Xerocon London 2018

Xerocon London 2018 Summary – Day 2

Wow what a time we had last week at Xerocon London 2018. As promised here is our day two wrap up.  It is a long read but hopefully you will find it useful and if you haven’t already read Xerocon London 2018 Summary – Day 1 then read that first.  Whilst this article is a summary of an accounting software conference we feel it adds value to any reader in that it demonstrates and shows what is happening in the marketplace.  It might not be your marketplace being disrupted right now but it could and this might give you some key thoughts and ideas.

We know there are already a hundred and one articles out there but we thought we would chip in with our key takeaways and action points from Xerocon. Primarily to serve as a reminder to us of what we should be looking at but also for those that could not attend. The world is changing, and that positive change can only be influenced and shaped by people so hopefully you find this a good read and can help us in making that change.

So what’s new in the Xero Client Experience?
Thursday, November 15, 2018
09:15am – 10:00am
Damon Anderson

90% of businesses are small businesses employing less than 10 people.

90% of Xero subscribers are connected to an advisor. 728 add-ons and growing due to new bank feed API.

These are the 5 key stages of small business finance process. You can now see all the key components being completed by Xero.

1. Data capture
2. Extraction and coding
3. Checking and verifying
4. Managing finances
5. Staying Compliant


Xero New Client Experience Features

Xero Email-to-bills

Within the core Xero product, you now have the availability to capture data automatically using email-to-bills if you are in the Premium beta group. This functionality has been there for a while but it did not extract data. Currently the contact, date, due date, invoice number and total will be extracted, and you need to enter a description, account code and tax rate. When machine learning kicks in properly you may not need to code the bills yourself at all but this would then mean a completely automated and free solution which would seem crazy from Xero’s point of view.

Unfortunately, the draft bill comes into Xero as a tax inclusive bill which overrides any organisation or contact defaults set so you will need to double check this information against the on-screen data for accuracy.

However, if you have set a default tax rate and account code then a simple click in the account code field will pull through the relevant account code and default tax rate. This means to complete a bill you only need to enter something into the description field. For speed we would recommend a full stop as the PDF document is attached to the bill so should you need to review later simply click on the paper icon in the top right-hand corner.

This currently only works with PDF attachments. Emailing multiple PDF’s in a single email will create individual bills in Xero.

Research conducted by Xero suggest that this feature will save you on average 26% of the time previously spent entering bills. Following the process highlighted above we would anticipate that this is even higher.

Xero New Sales Invoicing Workflow

One of the much-loved functions within Xero will get a facelift in early 2019. There isn’t much wrong with the process now, but you will be happy to see the following be added:

  • Editable fields at invoice level, remove quantity etc without touching the branding theme
  • new contact on the fly complete with email address and address details
  • every 3 seconds the draft invoice is saved so no more lost work
  • currency on the fly so you don’t need to add in settings before raising an invoice
  • machine learning account codes to make sure you post to the correct place

Xero Expenses

Not something that we would have recommended before as there were much better alternatives out there but true to form this has been turned around. There is some cool integration with Xero Projects that now makes both products worth another look if you haven’t seen them for a while.

We have seen multi-currency, multi-line extraction, better approval flows, push notifications and better integrations with the other parts of Xero to name but a few. I would love to see the ability to push an expense claim through Xero Payroll to enable us to pay expenses as part of the payroll experience without breaking that workflow.

I could go on but it was at this point that Xerocon app lost connection and my unsaved notes a long with it.

Xero Mileage

You heard it hear first. No demo, no screenshots but we were advised that this is on its way. This would be a great addition. Don’t forget if you are in the market for a mileage app and you are an Office 365 Business Premium customer you could be using MileIQ or TripCatcher.

CIS – e-filing

Finally, you will be able to e-file your CIS returns to HMRC direct from Xero. Once we have bulk CIS statements and verifying subcontractors online, I do believe we have a fully functioning CIS product.

Automated Bank Rules

7 out of 10 Xero users recently voted the bank reconciliation function their favourite feature. Well it just got better as you no longer will need to hit OK to those matched bank lines that have a Bank Rule applied.  Automated Bank Rules have arrived Xero learns and approves matched transactions avoiding the need for you sitting there hitting the OK button.

Xero Mobile

By Xero’s own admission the Xero Mobile experience has been a bit neglected. That has changed though this year and a lot of updates have been shipped that you may have missed. I know I did. A lot of the functionality you can find in the main app will start appearing in the mobile experience such as being able to add Bills as Xero begin to operate a mobile first experience.

Have a look at the full run down of what is available in Xero Mobile currently.

Xero New Navigation

From Monday 26th November there will be a new navigation bar in Xero. This is the culmination of thousands of hours of research and analysis to work out how users are using the navigation. Whilst this is one part of the system that has not changed massively before this is a big facelift.

As with any changes to start it will be a little alien but trust in the research and I’m sure we will not notice the difference in a few weeks’ time. Below is a snapshot of what you will be seeing shortly. Check out this useful compare and contrast from old to new from Smart Team so you know where to find everything.


Xero Find & Recode

Journals will be available to change in Find & Recode meaning that you can easily correct a long-standing problem within a client’s records. No more manually editing journal by journal. Great news and one that the Xero Business Community will be pleased has been resolved.

Making business digital with the Xero app marketplace
Thursday, November 15, 2018
10:00am – 10:40am
Nick Houldsworth

Unless you have a niche app then you could be screwed. You might have a 2-year window before Xero move into that space which limits you massively unless you have a standalone product. If you are simply servicing data to Xero or using data from Xero then you are putting yourself at risk. Data is the new oil! If you don’t control the data you don’t control the customer base. Examples could include Receipt Bank.

Only 9% use 5 apps or more. 30% of businesses growth is faster if they have connected apps.

Xero is going to simplify options as overwhelmed by choice. 35,000 is the number of decisions an average person makes a day. 728 apps and growing. Need an app to tell you what to choose!!


There is now a partner programme for app ecosystem. There are now 3 additional tiers. Number of connections, quality of reviews and number of reviews all count as well as attending Xerocon and roadshows.

Marketplace is now live within Xero as part of the new navigation. Think of it as Netflix for the apps. It will suggest apps based on your needs.


Appears to only suggest apps where there are none connected which is unlikely. This is quite limiting in scope as it is suggesting that if one app is connected a full review has been completed which just might not be the case. I am hoping this will be built out in the future for it to be a useful addition. Partners should also be aware that the new dashboard layout has a link to the app marketplace showing the client these same apps. If you are not aware of what the options are you could look quite stupid when they ask.

Not sure where to start – app advisory. 56% would prefer to pay someone else to manage their apps for them. On average a business spends a day a month selecting apps.


Only 11% of partners offering some form of app advisory. Not entirely sure where this statistic comes from as I’m surprised that it is this high. Would be interesting to hear from Xero on what is classed as ‘some form of app advisory’.


Use the app advisory playbooks. Cash flow playbook is brand new and available from 15th November 2018. These are also available in Xero U Courses.


Grow your business using Xero playbooks and certification by homing in on those areas where they know there is a demand. These will be the sectors where there are playbooks and badges up for grabs.

215,605 UK companies incorporated in retail and construction in last year and there are over 1 million in the construction industry.

Promote your industry experience by doing Xero accreditations in 3 industries. Badges added to your advisory directory. Need 3 clients in that industry and have them connected to an app in that industry to be eligible.

The Xero app marketplace will drive traffic back to advisors directory such as someone searching for Deputy in a certain location.

Breakout: The secrets to scaling a digital practice
Thursday, November 15, 2018
11:40am – 12:10pm
Paul Bulpitt
Pacesetters research


The Pacesetters book created by Xero (which I have had on my desk for several months now) details how to grow the right way and how to avoid the common mistakes others made. The four common mistakes to avoid are:

  • “just testing” the Cloud
  • Over-reliance on compliance
  • Using the “wrong” apps
  • Using multiple online accounting systems and letting the clients choose

Whilst these mistakes are in a book about accountancy, they can be applied to most service-based businesses out there.

Mark Telford of Telfords Chartered Accountants was the Xero MVP award winner this year. They have 3 staff in Ashford Kent. The employees are made up of part-time staff working remotely. This sounds like living the dream, how could your business operate doing such a thing? Telfords Chartered Accountants service 70 businesses. They would never do bookkeeping to start but bookkeeping has allowed them to understand the detail of their clients better, so they can offer better support and advice. Don’t dismiss doing the grunt work because there is not enough money in it – you never know what it can lead to.
Broadly 3 types of firms. Compliance. Compliance plus bookkeeping and simple advice. Complex advisory aka VFD.

Armstrong Watson filmed their 2.5 day training roll out and now use for all new starters to get onboarded faster. AW built their own accounts production product so nothing ever comes out of Xero for a unified ledger.

Sian Kelly from Informed suggested, be picky with clients as there is enough for everyone. Staffing wise go down the apprentice route as they get the tech, keen to learn and hungry. Senior staff can be a struggle as they are more expensive and can struggle to pick up tech and pace of change.

Breakout: Xero for practice: Driving practice efficiencies
Thursday, November 15, 2018
12:20pm – 1:00pm
Mark Barraclough
Neil Sheehan

Celebrate focusing on practice and practice apps. Xero want to provide the world’s best platform. Communication from workpapers and XeroHQ led by partners.

Client and practice Insights wrapped up in one place. External apps as well such as what can now be seen in XeroHQ.

The biggest thing to come out of this session was the introduction of Instafile to the Xero family through acquisition. This means that Xero can now provide accounts production and corporation tax functionality to advisers. This is a massive announcement and one that has been 8 years in the making.

It does however start to really drive a stake into the heart of the ecosystem and partners. We were talking to many accountancy partners who stated that this could mean they no longer need Digita or Iris with some looking to save in excess of £60k per annum on software subscriptions with those firms. Wow.

It will certainly make Xero a much more appealing outfit to new advisors looking to make a choice over which cloud accounting platform to work with. This truly could be a game changer and a welcome one for a lot.

Quicktalks: The data-driven practice: using insights to help clients thrive
Thursday, November 15, 2018
2:00pm – 2:20pm
Donna Torres

As the most widely used online accounting platform in the UK Xero have access to a wealth of data. They are now bringing that key performance data together through Xero Small Business Insights which will tell us something about the health of the small business economy.

Xero small business insights. Anonymous aggregated data. Aim is to help policy makers make better informed decisions for small business. It is updated quicker and more frequently than other sources.


99% of UK business are small. 60% of employment and 51% of GDP.

1,100 businesses started every day. It is easy to start a business. It has never been cheaper or easier in fact to start a new business but growing one is a different matter. Who is helping them? Below are the 3 most common barriers to growth that hopefully using these small business insights a plan can be formulated to help small businesses.


Some of the small business insights highlight that it takes 39 days on average to get paid for a 30 day term invoice. Large companies take 46 days and there is £28k average debt of late payments. This money could be used to employ someone, pay a years rent or invest in new technology and processes. Its great having this data but what do Xero want to see from this:


If you want to keep an eye on what the latest insights are telling us about small businesses using Xero in the UK you can see the following at:



You can also see some useful content in relation to the above key metrics. You can be part of the solution. While you are there don’t forget to subscribe so you can get the insights direct to your inbox each month when they have been published.

Breakout: Work more efficiently with your clients using Xero connected apps
Thursday, November 15, 2018
2:35pm – 3:05pm
Dhan Mannakkara

Xero is now much more than an accounting engine. It is a connected platform offering additional apps that can help you save time and reduce costs. From the image below, you can see that Xero has now added payroll, expenses, projects, WorkflowMax, Hubdoc and CIS to the platform.

Xero have now also become a Trello powerup which means that you can connect Trello to Xero Projects. This creates a seamless way to record time against projects in Trello and see the corresponding information in Xero to raise a sales invoice.



On top of that the partner programme has also seen workpapers, XeroHQ and Instafile added to the fold.

It is important to regularly check that you have not missed something important. We would highly recommend watching the product update webinar which also counts as points towards your certification.


Breakout: The secret rule for getting massive content marketing results in a fraction of the time
Thursday, November 15, 2018
2:35pm – 3:05pm
Andrew Pickering and Peter Gartland

This was easily my favourite session of the two days and a great way to wrap up Xerocon London 2018. A completely different take on how to do a talk on a subject done to death over the years, hugely entertaining but educational at the same time. The voiceover of Joe Wicks being my particular favourite.

The 90/10 rule is something that we will be implementing over the coming months. We need to be more considered and measured in our approach as you can read from the slides below it makes sense.


Spend 90% of your time doing something well and only 10% on other stuff. Pull the plug on what’s not working in order to reallocate 90% of your efforts into what is working. Do more of what you enjoy finding a reaction spike and have fun.


Create remarkable content such as Brian Dean SEO guru only 51 blogs.


Spread yourself thin and never win. Success comes to those who first focus their efforts into doing one thing remarkably well, rather than spreading themselves too thin.

If you want to find out more about the great work from Andrew and Peter attend their free online workshop:


Breakout: Optimising your clients cash flow
Thursday, November 15, 2018
12:20pm – 1:00pm
Glen Foster
Andy Muir

Using the small business insights prepared by Xero in the month of 51.1% of UK small businesses using Xero were cash flow positive in September 2018. There is an upward trend of the total % of businesses that are seeing an improvement in this area. Is this because they are using Xero or another reason?


What is evident is that this type of insight can help pinpoint things that need attention. If you feel a business needs help in this area then downloading the cash flow playbook is a great place to start. I say start because it is 53 pages long. If your life is more interesting, then give us a shout and we can summarise for you.

There are some pretty cool apps out there to help you in this area and no Excel is not one of them nor is the back of a fag packet.
To get a better understanding of where you are now then you can use Xero. If you wish to see where you could be tomorrow, next week, next month or next year you would be well placed to look at:

  • Futrli
  • Fluidly
  • Fathom
  • Float
  • Spotlight

Once you have established where you might a have a problem you could choose to use a payment service to help if it is short term as well as automating your credit control such as:

  • GoCardless (Direct Debit for small business)
  • Stripe
  • PayPal
  • Chaser
  • Satago

Failing that we can move on to some form of lending:

  • Satago
  • MarketInvoice

As you can see the list is already quite big and we have only mentioned a few options. If you want to sit tight in the knowledge you have the right app stack then please get in touch.

TransferWise: TransferWise + Xero: For ‘helping businesses go global’ people
Thursday, November 15, 2018
1:30pm – 1:45pm

Doing business internationally is complex enough without the added problems of bad exchange rates, slow transfers and the pain of opening overseas accounts. That is where TransferWise come in having already helped over 150,000 businesses to send money overseas.

With speeds previously thought impossible, big savings and no hidden fees compared to traditional banks. You can even open overseas currency accounts in a single click.

Not using the traditional banking system. Check out some of the key features:

  • 8 x cheaper than banks
  • 4 x cheaper than PayPal
  • GBP to Euro in 26 seconds
  • AUS to GBP in a few hours
  • Batch payment upload and API
  • Business Debit Card – no fees
  • Xero bank feed – connect to accounting



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