With Xerocon Brisbane 2018 quickly approaching, we got in touch with Mike Renner, from Mike Renner & Associates Ltd, about why he keeps coming back. We talked everything Xerocon and what he’s looking forward to at this year’s event.
How did your journey with Xero begin?
Soon after I set up my accounting business about 11 years ago, I was introduced to Xero by a client who knew Rod Drury. The client told me that they were transferring to Xero, and as their accountants we needed to ‘get on board’.
It only took a quick demonstration of the product, and an understanding of the effect it would have on what I call ‘factory work’, that convinced me to change. A single ledger shared by client and accountant made complete sense. But we also knew and embraced the fact that Xero would have a disruptive effect on our work.
As we expected we’ve cut out most of the processing, largely by training clients how to code transactions in Xero. Our role now is to polish information rather than processing it.
How many Xerocons have you been to and what makes you keep coming back?
The first Xerocon was in Napier, by invitation only. About 30 people attended, and about half of those were Xero employees. We were all early adopters and quickly became part of the Xero family, promoting the product to clients and colleagues. It was hard work convincing them the product would survive, being viewed an orphan product. However, looking back, Xero was very supportive. They had internal accountants able to answer technical queries about file conversions, and the like.
The main reason I keep coming back to Xerocon every year, is that it gives me an opportunity to have a sneak peek ‘over the wall’. Each speaker brings a different perspective of what the world will look like. For example two years ago Xero talked about the effects and benefits of AI, and now everyone is talking about it.
The other main reason I come is to network and learn things from like-minded professionals. I use the time to sit back and think about what we need to change so that we can do the best for our clients. Our industry is in the midst of huge change and challenges, and doing what we’ve always done will see us the same path as the dinosaurs. If you aren’t attending you’re missing out on these valuable milestones in your career.
What are you most looking forward to at this year’s instalment?
I’m very excited to see who the keynote speakers are this year. You can always learn a lot from them, and they inspire you to think in new and different ways. You are gain perspectives of the world outside our industry.
Xero have excelled in having speakers who will inspire you to put your head out of the accounting foxhole and see the bigger picture. As a sole practitioner, you’ve got to take the time out to create these relationships and learn from people in the industry, to stay relevant as well as competent.
If you had to choose one piece of advice for accounting professionals today, what would it be?
In the technical matters of accounting, tax and structuring, us accountants are the experts. But when it comes to clients’ businesses, they are the expert. They eat, breathe and sleep their business, and it’s something they’re very proud of. They know their businesses! To be an effective business advisor you have to develop an in-depth understanding of their businesses. To do this you have to learn asking and listening skills, rather than telling.
If you had one sentence to convince someone to attend Xerocon, what would you say?
Take the opportunity to look over the wall and get a glimpse of what the world will look like in 3-5 years – you’re going to have to face it at some point so it’s better to be prepared.