Guest Post by Josh Zweig, principal of LiveCA: Canada’s first online accounting firm that enables mobile entrepreneurs to connect directly to a Chartered Accountant wherever, whenever.
It’s not really what you want to hear from your accountant at the end of the year. Unfortunately, many business owners live in fear of such a response every billing season.
The billable hour has long been the holy grail of the accounting industry – put your head down, do the work, then punch the clock and send the invoice. How the work is done is irrelevant; the client is simply charged for the hours it takes to get the work done.
But as business owners around the world become more conscious of just what it is they’re paying for, the focus is moving to the ‘how you get the work done’ part of the equation. In Australia, for example, a number of CPA firms offer pricing that’s based on the value of the work rather than the time spent on it — fixed fees, monthly plans and even transparent prices on their website. Currently, Canadian business owners would be hard pressed to get an accurate estimate from their accountant, let alone fixed fees.
Read more about Business
This week I’m at Apple’s big event of the year – the World Wide Developer Conference in San Francisco. Yesterday’s keynote introduced the next major release of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 7.
Following the unexpectedly rapid departure of Scott Forstall as the Senior Vice President of iOS Software at Apple last October, speculation had been mounting that significant changes were in the air for iOS 7, which is exactly what we got.
Most obviously, iOS 7 takes a radically different visual design approach from the previous iterations of the operating system, which until now could be considered on the more skeuomorphic end of the spectrum. That is, the visual design reflected highly detailed graphics simulating real world objects, to give users hints and clues as to how a particular app was to be used. For example buttons had outlines, gradients, and shadows, just like real world mechanical buttons, providing a familiar cue to users that it was a button, which could therefore be tapped, and would perform a given action.
Read more about Developers
Over the past six weeks we’ve spoken to a number of accounting firms as well as experts on the topic of a virtual CFO. While the notion of helping clients remotely or virtually has been around for some time, we continue to hear more about firms moving up the value chain and offering higher value-add services to their clients.
What is a Virtual CFO?
Throughout our conversations the following definitions stood out:
- A Virtual CFO plays the CFO role on a part-time business for a fraction of the cost of a full-time CFO
- A Virtual CFO cares about the health and well-being of the business
- A Virtual CFO acts as a sounding board and provides financial sanity
A Virtual CFO is essentially a financial advisor. Someone that becomes a trusted source for financial perspective at a fraction of the cost of a full-time CFO.
Read more about Accountants
Guest post by Paul Pettit, Director, Curtis McLean Chartered Accounts, Wellington
As a “big” small practice with a team of 35 based in Xero’s backyard, we like to think we’re on top of the technology game. We’ve spent the last three years understanding the incredible shifts in our sector, re-aligning our offer and helping clients get on board with cloud accounting. Last week we launched a new website for our accounting practice to reflect that technology-focused positioning.
The process we went through in developing our new positioning told us there’s something we can offer clients beyond compliance and business advisory services. We should be helping clients take up new technology beyond Xero – or perhaps more correctly – from within the rapidly developing ecosystem of apps that integrate with Xero.
Xero is a hugely positive “Trojan Horse”. Its simplicity and beauty surprises everyone and, because of that, it breaks down the wall of fear that clients have around cloud technology. Familiarization with Xero means clients are more ready to look at technology – to “add-on” new apps. We’re the ones who should be driving clients to them!
There is a useful analogy to consider here. Smartphone operating systems thrive because there’s an ecosystem of apps developed by others. Apps that integrate seamlessly with the OS and give practical (or entertainment) value to users.
Our UK team had a great couple of days at Accountex, the UK’s only national accounting exhibition and conference, in London last week where, over Thursday and Friday, we directly engaged with several hundred business owners, accountants and bookkeepers and our beautiful stand left thousands more in no doubt as to our growing technological footprint in the UK market. Accountex has only been running for a couple of years but after something of a drought in the accounting and finance exhibition sector, it has quickly become the premier annual event for everything accounting in the UK. So, this year we pushed the boat out a little and ensured Xero had a great presence.
Over the course of two days our Xero island played host to hundreds of interested onlookers, accountants, bookkeepers and happy customers, keen to say “Hi”. The vibe was excellent.
Aside from the team delivering almost 30 live Xero walkthroughs over the two days and the many one-to-one chats, the over-arching theme for me was ‘Game Changers’.
Xero sponsors the Young Enterprise Trust (YET), an orgnisation that helps to inspire, educate and transform secondary school students through business enterprise experiences.
For the first time, accounting software leader Xero is proud to be one of the hosts in the annual New Zealand Enterprise in Action weekend. This is an event combining two challenges – the Global Enterprise Challenge (GEC), an online international enterprise skills challenge, and the New Zealand heat of the FedEx/Junior Achievement International Trade Challenge (ITA), which helps students prepare for the future. For the first time, Xero will be actively involved in mentoring New Zealand’s next generation of entrepreneurs.
“The GEC is an international online enterprise skills competition for high school students. It gives students the opportunity to develop their knowledge and experience of enterprise and business, by providing an environment where they can apply skills and improve their understanding in practical ways.”
BoxFreeIT has published a great interview with Yodlee’s Joe Polverari on bank feeds and Yodlee’s role in the US market.
There’s a lot of misinformation about the safety of Yodlee and the technology behind it so it’s great to see them come out and dispel some of the myths about how they work. Fears and doubts about Yodlee have long been quelled in the US – where Yodlee and products like it are the standard for aggregation services across the US banking system. Yodlee also happens to be the best at what they do.
In New Zealand and Australia, Xero has direct relationships with all the major financial institutions and a lot of the minor ones. If you have a small business banking account in Australasia, chances are we have a direct feed for you. Long term we believe direct feeds are the right way to go and we’re excited that banks are beginning to provide more elegant ways to get your banking data into our online accounting system. But it does take time to get them to move.
If banks do not provide direct feeds we use our partner Yodlee. We do this primarily in the US but also in the UK market. We offer Yodlee as an option in New Zealand and Australia where a financial institution has has not yet been able to provide data directly to us, but this is the exception rather than the rule. Yodlee feeds generally work well and we’re glad to offer them.
Our Australian roadshow in May, ‘Your Practice on Xero’, was a real buzz, with a great family feeling amongst our partners. Gold Partners were more than willing to share their war stories and lessons learned with the 1,800 attendees, demonstrating the incredible community that exists around Xero’s cloud accounting community.
We travelled to five cities in five days and split the content into separate streams for accountants and bookkeepers, tailoring it for each audience. Partners loved this, appreciating that we recognize the difference between the channels and work to provide relevant content. David New and Wayne Schmidt, Our National Sales Managers for Accountants and Bookkeepers respectively, were the hosts.
The majority of accountants in attendance were still very early in their Xero journey. Their clear and overriding sentiment was that all around the country they can’t wait to leave behind the frustration of working with desktop accounting software. Gold Partners were grilled for guidance on how to move both their clients and their practice to the cloud. The big questions were around change management, both for clients but also their own internal staff, and how best to embrace the ever growing ecosystem of add-on products that integrate with Xero.
Last night in Melbourne, Xero’s innovative, integrated payroll product was awarded the Financial iAward in Victoria, which is presented to the most innovative ICT solution offered to the financial industry.
The iAwards honour both companies at the cutting edge of technology innovation as well as leading professionals across the ICT industry. Most importantly, the iAwards recognise the achievements of home-grown Australian innovators.
The key goal of the iAwards is to discover, recognise and reward the ICT innovations that have the potential to, or are already having, a positive impact on the community – at home, in the office and on a global scale. The iAwards also recognise the achievements made and value added by ICT professionals, CIOs and innovators.
Over the last few years, Commonwealth Bank and Suncorp have been the recipients of the National Financial iAward, so taking out the final on August 8 will be no easy task. In true Xero style though, here’s the engine room of Payroll, well about six of them anyway, located in Canberra, fuelling up for another day’s work and celebrating their hard work!
QuoteRoller is a Xero Add-on that helps small businesses create polished, professional proposals quickly and easily. Creating, sending and tracking sales quotes and proposals is all done online through the QuoteRoller application.
Once sent to your client, they can review, sign and accept proposals right away.
Who is it for?
Whether it’s the time saving features of quickly generating professional proposals, or the advanced features such as in-proposal analytics, QuoteRoller will have advantages for businesses that rely on proposals to generate sales.