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No Accounting for Tech ep10: Dext CEO Sabby Gill on MTD, pricing and future plans

Accounting tech stalwart Sabby Gill joins the AccountingWEB podcast this week to outline his views on the government’s delay to MTD ITSA, the tricky line growing SaaS companies have to tread when it comes to pricing their services, and where he hopes to take the company over the coming years.

22nd Feb 2023
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Dext works with more than 11,000 accountants and bookkeepers, with more than a million users on the platform, which provides ‘pre-accounting’ services such as data extraction, bill and invoice processing.

Gill joined Dext in October 2022, and brings 34 years of experience in the technology sector, including time at Sage as their UK & Ireland General Manager, and spells at Oracle, HP and PeopleSoft. 

He told AccountingWEB technology editor Tom Herbert that he has his sights set on expanding the tech firm on several fronts. Backed by private equity house Hg Capital, Dext has expanded into the North American market where it has grown through several acquisitions, including e-commerce platform Greenback (now Dext Commerce). 

But Gill also has plans to grow the company in the UK. He referred to research conducted by Dext that over the next couple of years, close to 350,000 new small businesses will form because of the current macroeconomic conditions, which play to the vendor’s growing strength in the SME market.

“You only have to go back and look at history, at anything that happened in the financial crisis,” said Gill. “It wasn’t the really large organisations that continued to hire more people. It was small organisations coming out with different business models being disruptive that really started to build the global economy. Small business owners make the difference for major economies and for us that’s a massive opportunity.”

In November 2022, Dext announced a solution for accountants and bookkeepers to submit directly to HMRC on behalf of self-employed and landlord clients under the Making Tax Digital for income tax self assessment (MTD ITSA) regime.

However, just over two weeks later the Treasury slammed the breaks on the project, delaying it until 2026 and increasing the minimum income reporting level.

While frustrating for the firm and its team who had worked on the project, Gill was philosophical about the postponement. “I would rather that they delayed it than continued on the path they were on,” he said. “There was no way it was going to work and we all knew that. There was just so much uncertainty, so many questions unanswered, and that was the biggest concern for all the major software vendors.”

According to Gill, Dext will continue to emphasise the benefits of digital transformation, preparing customers for MTD ITSA whenever it arrives.

The pod discussion also touched on the tricky line that fast-growing SaaS companies have to tread when it comes to pricing their services, and new products and services arriving in the next year.

Background reading for the podcast:

Podcast written and hosted by Tom Herbert and produced by Will Cole.

Replies (2)

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By ABC12
22nd Feb 2023 10:56

"preparing customers for MTD ITSA whenever it arrives."
Ah, bless, living life as a dreamer

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By Hugo Fair
23rd Feb 2023 15:51

If Gill was philosophical about the postponement (of MTD ITSA):
“I would rather that they delayed it than continued on the path they were on,” he said. “There was no way it was going to work and we all knew that. There was just so much uncertainty, so many questions unanswered, and that was the biggest concern for all the major software vendors.”

In which case why were they (the major software vendors) happy to keep pushing the message in their advertising until the very last second?

Rhetorical I guess ... but it was very short-sighted, as the damage to their reputation (for honesty and reliability) may be irreparable.

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