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How switching to Xero boosted efficiency for accountants at Base52

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Flaka Jasari

May 19, 2020

Base52 is a friendly team of Hitchin-based chartered accountants that specialise in helping small limited businesses get their taxes in order. Over the last 17 years, Base52’s managing director, Fred McBreen, has grown the firm to support 175 local businesses and more than 300 individuals, sole traders, and partnership businesses in and around Hertfordshire.  

The move to Xero

Base52 provides an end-to-end service, taking care of bookkeeping and payroll through year-end and advisory clients on their business financials. Before making the switch to Xero, they were using another accounting software package, but after several years of double-digit growth, the business had plateaued. It was increasingly difficult for the firm to integrate new clients, and the roles within the team were overly narrow. That’s when Fred read Will Farnell’s book, ‘The Digital Firm’. 

The book inspired Fred to take the next step, and he reached out to Will on LinkedIn. Will was happy to run a workshop, and Base52’s leadership left with the plans for a radical overhaul of their structure and processes. First on the list was making the move to Xero. “Once we understood what Xero could do, the potential productivity gains and the value it adds for clients, it was a no-brainer,” says Fred.

The team was on board, and within a month, they were all using Xero. Base52 started with the most straightforward clients and have since transferred more than a hundred to Xero – and it has significantly boosted the firm’s efficiency. 

Life since the switch

Bookkeeping operations with Xero are now significantly faster for Base52 than before, freeing up precious time. Whereas the firm previously relied upon monthly or quarterly batch processing, they now use Receipt Bank’s integration with Xero, and bank feeds for automated, real-time data. 

Accountants at Base52 now have more time for strategic work or can take on additional clients. Meanwhile, clients benefit from less time collating data and a faster turnaround on management information. 

Fred is also considering ways that Base52 can improve the experience for its clients. They already have their own management accounts pack with a customised dashboard. However, the switch to Xero provided them with the opportunity to add more accurate and up-to-date information. 

For businesses considering making the switch to Xero, Fred advises them to consider the structure and processes as well as the software. He says that getting expert help from someone like Will Farnell can also save you headaches, and advises businesses making the change to make full use of their Xero account manager. “Ours has been fantastic,” Fred adds, “They’ve really helped us to move forward with things.”

Productivity in a pandemic 

Base52’s move to Xero nine months ago has put them in a good place to weather the changes brought about by COVID-19. Fred says that the shift to entirely remote work would have been far more challenging if they still relied on paper processes, but since they use cloud-based systems, they can continue their work as normal for the most part. 

Before the lockdown, Base52 had just increased its office space, and they haven’t been able to use it. When they do return, Fred says the business will be much more flexible about working from home. 

Visit our dedicated site for more inspirational stories, webinars and resources to help you navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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