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Xerocon 2024
Tom Herbert

Xerocon 24: Xero unveils partnership tax, payroll and AI solutions

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Cloud accounting platform Xero used its London conference to announce a raft of new products including a partnership tax tool, integrated practice management and tax solution, and a new payroll manager and also lifted the lid on its much-anticipated generative AI assistant.

12th Jun 2024
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Xero kicked off its London 2024 show by announcing a range of new features to the cloud accounting platform, with the ultimate goal of becoming the UK’s most powerful accounting platform.

Speaking at her first London Xerocon since taking the reins at Xero last year, CEO Sukhinder Singh Cassidy praised the strength of the Xero community and called the company a leader in global cloud accounting.

She told delegates that since her appointment she has focussed on resetting the company’s vision and goals, making targeted investment decisions and offering more value to customers. She also directly addressed the recent changes to Xero’s pricing plans that will be rolled out in September 2024.

“We want to give customers more value by simplifying our offering and bundling more value,” said Singh Cassidy. “We want customers to discover more Xero features and in the long term, make it easier for advisers to recommend the right packages to clients.”

Diya Jolly, chief product and technology officer at Xero, told attendees that the developer is purposely innovating in three main areas: core accounting, payments and payroll, and will leverage the platform’s ecosystem for other areas.

Partnership tax and AI tech

Available for beta testing in July 2024, Xero’s partnership tax solution will allow accountants and bookkeepers to prepare partnership annual accounts and tax using Xero data and file partnership tax returns with HMRC. The system will offer the SA800 form and supplementary pages, and provide a simplified intuitive process to submit to HMRC. 

The partnership tax tool comes as part of the Xero Tax package. First launched at the developer’s Xerocon 2019 show, Xero Tax offers a range of personal and corporate tax preparation and filing tools, and is available at no extra cost to accountants and bookkeepers on the Xero partner programme

The developer also revealed more details about its much-anticipated generative AI (GenAI) product Just Ask Xero (JAX). First announced in March 2024, JAX is Xero’s proprietary GenAI model that will enable users to interact with the system via natural language prompts to start, add to or complete accounting-related tasks and generate insights based on customer data.

Available for beta testing in August 2024, accountants, bookkeepers and business customers will be able to use JAX to complete tasks like generating an invoice or editing a quote, either in Xero or other commonly used apps and devices that businesses use day-to-day, such as mobile, WhatsApp and email.

Practice management and tax system

Xero used its flagship user conference to launch testing of a new integrated practice management and tax solution for UK accountants and bookkeepers via its Xero Practice Manager (XPM) system. 

Trailed at the company’s UK roadshows in November 2023, the integrated solution connects tax compliance with practice management, enabling advisers to see all client obligations, manage workflows and improve job tracking and prioritisation from one location. 

The development takes Xero closer to its ambition of a single client record across all its practice tools, reducing the need to rekey information. Advisers will also be able to add and manage their practice staff across Xero HQ and XPM, eliminating the need to manage staff access into multiple places in Xero. The new practice management and tax solution is available for testing today, with a full public launch scheduled for later this year. 

Xero Payroll: New dashboard and enhancements

Xerocon delegates got a first look at payroll manager, a new dashboard in XPM and Xero HQ which enables accountants and bookkeepers to view payroll data across a practice’s clients in one place.

Currently in beta testing, the payroll manager will provide advisers with a consolidated view of client pay runs, making it simpler to identify clients whose payroll needs attention for upcoming pay runs. 

The software house also announced several enhancements to its core Xero Payroll product to increase the flexibility and accuracy of pay runs. When the updates are fully live, the product will support non-traditional working hours such as four-day work weeks, simplify employee pensions setup with an additional guidance wizard to reduce errors and increased flexibility to edit and update fields, and allow users to align their payroll leave period to their financial or operational periods. 

Expanded payments options

Xero also announced it will be the first major accounting platform to offer Tap to Pay in the UK and Australia via a partnership with fintech provider Stripe, enabling businesses to accept payments on the spot from their Xero Accounting app. Once payments have been made, they will be automatically reconciled within Xero.

Available to UK Android users via a beta program in August with more platforms to come later in the year, the new contactless payment method for Xero invoicing offers small businesses more options to accept different types of payments. Customers will need to set up an account with Stripe before activating on the Xero platform. 

In addition to the Tap to Pay, Xero will also use its Stripe partnership to offer bank transfer and buy now pay later options, in addition to credit cards, debit cards, and digital wallets currently available.

Jolly also flagged the recently introduced capability to manage, approve and pay clients’ bills from within Xero via a partnership with fintech provider Crezco.

More client insights

Xero previewed client insights, a new dashboard which offers accountants and bookkeepers visibility of clients’ metrics and financial health. 

Available now for beta testing in XPM and Xero HQ, client insights will flag client data such as business health, profit and expenses across the practice, enabling advisors to quickly identify clients in need of support and better target advisory services.

Replies (9)

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Stepurhan
By stepurhan
12th Jun 2024 12:23

I think customers would get "more value" by Xero not increasing their prices so much in September. Adding on a load of features users have not asked for is not adding value if they lead to price increases whether they are used or not.

They also need to ensure current products work as they should first as well. I did use Xero's accounts preparation module briefly, but have reverted to external systems after it produced a set of accounts with a balance sheet that did not agree to the Xero records. At the time, Xero could not cope with the possibility that a balance could be a debtor one year and a creditor the next. It dealt with the issue by treating the balance as a debit in both years, and fudging the reserves to make the balance sheet balance.

Thanks (6)
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
12th Jun 2024 13:23

I cant recommend Xero to new clients now due to te very high price, and way above inflation trajectory. The business case is being rapidly erroded.

95% of our clients use only the basic functionality and have little use for the 'fancy stuff'.

This is classic bloat ware in action. Just because it can be done, does not mean it should be done.

If they had a basic version for £12/month with the basic bank feeds and accounting functionality (unrestricted on transactions) I would have another 50 clients on it. Most clients just dont want it to be linked to payments on line and all the rest of it.

Thanks (11)
Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
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By johnthegood
13th Jun 2024 07:43

ireallyshouldknowthisbut wrote:

If they had a basic version for £12/month with the basic bank feeds and accounting functionality (unrestricted on transactions) I would have another 50 clients on it. Most clients just dont want it to be linked to payments on line and all the rest of it.

Same here

Thanks (1)
Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
TidyCloud Logo
By TidyCloud Accounting
13th Jun 2024 21:39

My thoughts exactly on the bundles. Most clients want the basics to work and aren't interested in the add ons.

It wouldn't feel as bad if they offered the 50%/60% accountant discounts that QB & Sage offer for their plans.

I'm not as keen on QB but I think it will probably suit more clients for basic needs.

Thanks (1)
Danny Kent
By Viciuno
12th Jun 2024 14:35

Agree with the above. Xero has lost it's way.

So much of it's functionality is fundamentally broken once you scratch the surface.

I've recently started using Hubdoc for a charity client (that doesn't want to pay for Dext) and quite frankly it's appalling but we are "making do". I'd have thought after buying it that they would at least attempt to make the program a seamless integration to Xero.

Thanks (3)
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By FactChecker
12th Jun 2024 19:16

And this year's Non Sequitur Award goes to ...

She also directly addressed the recent changes to Xero’s pricing plans that will be rolled out in September 2024.
“We want to give customers more value by simplifying our offering and bundling more value,” said Singh Cassidy. “We want customers to discover more Xero features and in the long term, make it easier for advisers to recommend the right packages to clients.”

Lesson 1: 'more value' is only achieving via 'bundling' IF the purchaser *wants* all the items being bundled.
Otherwise at best you're being given stuff you don't want - at worst you can no longer find the bits you wanted underneath all the fluffy crap you don't need.

Lesson 2: a 'bundle' only really gives 'more value' if you (the purchaser) select the items you want and then get a discount on the summed price of all those chosen items.

Thanks (8)
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By paulwakefield1
13th Jun 2024 07:53

Not to mention that there are many requests for some pretty basic features which Xero have stated they do not intend to implement even though those requests have received many multiples of the 107 votes that Xero described in their blog as a "highly requested product idea".

Thanks (3)
ALISK
By atleastisoundknowledgable...
13th Jun 2024 09:12

So the big question - where are we taking all our small clients that just need the basics? I hate QB (far too slow moving between screens), so Sage I guess?

Thanks (3)
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By indomitable
13th Jun 2024 15:32

Xero have increasingly annoyed me, although we have alot clients on Xero

They have this 'happy clappy' attitude that thinks everyone is in their Xero fanclub! What a load of nonsense.

They are a software supplier not a 'cult'

Definitely losing their way, bring out modules that are rubbish in my view - payroll, accounts productions, workflow max, expenses, hubdoc- all rubbish

Core bookkeeping system pretty good but becoming too expensive when you can get Freeagent FREE with a Natwest account and as a partner I get at least a 50% discount.

And XEROCON! Oh please wouldn't go if you paid me

Thanks (4)