“Xero Fuss”: The Impact of Cloud Accounting

Scott Lavery, Director, Austin Rose Associates


I would like to think that, as a firm, we value innovation and embrace new technology. Our online HR system revolutionised many of our annual leave, appraisal and performance management processes. So, when our accountant recommended a new online accounting system, I didn’t take a great deal of persuading. 

I had started out on Excel, as it seemed a natural way to manage my accounts but it soon became clear that there was little control in this method, and so we migrated over to Sage. Whilst the clarity and detail this process created gave us comfort that we were accounting properly, the fact that we were always a month behind ourselves meant that the analysis of our accounts always held limited value. Thus, our accountant’s promise of a system with increased visibility, access, and speed of processing was an exciting one. His chosen system, as has been the case recently with many of our clients, was Xero. Since its inception in 2006, Xero has attracted more than 700,000 worldwide subscribers and everything we have seen in the market suggests that this will continue to grow rapidly. The interface is clean and easy to navigate, the automation of the bank feeds was highly appealing, and the fact that there was an app that I could use from my phone to access my accounts meant I was sold. A relatively smooth migration, and a few hours spent setting up the bank feeds to recognise our suppliers and where they should appear on our P&L, meant we were ready to go. We haven’t looked back!

If I take a candidate for a coffee I can upload the receipt before the Barista has had time to make my latte (undoubtedly, this little race appeals to my competitive side!). Each morning our bank sends the previous day’s transactions to Xero and, as long as I am on top of my receipts, the majority of these are recognised automatically and merely require a confirmation to be processed. Each morning at home I spend a minute or so approving the transactions on my phone, and by the time I leave for work my accounts are completely up to date – it’s practically real time! As the cherry on the cake, Xero gives you a big green tick on the screen and a little “well done” message. It’s a very positive way to start the day!


Xero business?

Whilst driving to work and feeling rather contented that my accounting life is fully under control, it did occur to me that what is great for my business internally may well lead to some real challenges externally. We are a supplier of candidates to the accountancy practice market. Bookkeepers, management accountants, accountants, auditors, tax specialists – the list is a long one.
So how many of these roles will disappear, given the automation of the compliance processes that have historically been the domain, and the income, of our clients in the accountancy market? Certainly it would appear that the need for bookkeepers would diminish, and would the accessibility of the accounts online lead to more of the accounts processing being outsourced overseas?

You can see from our current range of bookkeeping and management accounts roles, that there are plenty of positions in London within the outsourcing departments of accountancy firms, many of which focus on Xero. The questions we will be posing to our clients who specialise in this area over the coming weeks will include: 

  • How will the use of cloud accounting, in particular Xero, change your service offering to your clients? 
  • Will the automation and accessibility offered by these cloud systems change your staffing levels and where you locate them in the future?
  • What are the opportunities and threats to the accountancy practice market from accounting packages such as Xero?

Should you wish to comment on the above or are keen to find out what the wider market feels about the subject of cloud accounting, please feel free to contact Scott Lavery at Austin Rose.


Wednesday Jan 4, 2017