Businesses of any size can work in the cloud

Jo-Anne Blignault, joined BDO over 20 years ago – drawn by the juxtaposition of its global reach against the way they service small businesses.

BDO are the 5th largest auditing accounting firm in the world, offering a much wider range of financial services. As a big company, they’ve got big clients – but they give their best to small businesses and individuals too. That was one of the things that attracted Jo-Anne to the role of Audit Trainee in the 90s. Now Director of Business Service and Advisory, she still feels the same way.

“I loved the feel of BDO. Loved the clients we serviced – small businesses you’re part of from the start.” she says. That scope is reflected by the nature of the practice itself. “In your office you’re part of a family but get that exposure to international contacts, and have an international influence”.

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Accounting’s not just about punching in numbers.”

Convincing clients into the cloud

Jo-Anne has found the instant and open aspect of using Xero has had a huge impact on the way she and her team communicate with clients. “When you’re dealing with accounting packages that aren’t online or in the cloud, you’re a week, a month or – heaven forbid – six months behind on these conversations.” she points out. But, as an early Xero adopter in South Africa it wasn’t plain sailing at first.

Clients were apprehensive about having their financial information online, questioning online security and why their bank would send notifications about transactions. Slowly, but surely, Jo-Anne was able to change minds. With over 400 clients using Xero and more being added every day, cloud-based accounting has become second nature to clients of all sizes, in all industries.

“We have clients at the age of 80 who have adopted Xero, loved it, and been able to do their own processing from day one”. Jo-Anne adds “It’s been an incredible journey to go on with clients”.

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You can have real conversations with real clients, in real-time."

Changing the role of accountants

Asked about the benefits of working with Xero, Jo-Anne is quick to point out how it’s evolved the job of being an accountant or bookkeeper. “You’re helping advise clients, rather than keeping the books up-to-date. You can help in other areas like cash flow and pricing”.

Both clients and BDO colleagues benefit from this freedom. Clients get a better service for their business, whatever their size, while colleagues get much broader scope in their day-to-day tasks. They’re on hand to guide South African business owners and entrepreneurs in the best direction. This deeper learning and understanding is at the heart of Jo-Anne’s Business Service and Advisory department.

With this solid foundation of cloud accounting in place. Jo-Anne’s already focusing on the future and where this service could go next.

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I loved the feel of BDO. Loved the clients we serviced - small businesses you're part of from the start."