Lessons from the 2019 Xero Roadshows

iwoca took part in six Xero Roadshows around the UK throughout May and June, giving us a chance to catch up with the innovation taking place in the cloud accounting space.

19 June 2019

iwoca has been partnered with accounting software platform Xero since 2017. As one of the app exhibitors at its recent UK roadshow series, we got up close and personal with a number of our accounting partners, as well as being able to keep up to date with the software’s latest developments.

A key theme which resonated from this year’s roadshows was that there is an increasing opportunity for firms to offer cash flow advisory services to their clients, with recent data from Xero revealing that 60% of businesses are willing to pay for cashflow services.

Pre-empt cash flow issues

With only around half of UK small businesses being cash flow positive at any one time, helping clients manage their cashflow presents a huge opportunity for accounting firms to upsell advisory services.

Jonathan Bareham, co-founder of London-based accountants Raedan, pointed out the importance of pre-empting cash flow issues before they emerge. His firm regularly assess the financial health of their clients by reviewing the quality of their data on Xero.

Raean have also recently incorporated cash flow forecasting app Fluidly into this process. Launched in 2017, Fluidly is growing fast and is an easy to use solution for the end user and accountants alike. It uses historical data to predict future performance and can have base case scenarios set up for clients in just a few minutes.

Improve the cash flow and access capital

GoCardless is used by over 30,000 businesses – 10,000 of which are also on Xero – and is an effective tool to speed up payment of invoices, using Direct Debit to automatically collect payments before reconciling these with invoices.

Despite this, lack of finance is still cited as one of the biggest obstacles facing small business owners. In 2017 we connected the iwoca platform directly to Xero, allowing companies to access credit facilities of up to £200,000 within just a few hours.

Find the right app

With more than 700 apps on Xero’s marketplace, it is becoming increasingly hard to identify the right integrations for clients.

In order to address this problem Xero has released a series of guides detailing the best app integrations to implement and recommend to clients. The series covers advisory, cash flow and industry specific (trade and construction, professional services, retail and ecommerce and hospitality) options. Each guide gives an overview of the most suitable apps and benchmarks them for key features.

For those firms requiring hands on help, Xero has also introduced an App Integrator Program, which can connect them to trusted third-parties who have expertise in integrating apps efficiently, as well as ensuring firms are making the most of advisory services.

Learn best practice

Xero has been in the UK for around a decade. In that time, a number of local accounting practices have successfully mastered how to run and scale on the cloud. Last year Xero showcased several of these by publishing The Pacesetters: The British accountancy firms reshaping their industry.

A worthwhile read for any firm going on a digital transformation journey, during the roadshow the success of pacesetters was highlighted by using KPIs from the 17 partners firms as a benchmarking tool. For example, it was revealed that the average amount of time spent on compliance per client per year by pacesetters was 109 hours, by comparison to 198 hours by the average UK firm.

Embrace the ecosystem

Managing cash flow is an integral part of running a small business and iwoca fits seamlessly into the advisory offerings alongside a Fluidly and GoCardless. It’s this rich ecosystem that has seen Xero’s subscriber base grow to 463,000 in the UK – an increase of 151,000 over the last year.

“Cashflow advisory is an area where accountants can add so much value,” says Richard Sutton, iwoca’s head of accountant relationships. “Emerging technology opens up the doors for firms to be proactive in offering solutions before problems arise and reduces any uncertainty for their small business clients.”

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Nick Levine is a freelance journalist, chartered accountant and stratergy advisor. Based in London, he has worked with a number of startups such as Xero, Funding Xchange and GoCardless.

Article updated on: 25 June 2019

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