Getting to know the ‘cloud’ through Xero

The ‘cloud’ is most likely a common topic that comes up in conversations with other accountants, and some of you might have questions revolving around the ‘cloud’ and its capability.

Wing Siang, Managing Partner of Neutral Consulting, was unsure of the ‘cloud’ too until he got to know Xero. Neutral Consulting PLT is a consultancy company that provides accountancy, immigration and tax incentive advisory services to both local and international companies looking to set up their business in Malaysia. In a business environment that requires communication and connectivity with clients from around the world, Wing Siang recognised the importance of going paperless. He also saw the opportunity that digital technology can bring to his team. They need to be online and they need to be in the cloud. 

The ‘A-ha’ moment knowing that Xero is the one

To him, Xero is an opportunity to enable and educate his clients to access and understand financial information easily, especially within the Xero dashboard. He wants business owners to take a different perspective when it comes to accounting – it’s not a cost purely associated with compliance. Accounting can be a powerful and informative tool that businesses use to make informed business decisions. 

Besides seeing it as a valuable tool for his external stakeholders, he believes that the adoption of cloud technology can be beneficial for his team too. Based on Xero’s 2020 Singapore Accounting Industry Benchmarking report, practices that adopt the effective use of cloud technology were able to lower their costs by 240 hours per client per year. Practices are also 10% more likely to retain their staff when they embrace technology and invest in staff training. 

Since implementing Xero, Wing Siang and his team have saved at least 30% of their time previously spent on manual data entry and bank reconciliation. They now spend the extra time saved to deliver detailed analysis for their clients or turn it into an opportunity for staff to upskill themselves personally and professionally. 

“I see Xero as a breakthrough for accounting software technology and believe that they are heading towards the right direction,” says Ng Wing Siang.

Delivering greater value with cloud accounting

Despite the implementation of the movement control order (MCO) in Malaysia for approximately two months, Neutral Consulting has observed a revenue growth of 30%. This is in line with what was observed among the pacesetting firms who participated in our 2020 Singapore Accounting Industry Benchmarking report. Those who fully embrace technology were able to grow their revenue three times faster than the other firms who had not yet. Businesses are starting to see the need to move online as they face difficulties in getting the company’s latest financial information. With businesses working remotely with their accountants, it’s challenging for those who are still using desktop software and requiring physical document filing. 

Cloud accounting software is the perfect tool that enables advisors to connect and collaborate with their clients seamlessly. Being a Xero certified advisor, Neutral Consulting’s clients have been able to benefit from the switch to cloud accounting. They now have access to real-time financial data and can achieve automation in various aspects. This includes the use of Hubdoc to automatically capture data from uploaded documents and extract these information to publish into Xero as accurately coded transactions for reconciliations.  – Read more

Mastering cloud technology in the new normal

Amid the challenges of the past several months, it has been incredible to watch everyone step up to support each other as we all begin to get a grasp on the new normal. Accountants and bookkeepers have truly gone above and beyond expectations when it comes to supporting and advising their clients. This demonstrates the industry’s incredible adaptability, even under challenging circumstances.

Firms have embraced change by moving online, digitising operations, embracing remote work, and adopting new tools for client engagement. The adoption of cloud accounting over the past few years has continued – and perhaps further accelerated – during the coronavirus crisis. 

We recently hosted a live panel session with three accounting experts to discuss how they’ve mastered cloud technology and the ways it’s benefitted their practice during the last few months. 

Here are some of the key takeaways from the session. You can watch the full panel discussion on the recording below, or download our dedicated guide which is packed full of tips and tools to help you master cloud technology in your practice. 

Taking the leap 

The first step to effectively moving your firm and clients to the cloud is convincing all stakeholders that it’s worthwhile. Adam Fernandes, Director at the Cloud Accountant, said that his firm has had cloud culture ingrained from the start. However, new clients that had only used traditional practices in the past were often hesitant. He found that explaining the reasoning for choosing a cloud-based platform and the immediate benefits the client will see are the best ways to convince reluctant clients.

Sheetal Shah, Partner at DSK Partners LLP, agreed. Sheetal acknowledges that digitisation can be a big, potentially stressful step for clients. So at DSK Partners LLP they ensure they are there every step of the way to guide their clients through the process.

Clare Elsby, Head of Marketing and Business Development at Elsby & Co, experienced a similar phenomenon internally. When Elsby & Co took over a practice a few years ago, they found that it was based on very traditional systems. Clare explained that “many of the employees were not comfortable with the technologies we used, and as a result, either left or retired. However, others have completely embraced it, and these times have accelerated”. Elsby & Co’s migration to the cloud took about six months, and some clients still insist on paper, but GDPR, MTD, and now COVID-19, have further strengthened the case for cloud accounting. 

Using technology to stay productive

Sheetal said that while nothing could have prepared DSK Partners LLP for the pandemic mentally, their technology offered a firm grounding. Many employees had concerns over how the business would operate without face to face interaction, and most missed seeing one another in the office. However, the company quickly discovered that “the key was creating a culture that boosts motivation and encourages interaction online”. DSK Partners LLP implemented a ‘buddy system’ on Microsoft Teams and continued having ‘staff away days’ – events from quizzes to essential training – virtually.

For Clare and the rest of Elsby & Co, the adjustment to working from home was a significant challenge as just 20 percent of staff had previously made use of their flexible working policy. “The first week was pretty scary,” she said, “but our only major challenge was our phone landlines and using Microsoft Teams quickly solved that”. Elsby & Co also created various virtual teams that corresponded to their organisation in the office and ensured that everyone was kept updated through her weekly ‘Wednesday wisdoms’. – Read more

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