Xerocon London Recap: Product Announcements & What’s Next?

December 3rd, 2019 by Brooke Holmes 5 minutes, 29 seconds read

Last month, we had the pleasure of attending Xerocon London. Or what has now been dubbed... ‘Glastonbury for accountants’.

And this year’s Xerocon had everything. Literally everything:

  • Our incredible Precon party (check out our recap video below)
  • Rap music
  • An Astronaut
  • A tattoo parlour
  • A coffee machine that would print your face
  • Dodgem cars!

But aside from all of the fun & games, Xerocon was also home to 70 leading exhibitors, 63 workshop sessions, and 43 expert speakers, including Priya Lakhani, Major Tim Peake and Brad Burton.

Whether you attended and couldn’t make notes fast enough or you couldn’t attend for whatever reason, here is a summary of the main session takeaways and product announcements for Xerocon London 2019.

UK Precon Promo Video from ignitionapp on Vimeo.

Communities of purpose

Steve Vamos introduced Xerocon’s theme this year as ‘communities of purpose’, which seems fitting considering the loyal (and raving) community that Xero has built over the years.

Try to explain this to somebody who doesn’t know Xero or isn’t in the accounting world, and they might think you’re part of some pop band fanclub, or worse, a cult!

Steve proceeded to discuss the 5 trends he believes are currently shaping the industry:

  1. Cloud adoption
  2. AI machine learning
  3. Optimism around owning a business
  4. Changing government regulations around compliance
  5. Financial services innovation

There’s no doubt that these trends are creating change (and in some cases some uncertainty), which is why sticking together as a community is really important.

One of the things Steve talked about which really stuck with me was around insights, where he referred to an opportunity that you as accountants have to help small businesses overcome some of their challenges by providing them with insights. I’ll touch on how Xero are doing this in the product announcements section coming up next.

Xerocon product announcements

It wouldn’t be a Xerocon without a few, new product announcements. And this years product announcements were featured around 3 main goals:

  1. Accurate & fast data
  2. End to end workflows
  3. Real-time insights

So let’s look at each of those and what was announced to help achieve the goal.

Accurate & fast data

    Last year Xero acquired Hubdoc and it’s great to hear that the integration is nearing completion, with Hubdoc now processing double the amount of documents than it was before. Once complete, Xero users will be able to access Hubdoc from their Xero accounts where the two platforms will connect seamlessly.

    End to end workflows

      As part of their vision to build end-to-end tax and compliance workflows, Xero acquired Instafile back in 2018, which has now been rebranded to Xero Tax.

      This fully integrated tax workflow will eliminate the need to rely on manual data imports. It features a single Xero sign on (just like Practice Ignition!), ledger validation, XBRL tagging, CH & HMRC integration, e-signing and much more.

      You are able to access this for micro entity filing and small business accounts today however the corporation tax and accounts production module will be released next March. Additional functionality for personal tax and partnership tax is also in the pipeline.

      Some additional product announcements to mention here include:

      • A new mileage tracker inside the award-winning Xero Expenses that automatically calculates fuel & mileage claims (Dec release)
      • An update to the quotes inside Xero Projects to allow businesses to track profitability
      • A new direct connection to HMRC for Xero Payroll

      Real-time insights

      Following on from Steve Vamos’s introductory speech where he said that the future of accounting is around “innovation that develops insights that can be delivered to clients”, this is the area where Xero seem to have spent most of their time focusing.

      The first announcement was about Xero HQ VAT which was released in September, where you can understand at a glance all of your clients immediate tax obligations and easily manage their compliance.

      Instead of trying to keep track in multiple places, you can now log directly into Xero HQ VAT to see all of your upcoming compliance requirements.

      Hopefully this should ease the pressure for firms from the latest MTD requirements.

      The next announcement was about Xero’s new Business Snapshot tool, which helps business owners to understand their key metrics & trends, in one simple view. This was followed by their Short Term Cash Flow tool which was released for pilot in September. This allows business owners to see a 30-day summary of their cash flow, allowing them to make those all important decisions around payments.

      But Xero’s focus on cash flow and payments didn’t end there…

      Coming back to the earlier statistics shared by Steve Vamos around 50% of small businesses failing in the first 5 years due to cash flow, it’s not surprising that Xero have now created a dedicated team whose purpose it is to improve cash flow for every business.

      On invoices, businesses now have the option to save card details (for Stripe payments) and then to set up autopay so that recurring invoices get paid automatically.

      The stand out announcement regarding payments was probably their new partnership with Transferwise called ‘Pay with Transferwise’. This new feature will allow businesses (and their advisors) to pay bills directly from Xero, regardless of who they bank with.

      With greater emphasis being seen on cash flow across the industry, we were excited to announce direct debits are live for all accounts in the UK! With this announcement, we’re making it even easier for UK-based accountants and bookkeepers to capture client billing information up front 100% of the time, meaning it has never been easier to get paid with Practice Ignition.

      Additional product announcements:

      Some additional product announcements from Xerocon that don’t necessarily fall under those 3 categories include:

      • Integrations with Hubspot, Google Contacts and Office 365, where you can sync and update customer and supplier contact info
      • Further use of the ‘Sign in with Xero’ feature for more apps (if you didn’t know, Practice Ignition is one of the apps you can do this with)
      • Personalised app recommendations for your clients where you can offer recommendations on apps for you clients when they sign in to the marketplace (great for when you’ve partnered with apps in your practice and want more clients using them).

      Go and light that yankee candle

      Like all other events, you need to spend time reviewing what you learnt and then taking action.

      If there was an app partner you thought could help bring efficiencies to you and your clients’ businesses, then go and start a free trial with them or set up a time to find out more.

      Start utilising some of the new product features which are already available to you right now in Xero to help your clients businesses.

      Go and take action.
      Go and light that candle.
      And if you have no idea what I’m on about, check out this video.

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