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Interview with Xero’s Head Honcho

May 31 2011 by Peter Czapp


Wow interview Xero’s UK Managing Director, Gary Turner 

Why should small businesses be paying attention to Online Accountancy?

In the past, choice was quite restricted; jump in at the deep end and go the Sage route and bear the considerable cost of buying, and the challenge of learning, quite a complex product, or just keep a simple financial log in a spreadsheet. Online alternatives like Xero are the first to enable all small businesses to get the required control and visibility of their business finances without either the upfront cost or annual upgrade charges and without unnecessary complexity.

For those out there that don’t know about Xero, describe what it can do in 7 words or less?

Xero makes you LOVE bookkeeping!

Tell us about the 3 coolest things that Xero does that makes people’s lives easier?

1. Xero’s ability to automatically draw in your banking transactions every day means that simply by logging into Xero every morning, you get a live and accurate picture of your cashflow, debtors payments and cash position. It makes doing bank reconciliations a 10 minute job every day rather than stockpiling statements until the end of the month, or longer.

2. Automated invoicing is amazing. You set up your billing schedule by customer and Xero will automatically raise and e-mail your invoices off to your clients. Even when you’re asleep.

3. The ability to run Xero on a phone like a BlackBerry or iPhone means if you have 20 minutes of downtime during your working day, you can check in on your finances and even make credit control calls and send copy invoices to slow payers. All from your phone.

What can we expect to see added to Xero in the future?

With feature updates and improvements automatically appearing in Xero roughly every four to six weeks, we’re always adding polish and new things. For example, Smartphones are getting smarter and smarter all the time, so we’re about to release a big refresh to our mobile app that we’re calling Xero Touch. It’s a completely new app and huge improvement on the previous mobile Xero app we first released in 2008. It brings brand new mobile features, like the ability to post up expenses with photos of the receipts taken with your smartphone’s camera, as well as mobile invoicing for creating and sending high quality invoices on the go. We’ve had a few people testing it for us and they say they love it, so we’re keen to get it out there as soon as we can.

How do people find out more about Xero and if it is right for them?

Most people expect that they have to ask for a CD to be posted out, but it’s much simpler than that. Anyone can start a free trial of Xero in seconds straight from our website, and if they have any questions either Xero staff or any one of our Xero Certified Partners across the UK are available and happy to help. Most people work out if Xero is right for them after about 15 minutes of playing with the trial.

What advice would you give someone choosing an Accountant?

We use the phrase Virtual CFO (Chief Financial Officer) to describe accounting firms who use modern products like Xero to offer clients much more than assistance with basic things like tax and statutory compliance. Having an accountant who can act as a Virtual CFO for your business, giving advice and advisory services every month is something I would always choose in preference for a traditional ‘History Dept’ firm who offer once a year services that don’t really help the business to grow or prosper.

What do you think makes a good Accountancy Practice?

One that works in a way that’s responsive, proactive and understands that clients need more help than just with tax returns.

What does the Accountancy service of the future look like?

Much more collaborative than today, looking over the shoulder of their clients every day in the Virtual CFO role and helping their clients attain their future business goals and objectives, rather than just reporting on what happened last year.

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