Receipt Bank CEO plots new advisory course
Receipt Bank CEO Adrian Blair tells John Stokdyk how the recent acquisition of Xavier will fuel the developer’s mission to become the software foundation for accountants who want to do more advisory work.
“What we’re building is the essential software stack for accountants who are serious about advisory work,” said Receipt Bank’s CEO when asked about the rationale behind the recent Xavier deal.
The acquisition came as a surprise when the world was in the middle of the Covid-19 lockdown, but some of the pressures stimulated by the crisis were a factor in Receipt Bank’s strategy.
“If you want to be really relevant to small business clients, it’s not by doing tax returns,” said Blair. “Clients need help with much more business-critical stuff, like what to do when they run out of money. If practitioners are serious about advisory, we’re the company that can provide the essential suite of software to do it.”
As well as handling bookkeeping automation, Blair positions Receipt Bank as a remote working tool. “Your client can use our app to submit their paperwork to you rather than submitting it in a big plastic bag,” he said.
“Being forced into working from home is another reason why the product is so essential - a number of firms have adopted Receipt Bank because of that element.”
In response to the increased demand, the developer has been working hard to increase the accuracy of its data extraction as well as adding Xavier’s data quality tools to the suite.
More added-value work
Blair has been CEO at Receipt Bank for 18 months now, having joined from his previous role as chief operating officer at online food delivery specialist JustEat. “We worked with 100,000 takeaway customers around the world; they were very good at making food but needed help with finance,” he said.
“Rather than just dealing with tax and accounts, accountants can make a huge difference to small business owners like that. I saw that Receipt Bank was an amazing way to streamline and automate bookkeeping processes that saves huge amounts of time. Because there’s an app in the hand of your client, it gets you information about them in real-time. And because it gives you time and information, it gives you the ability to do more advisory.”
Blair described the Xavier acquisition as the “next step” towards that objective. “It includes all clients and shows any KPI for all of them in one place. If you want to manage a portfolio of clients, it’s an amazingly powerful tool.”
As Xavier user Glenn Martin highlighted at the time of the acquisition, Receipt Bank feeds the information into accounting ledgers and Xavier pulls the data out to of Xero to provide deeper insights.
“That’s the wonderful thing about APIs. This is what they should be,” said Blair. “The products are extremely complimentary and many customers use both. The two client views they offer serve different purposes. The Receipt Bank Practice Platform gives you insight to your bookkeeping process, while the Xavier dashboard gives you deep financial KPIs on all your clients. Those are both things you won’t find in Xero HQ or in the QuickBooks Online Accountant dashboard.”
As Blair acknowledged, the big cloud accounting platforms are dabbling with cashflow forecasting and UK compliance tools, not to mention expenses capture. Was his new advisory stack strategy devised to offset the squeeze on Receipt Bank’s core territory?
“I don’t accept the premise of the question. Going beyond bookkeeping is not repositioning, but extending what we do. We work with 10,000 practices and 400,000 businesses. We can do so much more for them than bookkeeping automation. We want to be the essential software to power the shift from compliance to advisory and we’re working closely with the accounting software companies on that.
“We don’t want to become Xero or QuickBooks ourselves.”
Nevertheless, since the Xavier acquisition, Receipt Bank has been looking at different ways to bring the apps together and new functional areas to support accountants - including more analytic capabilities.
“We’re interested in understanding what advisory services accountants are providing to their small business clients and what’s essential for them to provide their services,” said Blair.
“We’ve only owned Xavier for a few weeks, but there’s a lot more we think we can do to increase bookkeeping productivity and support advisory work.”
When pressed on what the integrated features might look like, Blair shied away from mentioning specifics, but promised, “We will have at least one new product to release later this year.”
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