by
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We have long talked about the effect that automation can have on an accounting practice. Technology can improve many of the manual, data-driven processes that tie up a lot of time.  A highly automated accounting firm can expand their capabilities, bring on more clients and grow more quickly.

DigitalFirst author Sholto Macpherson has looked closely at this concept. The Macpherson Report: How to Run a Highly Automated Xero Firm, shows how practices are meeting this challenge.

The report is a fantastic look at how some accounting practices are automating processes. They’re using Xero and other technology to cut down on administrative tasks and increase efficiency. This gives them room to take on more clients. It can also remove the siloes that sometimes exist in practices.

The highly automated accounting practices

In the process he profiles two great practices. The first is Interactive Accounting, one of our oldest partners. It’s a Xero-only firm that recently gained Platinum Partner status.

The other practice is Zerobooks, a white label bookkeeping service for accountants and bookkeepers. They outsource back-office work to the Philippines to increase efficiency at a lower cost.

In the report, Sholto says that he didn’t set out to focus on Xero. But in looking for highly automated accounting firms, he found they had several traits in common. Xero happened to be one of them. In fact, many of these firms had made the choice to completely move clients to Xero. They found that cloud-based accounting software allowed them to better collaborate. They could also work at any time and on any device.

Some other traits include


Another key trait of these highly automated accounting firms is their commitment to technology. They have pulled together tons of cloud-based tools to fit their needs. This includes many of the 400+ apps and tools that integrate directly with Xero. By using all the technology available, they have improved become more efficient across the board.

The report is a great look at the evolution of the modern accounting practice. It explores how technology, including Xero, is keeping accountants and bookkeepers are more relevant.

The report’s biggest takeaway focuses on technology. “You can be highly efficient without using cloud technology, but your practice won’t be as efficient as those that do.”



Gavin Bottrell
July 12, 2015 at 6.54 pm

Interesting Article Xero Team, I’m not sure if older accountants will keep up. We are also experiencing younger accountants with poor technology experience

Trevir Schoenmaekers
July 14, 2015 at 9.32 am

Most of the highly automated firms I see are newer/younger firms. They don’t have bad habits. The biggest one is people in the firm wasting time on old processes to justify their existence (folklore).

Andrew Jones
July 15, 2015 at 10.43 pm


I assume you read this report by Mr. McPherson. Is the report worth the steep purchase price of $279? Your opinion is much appreciated.

Jay Kimelman
July 19, 2015 at 11.56 pm

We employee a lot of the same tools and techniques. The comments regarding “legacy” firms above is true, they find it hard to make that switch.

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