Managing Director Avery Martin Limited
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An accountant’s guide to the Xero Roadshow

17th Nov 2016
Managing Director Avery Martin Limited
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Xero
Xero

Xero brought their Roadshow to Edinburgh on Wednesday, and AccountingWEB’s Glennzy was on the scene to report from the event.

Well, now that I have found myself in the utopian world of being clear of SA returns pretty much for the year, I found myself boarding the train for Edinburgh to catch the latest developments from Xero as their Roadshow arrived in town.

It was good to see an event outside of London and this far North. Coming from Newcastle, the home of Sage, no one feels the need to bother with us, which is maybe a missed opportunity.

I have been keen to attend a Xero event for some time, but I have never found time for the Xerocon event - three days was overkill. This, however, was ideal for a day out of the office. I also had to catch up with a client there, so it was worthy of the trip to meet him and see what all the Xero fuss is about.

I must say, I was pleasantly surprised as I had expected a lot of glitz without much substance. But it was a very well planned out event and its clear Xero do this type of promotion very well.

I got to meet my account manager who was very useful as I was feeling a little unloved. My Xero client numbers are not at a level to “trouble the scorer” so to speak and had felt that they are only really bothered with the big boys. But I came away thinking that was not really the case. She is going to contact me before the weekend to see what she can do to boost my numbers.

The event got underway to a fairly packed audience of probably 200 delegates. Xero’s managing director Gary Turner presented an update of the numbers and what was happening with the product.

The user numbers have certainly moved on a lot with 862,000 worldwide and over 150,000 in UK. They are clearly gaining a lot of traction and regardless of how you feel about their rivals, Xero are clearly romping home in the cloud race, certainly in the UK anyway. The eco system around the core is also outstripping those around them.

In the past, when I have seen Xero make big product announcement, I have often felt they were a touch glitzy to grab headlines but without much practical use. Today I felt that the product is really coming of age and the refinements they are adding are on the things that will make a difference for the accounting side of the relationship.

The new management reporting pack will be good service for clients and will have genuine value as are improvement to “recode entry options” and amendments to chart of accounts to reduce errors. They also discussed the new partner programme which again has clear benefits for those heavily into using Xero, less so for those at the lower end of the scale.

Gary even committed to CIS arriving early next year so I will hold him to account on that one if it doesn’t happen. Fingers crossed for those with construction clients.

Several Xero developers followed Gary and presented live demos of the new amendments. I think I would have been tempted to use video footage as there’s nothing worse than a tech company having tech errors when presenting.

Then, there was much about the future of the profession. Throughout the day it was mentioned that 59% of businesses feel they will not need an accountant in 10 years’ time. However, Xero were quick to remind us that as long as you hook them you will be ok. I cannot help but feel this a bit like a man who has just thrown you in the sea offering to sell you a life jacket, but never mind, I got the picture.

There was great guy from Apple who also went through what they were developing which was like watching “tomorrows world” and is really quite scary what is possible or in development.

The event was rounded off with a panel of Xero success stories; three different practices who adopted the Xero model and its clearly working for. I find it good to put a face to a true testimonial and it was a well thought out strategy.

The day ended with a few drinks and networking which again is good to make a few new contacts.

Summary

Overall I found the event very useful and pitched at the right level for those at various stages of their Xero journey. Anyone who previously did not fancy the full Xerocon should certainly make the effort to attend a roadshow near them.

Any small practice who has clients looking to grow beyond sole traders need to be involved with Xero at some level, whether that’s 100% Xero practice or as part of a two/three product offering. Sitting outside the Xero camp totally will ultimately cost you work and lose you clients.

I think the three to four hours duration was the right length of time.

My only criticism about this event and Accoutex is that the add-on community does not get the best opportunity to present their products. They have a one-person podium, and there was, say, ten podiums with 200 delegates - which doesn’t really work.

Perhaps in future Xero could extend it to an all day event and have some break out areas so you can fully appreciate some of the new apps and add ons.

A good add on for me was Simpro which is an end to end package for construction management which takes you from pricing and estimates to job costing and labour management. It’s a great tool for those who run a multi-site project. I will follow up with Simpro for my construction clients.

* * *

Xero Roadshow – Well worth the cost of the rail fare.

Day out of the office for some thinking time – priceless

Highlight of the day – Meeting fellow Geordies Blu-sky Accountancy. What a great bunch of lads who are building a fantastic practice. Watch out for them - you will be hearing a lot more from them.

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Replies (4)

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bike
By FirstTab
17th Nov 2016 16:58

Thanks Glennzy. Helpful report.

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Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
17th Nov 2016 20:57

Good report Glennzy. I'm with your way of thinking with Xero.

I was hoping to attend the London roadshow but its been sold out each of the last 2 times I've been interested in attending.

Thanks (1)
bike
By FirstTab
17th Nov 2016 21:31

Have QuickBooks and Sage practices backed the wrong horse?

Where does all this leave ClearBooks and FreeAgent? They do not have the huge marketing budget that Xero has.

I am pleased we have adopted Xero for our practice. Potential clients I met know about it. Some have even joined my practice since their accountant is not using Xero.

Will Xero be the new Sage? Looks that way.

By the way, lets not forget Turner with his hand on his heart, did say that Xero final accounts is on its way. This was a few years back. CIS? Come on! Stick with the first promise please and then move on to the new one.

Thanks (1)
Glenn Martin
By Glenn Martin
17th Nov 2016 23:00

Hi FT

I think it pays to offer a few packages. I have put a contractor package together which uses Freeagent. It is brilliant for contractors as it has the tax predictor built in as often contractors just spend the money as its net pay at that function is great in educating clients. I think that as it a specialist package free agent has a market of its own.

Realistically Xero could end up with 400,000+ users in the run up to MTD so if you don't offer you will miss out on the lions share of the market.

The North East is probably the most depressed area in the country yes within about 10 miles of me there are 4 firms that were new startups 4 0r 5 years ago are now 20+ staff firms with over 1000 clients each. That sort of growth in accountancy has historically been impossible, but they have all done it with Xero at its core.

Whilst I don't fully understand how this is possible with a single product that basically does what all the others do, just maybe a bit better you also cannot go on ignoring it as the numbers don't lie.

Thanks (5)