It was a big night for our team in Auckland, New Zealand on Friday as we took out the Hi-Tech Company of Year and the Export Award at the New Zealand Hi-Tech Awards. There was a piece on the three finalists on the news on Saturday.
For me, it was a surreal moment, standing on stage with a handful of Xero staff, in front of 700 people, listening to Rod’s acceptance speech (as well as my heart pounding loudly). Xero had been announced winner of the NZ Hi-Tech Company of the Year, the top accolade within the industry. Earlier we had received the Exporter of the year over $5 million Award. It was particularly nice that our friends at PWC and HSBC sponsored our awards, and that so many people within the industry were there to congratulate us and share in our celebration.
Steve Wozniak from Apple was on the judging panel. They noted …
“The hallmarks of a great company are focused leadership, rational planning, and superb results in the market, Xero exhibits all of these” and “Xero is executing the Web 2.0 playbook perfectly, blending brand building, product development, capital raising and value creation, and global expansion. Xero is the new benchmark for product-based tech companies in NZ.”
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On Wednesday this week we gingerly broke new ground at Xero by taking part in our first live Google Hangout broadcast on AccountingWeb, the UK’s biggest accountants community. Google Hangout is probably one of the most useful features of the Google+ service and is great for hosting group video chats, and these can also be broadcast live on YouTube.
Continuing our series on Rebranding the accounting profession, it’s well worth looking at PracticePlus, who have been working with Xero Accounting Partners around the world for the past three years and have come up with this great new video about their service.
Launched today, PracticePlus’ latest innovation in accountant websites – PracticePlus Lite – offers a superfast way for Xero partners to get online with a modern, mobile-friendly website that includes a suite of digital marketing tools built-in from the get-go.
Big news yesterday as MYOB announced they have finally acquired BankLink.
There will be lots of industry banter about what this means. Here are our thoughts.
Why did MYOB buy?
This acquisition makes sense for MYOB. Under their second Private Equity owner, US based Bain capital, they continue to load the business up with debt, which is now over 700m. Bain is now looking to exit out of MYOB and is signaling an IPO.
Bain probably did not foresee how the cloud is so quickly changing the economics of accounting software. Both MYOB and Reckon ‘double dip’ by charging accountants for accountant side software to process the same set of books originated in the small business software the owner has already paid for. In the cloud this goes away with Xero not charging for accountant tools.
MYOB do not report their detailed numbers. Actually neither has Reckon but with our increased market share it’s very likely that their NZ based accountant revenues are under pressure. With so much debt, if revenues are soft then MYOB would be under enormous pressure from its bankers. When we started Xero MYOB claimed 70,000 NZ customers of small business accounting. Xero now has over 70,000 customers in New Zealand on monthly billing so unless the market has doubled Xero is likely number 1 in our home market.
MYOB is also under pressure as its cloud sync model, which moves data between the installed desktop software and the cloud, has now been shipped and seems to be having issues. All these factors are probably accelerating the Bain’s desire to exit.
So if an IPO exit is planned then the MYOB acquisition of BankLink, which presumably carries little debt, makes sense to top up any revenue gaps.
Why did BankLink sell?
So why did BankLink sell after rejecting MYOB for so long? With the cloud accounting industry just taking off why would anyone in the space sell now?
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In the regional town of Orange, NSW, accounting firm Pigot Miller Wilson (PMW) is switching to WorkflowMax Practice Manager. PMW succesfully exported their client base to WorkflowMax Practice Manager at the beginning of the month and their invoicing followed shortly thereafter. They expect to change to make a big difference – not just in the practice but across the entire town.
By changing to WorkflowMax Practice Manager, they’re freeing up more of their time because the data flows from Workflow Max into Xero and vice versa without any need for manual entry. And that’s how they’re making a difference: they’re using that extra time to offer extra services that make local businesses better. Continue reading ›
At Xerocon London last year I announced the formation of a UK Partner advisory group, trendily referred to by the name XPAC (Xero Partner Advisory Committee) – and we operate one group in each of Australia, New Zealand, UK and the US, rotating membership annually.
The XPAC’s remit is to represent and advocate the collective views and insights of our accounting and bookkeeper communities in a structured way. We get truckloads of free-range insight across a number of channels like social media, 1:1 relationships and so on, but we think it helps to complement that with a regular sync and two way exchange with a fixed group of expert advocates.
We held our first physical meeting at our UK office a couple of weeks back and it was a great half-day exchange of ideas, discussion about future direction and feedback on positioning and priorities.
We have a pretty good fix on where we ought to be heading but it’s a big help to be able to check our logic and thinking as we go.
Following from our post earlier this week on rebranding the accounting profession we are excited to point to a newly released case study by digital marketing experts Mogul. They take the process of redesigning and refreshing an accountant’s website a huge step further with Xero login, integrated practice management, onboarding, email marketing, content management software and more!
The subject of the case study, Cloud Accountants, already had a great website that showed off their services and tech-savviness. They were winner of the first Xero Website of the Year Award in 2010. It had a friendly look and showed transparent value-based pricing options demonstrating their forward-thinking approach to being business advisors.
A while ago I came across a video project called Fifty People One Question that made me simultaneously happy, sentimental, grateful, and a wave of other profound emotions. It’s so simple, yet so powerful.
The creative agency Crush + Lovely behind that project has an incredible portfolio of equally beautiful videos, apps, websites and other creative endeavors.
I was thrilled to discover Crush + Lovely has been a Xero customer for years. We wanted to talk with them about their experience using Xero to run a creative agency, to learn about their workflow, how their team collaborate on finances, and how they manage growth. We want to make sure Xero performs well for agency sized businesses like Crush + Lovely with around 20 staff based in various cities across the United States.
It occurred to us, it would be wonderful to capture their story on video. And who better to produce the video than Crush + Lovely themselves?! As you’d expect, they nailed it. It was thrilling to hear the impact Xero is having on their business and their lives.
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Guest post by Seth David, a technology consultant specializing in trends and solutions for bookkeepers.
Thanks to today’s technology, CPAs, accountants and bookkeepers are more valuable than ever before. Our roles are changing; we’re business coaches, financial planners and virtual CFOs. Yet to fulfill these responsibilities, you have to be able to leverage technology to benefit both you and your clients.
To some, this might seem obvious. But the truth is that adopting smart technology can be a challenge. For starters, I admit that I have a technology addiction! Whenever new software or applications pop-up, my mind races with possibility. More often than not, I’m quick to implement new solutions. My clients however, require more convincing.
When bringing new technology into my practice, I have just one rule: it has to make it easier for clients to do business with me.
The key is to always keep the client front of mind. Here is a checklist to help you:
- Take the time to understand your clients’ business hurdles and comfort level with technology.
- Make a list of the issue(s) you’re solving. Use this as your guide when selecting a product.
- Present clients with solutions that complement their current processes or are easy to adopt.
- Check-in and review how technology is benefiting your clients.
As cloud accounting becomes the norm we’re seeing the positive impacts of accountants truly becoming business advisors to their clients. An indicator that the profession is moving in this advisory direction can come from a quick review of accountant websites out there now. When a firm moves to the cloud, streamlines their core compliance work, frees up time and starts offering advisory services, they’ll often re-brand not long after. A couple of examples of the new breed are shown below.
Brand has been a strange thing to talk about in the past within the realms of the accounting profession. Only 36 years ago it was considered unethical for accountants to advertise to clients on the basis that it encouraged the business side to overstep the professional side.
Given this history, it was a big ask a couple of decades ago for the profession to change tack and become business advisors and coaches for clients – not to mention advertising these services. Onlookers at the time would have thought Noah had a better shot of slamming the handbrakes on the ark and laying some tail.
Early adopters of the advisory approach were drawn in by the promise of greater profits and a higher calling to be more than just the conduit between clients and the taxman. They proved it was ok to make more money for clients as well as their firm and made leaping over to the business side feel a little less unethical. At the same time the ‘dark arts’ of advertising started to be adopted within the profession and consideration for the firm’s brand bounced around the tables of a few partner meetings.
And why not? As it became more accepted to provide business advisory services to clients it also made sense to align the brand of the firm with these services in order to attract clients who wanted those services. It’s obvious right? An entrepreneurial small business owner looking to build their business can be expected to positively consider a firm called something like Growthwise.