Build your own Xero empire

Nicolene Horowitz started at Core 10 years ago and has seen the practice grow from isolated to out-reaching thanks to the cloud.

When Nicolene followed in her sister’s footsteps with an accounting career she found herself working for Core’s auditing division, and it instantly felt like home. The team were close-knit and the location was ideal. In her own words “It was the perfect setting, and the perfect people – it was somewhere I could see myself working for a few years, easily”. A decade later she still is.

Although perfect for Nicolene, the location was far from ideal for a lot of clients, and the accounting methods of the time were time-consuming and cumbersome. Some accounts were handled using desktop software, others were still done by hand into the client’s books. She had an eye on the future.


Xero has really helped our business grow, and our clients' business grow."


Distance-free accounting

Core was based in Bloemfontein, Central South Africa, meaning some clients would travel 100-200km every month to drop off their paperwork. As technology evolved, such out of date processes improved. Life steadily got easier for Nicolene, her team and their clients – but it was taking the practice into the cloud in 2016 that changed the game.   

Not only did clients no longer have to travel cross-country to drop off boxes of receipts and paper forms, but Core itself grew. With accounting, auditing, tax and insurance divisions across 52 member firms, and a further 16 service companies, every part of the company is connected through their own “Xero empire” as Nicolene describes it.


Life after Xero – what a breeze!”

Clients at Core’s core

“We love to see small businesses grow, and reach their full potential” says Nicolene. She believes that one of the biggest challenges their clients faced was not being able to see their money on a day-to-day basis. She adds “The most beneficial part of Xero for our clients is real-time accounting”.

This was just one obstacle for their client, Pick n Pay supermarkets. They challenged Core to really infiltrate the retail sector using Xero. And that’s precisely what they did, automating 100s of transactions – captured and reconciled directly into Xero.

Janine Schwartz, Admin and Financial Manager of two Pick n Pay franchises speaks highly of Nicolene, Core and Xero. “We’ve saved so much time. No manual journals – you make a mistake, you go back and fix it. I can focus much more on the operational side of the business. Nicolene got Janine and her colleagues started on their Xero journey quite simply. After setting up the system and introducing them to Xero, they spent a full day together in training. Janine points out “Anything I need now, I just Skype”. 

Embracing cloud-accounting through Xero hasn’t just helped with retail clients. As Core continues to grow, they’re constantly onboarding clients in other fields as diverse as agriculture and medical.


The most important thing is family and friends. I like using Xero because it saves me time at work, so on a Friday night we can get everyone together for a lovely braai at our house”

Saved time spent wisely

Another benefit Nicolene has found is the freedom to spend time helping clients understand their accounts and report correctly. More to the point – with her clients running their accounts smoothly through Xero – Nicolene gets time back, and can leave work to spend time with her husband.