As a partner accountancy firm with Xero, it was good to welcome Hamish Edwards (co-founder of Xero) to our offices today to talk about this online cloud based accounting solution and how it can further benefit our fast growth SME clients in Manchester and across the North West.
Having enjoyed talks with Rod Drury (Xero co-founder and CEO) and Gary Turner (UK MD) it was interesting to hear Hamish’s perspective on the vision for Xero given that he is a Chartered Accountant with his own successful accountancy practice (Openside) in New Zealand.
Hamish focused on the increased value role of accountants as “Virtual FDs” via Xero with the ability to access clients’ accounting records in realtime in order to provide timely, proactive accounting, financial and tax advice rather than just dealing with the traditional year end reporting compliance work – this is a crucial practical and mindset change for accountants that is long overdue.
Hamish also talked about “collaboration” as a cornerstone of Xero and the key benefits such as the clear and easy to follow dashboard, live (and growing range of) bank feeds and fantastically intuitive bank reconciliation process.
I am both optimistic and excited about what the likes of saas based Xero technology might mean in terms of accelerating the flow of knowledge and information between accounting firms and clients (versus the curse of traditional knowledge silos). Put another way, there is a whole raft of valuable knowledge available in accountancy firms that is often never fully leveraged because it is perceived to be either “too early” or “too late” or “not quite right now” to discuss with a client. This timing issue can hurt both clients and accountancy firms and results from a widespread and enduring tendency to build the relationship around year end reporting – due in no small part to the lack of ongoing visibility of the accounting records.
We work hard to meet up with our clients at regular intervals for planning meetings and trading updates but I can see technology like Xero being a great enabler for us to work much more closely in the future. Better for us, better for our clients.
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