Any accounting professional will be familiar with write-up clients – small business owners who only ask for basic financial reporting so they can do their taxes. And any accounting professional will be familiar with the frustration that comes from wading through client data that hasn’t been seen or touched by an accountant in months or more.
Trevor Smith, Director of Technology Services for Xero Gold Partners Harshman Phillips and Company was no exception. He found write-ups frustratingly inefficient – until he started using Xero.
From re-keying to matching
Here’s how it used to work: every month clients would email PDFs of their bank statements. He’d print them out, then his staff would enter them into accounting systems for analysis and reporting. It was a time-consuming process, rife with data entry and human error.
Then they started using Xero and the pain of write-ups all but disappeared. Rather than download and re-key a PDF, Xero’s bank feeds connect client ledgers directly to their bank accounts. Bank transactions automatically come through each day, and all staff need to do is code them. According to Trevor, this makes the process “far more effective, far more efficient and far less prone to errors”.
Trevor uses staff capacity as an efficiency metric. Prior to Xero, one of his staff members was spending all of her time on one client. Now, she’s working on 3.5 clients, and Trevor has plans to bump her up to four clients.
Of course, Trevor’s staff member isn’t working four times as hard. She’s working smarter because Xero has eliminated “at least six steps” from the write-up process. What’s more, the output is more reliable. Since the transaction information comes straight from the bank, without any intermediate steps, Trevor can always vouch for its accuracy.
More than more capacity
The direct result of this efficiency is more capacity. Harshman Phillips & Company can take on more write-up clients without increasing the amount of time they spend on those clients.
It’s always been possible to change the subscriber of your Xero Business account but now we’ve made it dead easy. Changing the subscriber can be required, for example, if someone is leaving an organization or if an accountant is assuming responsibility for the subscription from their client.
Previously, changing the subscriber involved contacting Xero customer support, but as part of our feature release this week we’ve made it a self-service option, which will save a lot of people a little bit of hassle each.
To initiate a change in the subscriber away from you, simply click on the organization’s Info in MyXero and select the Transfer subscription option as in these instructions, entering their name and email address.
It’s no secret that the way we’re using technology is changing, and no more so than in the field of accounting and bookkeeping.
So, as we head into 2013 we thought it would be cool to take a snapshot of attitudes and trends by running a survey in conjunction with AccountingWEB, the leading UK/US accounting news site, in order to find out what accountants and bookkeepers around the world think about online accounting.
Who should complete the survey?
- Practicing accountants or bookkeepers with or without experience of working online, located anywhere in the world (remember to select your country!)
You can complete the survey at the accountingweb website, where answering the six questions should take no more than three minutes to complete.
I have been concerned for a while now that the 2008 global financial crisis has hurt accounting firms. Recently reading the Good, Bad and Ugly report (a survey of 272 NZ accounting firms) has confirmed to me that accounting firms are indeed hurting – but it’s not because of the financial crisis. It’s because costs are on the rise, and firms are struggling to control them.
Here are four key differences between firms of 2008 and firms of 2012:
- The average fee per client has only dropped $45 per client or 2%.
- Total number of clients per firm is almost the same.
- Total employees per partner has actually dropped 8.3%.
- In spite of this, profit per partner is down. At the median level the profit is down $23K or 10.5%.
So what’s going on? Accounting firms still have the same amount of clients as they did in 2008, they’re charging roughly the same amount per client, and they’re doing it with slightly fewer staff. But profits are still down. Here are a few things that are causing costs to march upwards: Continue reading ›
Guest post by Kirsten Hawke of Business Buddy
At Business Buddy we like to think of accountants and bookkeepers as doctors and nurses. Both are extremely valuable to our clients, and neither would be as effective without the other.
Bookkeepers are like nurses. They take care of daily tasks and have great “bedside” (or deskside) manner. Accountants, on the other hand, are like doctors who diagnose the patient and recommend treatment options. The bookkeeper makes sure the accountant has the best-possible view of the patient’s symptoms while the accountant makes sure everyone’s doing the right thing to make the patient stronger.
How it works
When we bring a new client on Xero, they work with a bookkeeper first. Like a nurse, the bookkeeper does a first assessment and gets clients stable and comfortable. Or, in our case, gets them up and running on Xero. They get bank feeds set up and keep a close eye on our clients for eight weeks to make sure everything’s ticking along the way it should.
UPDATED: Added Sky Business video below
On top of the huge momentum we have both globally and in Australasia at the moment, it’s fantastic to be able to advise that Xero shares are now tradable on the ASX. With this dual listing the same pool of shares are available across both the ASX and NZX.
This is a huge milestone for the company and recognises how important Australia is to the company’s aspirations. We love it when our partners and clients, who have invested so much of their own time and energy into Xero, become shareholders.
Guest post by Ean Murphy, Moxie Bookkeeping, New York
Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath provided a stark reminder of just what a huge role technology plays in our lives – and how helpful it can be in times of crisis.
Having grown up in California, where earthquakes happen with no warning, knowing the storm was coming felt like a luxury. I made sure my insurance was up-to-date, I safeguarded important documents and phone numbers (I keep originals in a mini fire/water proof lockbox and copies of docs in Evernote, for example), and made plans to contact and check in with staff post-disaster to make sure everyone was safe.
Fortunately, this was a smaller job than it has been in the past because most of my data is now kept in the cloud – which is automatically backed up on a regular basis, storm or no storm.
At Xero, we believe the secret to increasing productivity for small businesses is to have them connect with accountants and bookkeepers. That’s why we try to help our bookkeeping and accounting partners land new clients by providing resources like joint marketing campaigns, the Xero Advisors Directory and the Xero Community forum.
Now, we’ve added another tool to the Partners marketing toolbox: Partner banners, which let you advertise your practice for free on every page of www.xero.com. This means that partners don’t have to keep updating their websites as we add new features. Simply pass your customers to us, we keep you at the top of every page, and then we pass them back to you.
Here’s how it works:
Those accounting partners who have reached Bronze status or above have each been assigned a special hyperlink to www.xero.com. Users who click through to xero.com from this link will see a banner ad for that partner at the top of every page. Clicking the banner opens an enquiry form which is then emailed to the partner to follow up.
The 9th Annual US Sleeter Accounting Solutions Conference is over for 2012 but what an event for Xero! This was our second year mingling with the huge range of accounting professionals, consultants, developers, and software application providers that gather to learn about the latest tech innovations in the accounting world.
Over half the attendees are Certified Professional Accountants (CPAs), and attendee firms employ over 5,000 tax and accounting professionals who provide services to over 500,000 businesses.
Adding to the fun, the event was hosted in Anaheim, California just minutes from DisneyLand, so Rod and I had a chance to meet the locals in the flesh – so to speak.
Sleeter was three days of accounting heaven. The first day opening with a bang as we picked up the coveted “Awesome Application Award” for Xero, and closed with a verbal shootout involving Rod on the main stage pitted against Sage and Intuit. Rod outlined a 5-year vision of the accounting industry and the journey that accountants will go for the next few years as the cloud allows them to work alongside their small business customers.
Over the past six months, we’ve been in close contact with Australia’s Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE). As we’ve grown exponentially in Australia, Minister Conroy’s department has shown increasing interest in our leadership role in the uptake of cloud technologies amongst SMEs.
So it was an honour to be invited to attend the Prime Minister’s Forum on the Digital Economy in Sydney, where 40 business leaders presented to Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Taking the stand, the first part of my pitch to the government was to highlight the opportunity to engage accountants and bookkeepers as a potential channel to reach and educate small businesses on the merits of cloud computing and the NBN. In the same way that Xero has been able to grow our business, I wanted to highlight the critical role that the accounting advisor can play in small business. Here is my appearance in the video (9 minutes) or you can watch the original full length video:
I then urged the government to increase investment in development of web services across the many government departments that small business owners need to engage with, rather than simply building compliance websites.