Xerocon London 2019: Key takeaways
By Rachel AstallNov 20194 min read
With over 3,000 attendees, 70 exhibitors, 43 speakers, 12 baristas and 1 tattoo parlour – this year’s Xerocon London was the biggest yet, attracting members of the Xero community from all over the world.
We’re proud to be part of this community and were delighted to attend this year as a Gold sponsor.
The theme this year was about building communities of purpose. This was introduced by CEO, Steve Vamos, who spoke about the shared purpose of the Xero community:
“To make life better for people in small businesses” and how Xero strives to extend this to small business advisors and communities around the world.
Over the two days at Xerocon London, Xero shared how they will achieve this, by “rewiring the world of small businesses to make it seamless, simpler and smarter,” Vamos said.
This included a number of new product announcements, advice and best practices from experts in the industry, insightful conversations, and innovative new technology from a number of Xero’s app integrators.
Now the dust has settled, and we’ve had time to take it all in, here are our highlights.
Communities of purpose
Xerocon was opened by a performers from a community charity called ApeMedia, as the words Growth, Purpose, Community, Trust and Dream appeared on the stage-wide screen behind.
Xero CEO Steve Vamos then welcomed attendees, thanking the performers and introducing the conference by highlighting how important SMBs are to innovation and growth in our economy.
And research shows that enthusiasm and drive from entrepreneurs is at a high: 83% of SMB owners are optimistic about the future and 70% of high school students aspire to own their own business one day – yet 50% of small businesses fail in the first four years due to poor cash flow.
Keynote speakers, Steve Vamos and Gary Turner touched on how, by becoming trusted advisors, accountants and bookkeepers can help small businesses take control and thrive.
On Day 2, Ben Johnson, Payments & Lending Partnerships Lead at Xero, talked about how SMB owners are actually seeking this support from their accountants - sharing Xero research that found 67% of small business owners would be willing to pay for cash flow advice.
Over the two days, Xero, industry experts and truster partners came together to share insights into how, as a community, we can make life better for small businesses.
The productivity puzzle
Gary Turner, Xero MD UK & EMEA, spoke in his keynote about the productivity puzzle in the UK. That is, the slow recovery of the UK economy following the financial crisis.
How can we solve this problem?
The answer starts with providing small businesses and accountants with the insights and real time data they need to make proactive, rather than reactive, decisions.
Xero’s Chief Product Officer, Anna Curzon, announced several updates to the Xero platform and new products that will help businesses make important decisions more quickly. Including:
Short terms cash flow metrics dashboard
Developments to the Hubdoc integration
These products are also designed to help accountants, as advisors, to save their own time - as research currently suggests that one-third of their time is spent on manual processes.
Tackling late payments
Late payments remain responsible for 50,000 SMB insolvencies every year (Source: FSB) - and those that do stay running are owed an average of £23, 000 in late payments.
This is why many of the talks at this year’s Xerocon came down to payments - and looking at how SMBs can get paid more quickly.
On day 1, Founding Chief Technology Officer and Executive GM Payments & Billing Solutions, Craig Walker, talked us through Xero’s plans to create world class payments experiences.
We heard that 78% of invoices passing through Xero are recurring and how they plan to optimise their payment integrations to make taking recurring payments even easier. This includes developing their partnership with Stripe for card payments and some exciting updates to the GoCardless for Xero integration:
GoCardless in Xero: Within the next year, Xero will be building a direct integration with GoCardless, making it manageable from within the Xero platform itself.
Instalments: GoCardless for Xero is getting a new feature this year that allows you to split a single invoice into instalment payments.
International payments: GoCardless for Xero customers will be able to take international payments from 30 countries, into one domestic bank account, with competitive currency exchange built in (powered by TransferWise).
In a panel discussion later in the day, SMB influencer Emma Gannon spoke about the importance of welcoming the tools that help you manage invoicing and payments - and how for her, seeking advice from her accountant has been key.
For accountants and bookkeepers as SMB advisors, it’s important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of different payment methods – and the impact that the right one can have on your clients’ businesses. GoCardless’ Chief Product Officer, Duncan Barrigan, stressed this in his keynote: Are you jeopardising your clients’ cash flow? In it, he shared some new GoCardless research about the payment preferences of business payers. Results showed that UK businesses prefer to pay by Direct Debit in 75% of recurring payments use cases, including regular business bills (such as utilities or insurance) and instalments (such as loans).
Understanding payment methods, and utilising the new features announced by Xero will make it easier for you to advise clients on payments and help them take control of their own cash flow much easier, while giving them back the time to focus on growing their business.
A collective problem
Late payments are often associated with big businesses failing to pay their smaller clients on time when actually this is a more widespread problem - and one that the Xero community can help fix.
To help tackle accounts payable and make it easier for small businesses to pay their own suppliers on time - Xero have partnered with TransferWise to bring you Pay with TransferWise, which makes it easy for you and your clients to pay bills from within the Xero platform.
Making life better for people in small businesses
Last year’s Xerocon theme was Human at Heart and this year, the people behind small businesses were just as big of a focus.
This involved several speakers sharing personal stories, including Craig Hudson (Xero MD, New Zealand & Pacific Islands) and Gary Turner. As well as sessions on how we can practically reduce the stress felt by small business owners.
In a panel session (Business rewired: The technology trends shaping the future of small business) Gary Turner, rather than just talking about work life balance, spoke about how we need to address the quality of working life to ensure businesses are productive, and that people are happy and engaged in their jobs. Currently only 13% of the UK workforce are engaged in what they do.
Across both days, there were a number of practical sessions with tips and advice for accountants looking to make life better for their clients:
Recommend the right apps: There are 800+ apps in the marketplace. Use the Xero app recommendations feature to make it easy for them to find what they need.
Take control of payments: Advise clients on the right, automated payment method for their business to make sure they get paid on time.
Automate data entry: Help clients get time back by using apps like Receipt Bank to automate recurring manual tasks.
Help them plan ahead: Use Business Snapshot and the new Cash Flow Metrics dashboard in Xero to help clients identify issues ahead of time and make informed business decisions. Utilise apps like Fluidly and Futrli for a more in depth analysis.
Listen and advise: Take the time to build relationships and really understand what your client needs from you as an advisor, and the goals they have for their business.
Help your clients take control of their cash flow today – get started with GoCardless for Xero.