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How AccountKit became the toolkit for accountants

Posted 4 months ago in Advisors by Kaye Harding
Posted by Kaye Harding

Xero’s app marketplace has over 700 apps which help small businesses and their advisors reach their goals. Each month we celebrate an app partner who stands out for helping small businesses thrive. Find out more about Xero’s app partner program here.

Introducing AccountKit, our July app partner of the month

No matter what type of job you’re in, you need your go-to toolkit. Business solutions from the cloud are growing, as are requirements for accountants. AccountKit provides a suite of tools helping automate day-to-day compliance and administrative tasks for cloud accounting firms on Xero Practice Manager (XPM).

Paul Murray, Founder and Director of AccountKit, firmly believes when accountants head into the cloud they need their data to be transparent and manageable. 

“Accountants need real-time information and a two-way sync of their data. Client information shouldn’t be sitting in independent silos. AccountKit gets rid of those systems. We take manual day-to-day tasks, put them in the cloud and tie it back to client data. We use automation to reduce the amount of time and resources spent on different software packages.”

AccountKit is known in the industry as the Swiss Army knife for accountants. With a wide set of tools for inter-entity loan reconciliation, equipment finance, correspondence and professional development registers, client mapping and more, accountants are able to pick and choose the tools they need for the job.

Inspired by the industry

The idea for AccountKit came to Paul when he attended his first Xerocon in 2014.

“I was super excited about the potential for the industry. The fact we could access real-time data and deal with clients much more proactively was a game changer. As an accountant for 16 years or so, I’d seen traditional practices run on clunky systems.”

Paul was an accountant at his family’s practice at the time. It was his first exposure to Xero, and kicked off a new chapter of his career.

“Xerocon inspired me to put clients on Xero. It opened my eyes to where the industry was heading and the possibilities of what we could do with our practice. I love accounting, I love the way we operate with our clients, and I saw the way we could do more for them.”

Paul knew there was a way to improve what accountants offered their clients.

“Typically an accountant might do a lot of compliance or mandatory work which clients have to pay for. By accessing real-time data and providing insights, our clients were happy to pay because it helps them instantly. It’s much harder to help someone with 18 month old data which isn’t relevant anymore.”

Why build to Xero?

Thanks to Paul’s experience in the gaming industry coupled with his accounting skills, he saw the opportunity for an accounting toolkit and jumped. For him, building to XPM was a no-brainer.

“We started with XPM because they had the best API for us to be able to share data appropriately in both directions reliably.”

As Paul and the team started building the integration, they looked at the problems accountants faced and solved real problems they knew first hand.

“We looked at everything we were doing as an accounting firm. Like most accountants we had templates in excel, but there’s so much you can do with them when they’re connected to client data. They’re no longer prone to corruption or deletion, and it’s automated. Once we centralise client information, accountants get an overarching awareness of client data. The time you end up saving is enormous.”

Launching and loving at Xerocon

Paul remembers his first experience as an app partner at Xerocon fondly.

“We launched in 2016 and went to Xerocon that year. We were on a small stand, and it was crazy for us. I love being part of the events and I’m blown away at how friendly this ecosystem is. Even with competitors. Every event is like a reunion, and we all have fun together. It’s a unique, great thing about Xero’s ecosystem.”

Paul adds accounting firms can typically be slow to adopt new technologies, so developing a close relationship to Xero was important to him.

“Accountants have to trust we’ll be around for the long term, so we’ve concentrated heavily on supporting the Xero sales teams. We help them hit their goals. In doing so they help us because the more practices we have on XPM and Xero, the more appealing we are.”

More highlights from Xerocon for Paul include taking home the Industry Specific App Partner of the Year award in 2018 at Xerocon Brisbane, and the popularity of the AccountKit stand at the same event. 

“We’re getting a reputation for doing stands that are a bit different. Last year we did a hipster tattoo parlour as our theme, where people came to get accounting themed tattoos. We called them accountatts. I can’t wait for people to see what we’ve got lined up for this year. We wouldn’t miss it – we’ve tripled our client base since Xerocon last year.”

Building business through relationships

Paul has learned the industry is all about relationships. 

“We’ve got great relationships with other add-ons and people at Xero, who we love hanging out with. You can have the best product in the world, but if you can’t manage relationships with the likes of Xero or other add-ons, you’ll be dead in the water very quickly.”

Why?

“You need the advocacy of people believing in you as a person, which they then place onto the software. If they like you as a person and the software seems half decent, you’ll get that support. Relationships are a key part of that.”

Paul says the AccountKit team took a page out of Xero’s book when it came to principles for AccountKit.

“The rate of change is so exciting, and the support we would receive from Xero was very quick. That made us feel good, and listened to. We subscribe to the same ethos as Xero. We want to look after our clients and accounting firms. We listen to them to evolve the product. As much as I’m an accountant and I know what I like, many features come from feedback. We love to further our clients enterprise. If I can make their lives and our lives easier, we’re all winning.”

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