We were delighted to be able to attend the Xero Roadshow on Wednesday, 21st March at The Cube in Birmingham. The aim was to get up to speed with the latest innovations from Xero to drive efficiency for ourselves and our clients ahead of Making Tax Digital. And the day certainly didn’t disappoint. We heard key insights from Xero’s brand new 2018 accounting and bookkeeping industry report, the latest product features and updates, information about Xero HQ and the HQ practice apps and how to prepare for Making Tax Digital. In this post, we summarise some of the key learning points from the day.
Xero surveyed more than 900 Xero accounting and bookkeeping partners across the UK to gauge their practice performance. This is what they found:
- More than 200,000 small businesses switched to a new accountant in 2017
- Firms grow faster and grow revenue with more clients online
- Offering advisory services dramatically increases practice revenue per client
You can download a copy of the full report here.
In Xero HQ gives you real-time visibility of all your clients, as well as timely alerts about their most urgent requirements, and the ability to connect with practice apps. In the past twelve months, Xero HQ has been enhanced even further.
My Xero Partner Edition
The My Xero Partner Edition features have been moved over into Xero HQ and improved. You can now also choose whether to set the activity feed or the client list as the default login page in Xero HQ.
You can still access My Xero Partner Edition if you need to by selecting ‘My Xero’ from the drop-down menu where you can access your client list, staff and billing features. ‘Billing and subscriptions’ remain within My Xero Partner Edition.
From this week, ‘Ask’ will be available in Xero HQ to all practice users. This is a new feature that is a simple way to collect information from clients in order to get compliance work completed accurately and on time. With Ask, you can create your request for clients, adding in sections and tips to help clients find the information you are looking for. You can send the query directly from Ask and schedule reminders for follow-up. You can give your client a deadline and their responses are automatically saved as they complete the request. This means that you can check your client’s progress in Ask at a glance.
Staff Visibility Across Clients
There is a new staff feature in Xero HQ that gives you complete control over what your individual staff members can access in Xero HQ – for example, whether they can only view or are able to edit clients records. Furthermore, the default client visibility settings for all staff members have been updated. These include the Xero organisations they have access to and any client records they have been assigned to in Xero HQ.
Xero Projects lets you track the time and money you spend on each project and you can keep track of your project financials from anywhere.
You can track how much time you have spent on tasks, assign bills and expenses and record deposits. This way you can keep a track of budgets.
Easily create accurate invoices based on the project information contained in Xero Projects, based on time and resources used.
Real-time tracking in Xero Projects gives you the insight you need to monitor project performance. This helps you to budget more accurately and decide when to invoice.
Xero Expenses helps accountants and their clients to easily handle their expense claims and to keep the whole process paperless. You take photos of your receipts and an expense claim is automatically generated in Xero.
Xero Expenses also provides you with reports to help you better understand your spending patterns.
Marketing with BOMA
BOMA is a marketing app for accountants and bookkeepers. With BOMA, you don’t need any marketing or creative skills to create online advertising campaigns, email or social media campaigns from a desktop or mobile.
You can either use your own images or choose images from BOMA’s extensive library. BOMA then formats your content for each channel you have selected, targets your audience and schedules your content to go out at the optimal time. BOMA also learns about your audience and has in-built analytics and to suggest new ideas and better ways to engage with your audience.
Making Tax Digital
From April 2019, the new Making Tax Digital (MTD) legislation will require businesses that are above the VAT threshold to set up a digital tax account and file quarterly returns online. Businesses will need to use software to submit their tax returns and preparing for this starts with managing business accounts online. Xero has consulted with HMRC and is committed to making the transition to MTD seamless and more business efficient, while supporting small businesses and their advisors throughout the process.
For accountants, MTD means:
- You will need to educate your business clients
- You will also need to see your clients more frequently, which could change how you deliver and charge for services
- Clients will be relying on you for advice about which software to use and may rely on you to help set it up
To prepare for MTD, accountants are therefore advised to:
- Train staff in the requirements of MTD so that they can answer client questions
- Decide how you will deliver and charge for your services. More regular submission means smaller packages of work more often.
- Prepare information for clients on what you will need from them to file on time.
- Think about how MTD will affect cash flow and keep track of spending patterns.
- Think about how MTD will affect workflow. With busy times less intense and fewer quiet times, it could change your staffing.
- Prepare clients. Most businesses know very little about MTD and it is never too soon to start talking about it and breaking it down into plain English for them.
- Think about software. Familiarise yourself with the software solutions available, for both you and your clients, and check that they can support online filing with the HMRC.
Other topics discussed included Xero migration certification, GDPR, CIS functionality within Xero, Workflowmax and two-step authentication. As usual a wonderful Xero event, and we are very much looking forward to Xerocon again, which takes place this year on 14th – 15th November at ExCel in London. For information about last year’s Xerocon, click here.