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Xero Roadshow Round-up

Last week I went to the Bristol Xero Roadshow. It was packed. If you didn't make it, find out what you missed.

It was a great opportunity to find out what is ahead of the accounting profession, like the AI updates Gary Turner talked of. There was some furious note taking which is no surprise given the gems of information people like Paul Bulpitt were handing out.

Xero is focused on helping accountants improve their offering and enhance their client relationships. As the software improves, Xero is offering practical business advice to accountants to ensure they maintain their place as an essential aspect of their client's businesses. This is because the future of artificial intelligence will see a huge rise in the level of automation in Xero.
What Xero are working on with AI is using all the data that flows through the program to teach it what codes to apply to suppliers. The existing find and recode function has recoded 23 million errors since its launch. That is a huge amount of time saved and the next step in automation will take this a whole lot further. AI will remove the coding option to the business user, leaving it to Xero to work out the right code and saving accountants time undoing user errors.

All this time saved means a serious rethink of the role of the accountant. As Paul Bulpitt stressed, digital is not a department. 86% of businesses are using the cloud within their processes already. So moving businesses into the cloud shouldn't be a hard task once your internal systems are in place.

What accountants offer that AI does not is that personal touch. Reading your client body language or tone of voice that tells you their stressed. Understanding the individual quirks their business may have. Noticing and being prepared for changes in your client's business whether that's opportunities for growth or the economic impact of market developments, this is where accountants come into their own.

At the end of the morning, Paul invited 3 Xero Partners up to the offer the experiences and answer questions. Stacey Morrison from Oldmill Accountants, a large firm with over 250 staff, Paul Miller from Cornish Accounting Solutions, a smaller firm of 10, and Sharon Pocock of Kinder Pocock Accountants.

When asked about 'Making Tax Digital', Paul was very positive about the change. He explained MTD as an opportunity to educate and move clients to a platform that will help accountants manage MTD.

Paul's firm refuse to work with someone unless they use Xero. And they are that straight talking. Having that level of commitment to the cloud and that level of confidence speaks volumes to clients. If an accountant is willing to turn away a client based on the uptake of accounting software, that shows a serious belief in the benefits it would bring.

To ensure that the internal transition to cloud runs smoothly in a larger practice, Stacey recommended educating pockets of staff who will be instrumental in starting the journey. These key staff can then spread their knowledge and ensure the whole team is able to educate clients as your practice moves into the cloud. If there is opposition to change within practice management, Stacey expressed the importance of doing your homework. Being prepared is will give your foundation knowledge to put across a strong case and be convincing. People are still very resistant to change but the sooner you get ahead the better.