A Look Into The Future Of Cloud Accounting With Anna Curzon of Xero

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The SaaS report recently announced their Top 25 women leaders in SaaS and we’re delighted to hear that Xero’s chief partner officer Anna Curzon has recently been included alongside other key leaders in companies inlcuding Microsoft and IBM.

These highly accomplished executives are the most influential in their field and the leaders are noted not just for the success of their companies but more so for their personal achievements including current and prior positions, company performance, industry recognition and influence as well as impact on organizations where they’ve held leadership roles.

Guy Dub (G.D.) from CloudAccountant.Today caught up with Anna to talk about working at Xero, plans for the future and looking for tips for accounting practices wanting to adopt modern technology.

G.D.: Firstly, a BIG congratulation from all the team at CloudAccountant.Today. You must be really pleased, how did you feel when you realised that you were included?

Anna Curzon: “I’m thrilled to be included in the Top 25 women leaders in SaaS and to be recognised alongside so many high calibre women in SaaS companies, who are individually and collectively achieving such amazing things. I must admit it was a bit of a shock, but definitely a good one!

I was also really delighted that a spotlight has been shone on women in SaaS organisations, to encourage more women to enter this amazing community.”

G.D.: You also went from being Xero’s Managing Director in New Zealand to their Chief Partner Officer in just a few years so again another big congratulations. You obviously did a great job in that role too.

Anna Curzon: “Xero was evolving into a globally distributed leadership team with bookkeepers and accountants who had been our customers for a decade. As Managing Director of New Zealand, I worked with many of the early customers at Xero and it gave me the opportunity to sit in their offices every day and really understand their needs, challenges and dreams. This experience, along with my digital background was invaluable as I transitioned into my role as Chief Partner Officer, where my team and I now get to build the products and experiences to support our Partners around the globe to thrive.

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While we’re known for building beautiful software on our small business platform, we also know that at the core, business is about people. It’s about building strong and trustful relationships that stand the test of time. This is a core philosophy of mine and it’s why I’ve loved every moment working with our wonderful Partners in both roles.

As Chief Partner Officer, my team and I have been able to make a real impact in a short time. Working with Xeros across the globe, we’ve really mobilised our vision for our partners right across our community this year, and had a lot of fun along the way!”

G.D.: You must really enjoy working at Xero; can you share a few insights on what you enjoy about it?

Anna Curzon: “Our purpose here at Xero is to have a positive impact on the world by helping small businesses to grow – it’s a truly inspirational purpose and something I am extremely passionate to be a part of personally and professionally.

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The people I work with – the beautiful humans of Xero, our partners and our small businesses – drive me every day to do the best work of my life. There is no other small business platform that can globally impact the small business economy the way the Xero community can. When small businesses win, families win, more jobs are created, communities and ultimately economies are stronger. How cool is it to wake up everyday and genuinely understand that the work you’re doing can have such a positive influence on the world?

We also have very clear values at Xero – #Beautiful, #Human, #Challenge, #Ownership, #Challenge. These aren’t words on a page, we live and breath them everyday. GIve feedback centred around them, make business decisions based on them. As Rachael Powell, our Chief People Officer said recently, if you have strong values, you don’t need lots of rules. People intuitively know what the right thing is to do.

I also love how we make time for play at work. In every Xero office, we have ping pong, pool tables, X-boxes and more. We know that play stimulates creativity, and in a business where innovation is crucial, it’s an investment that really pays off.

I’m having the time of my life, and I know the best is yet to come!”

G.D.: One of the most exciting things that Xero offers is the Ecosystem and the App partners that you integrate with. Can you offer us any insight in to how you would like to develop that over the next few years?

Anna Curzon: “We are already delivering to our partners’ needs and we have a roadmap of continual innovation particularly in building out our Ecosystem and App partner strategy.

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We now have over 600 app partners that integrate with Xero, and over 40,000 developers globally working with our API. In terms of platforms for building for small business – it’s one of the biggest in the world. We’re receiving consistent feedback from our app partners who build and launch with us that it becomes a really powerful channel for them to grow.

For Xero we will continue to grow the Ecosystem over time. For us, it’s not about having millions of apps, it’s about having really great solutions that our customers want and love to use. We know that when customers use apps their profitability increases by 30 percent and we also know that when customers are connected across multiple parts of their business they are much more likely to stay in business and reduce costs. It’s more than just software, it’s also about connecting small businesses to their banks, service, advisors and solutions. So we will continue to invest in our global platform and support our mission is to drive successful small businesses. Because with an open platform, we have access to the vast resources of our Ecosystem community, and together there is no problem that we can’t solve for our Partners and their small business clients.”

G.D.: We are now in the golden age of accounting, and with the influx of new technologies such as A.I. we know that there are still many new and exciting things to come. What is your vision on how you think that this will impact the accounting profession?

Anna Curzon: “Indeed it is the golden age of accounting and it’s such an exciting time to be involved in making positive change to benefit the industry.

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We have a clear vision to work with our Partners to reimagine this wonderful industry through world-leading tools and education which will drive efficiencies, build stronger relationships and create new sources of value.

There is so much coming with advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. But we recognise that the human touch is central to the relationships that our Partners have with their clients. So it’s about delivering efficiencies, but also using technology to provide our Partners with the insights and information to provide the advice and expertise their clients need to thrive.

So rather than competing with accounting technology, accountants are now able to expand their services and be the growth agents for small business clients.”

G.D.: Finally can you share any tips on what accountants can do now to embrace the future and any advice for accountants scared to adopt new technologies.

Anna Curzon: “The big winners of the next generation of accountants and business will be those that see which way the wind is blowing and get ready now with adoption of digital technology. My piece of advice would be this; talk to other Bookkeepers and Accountants that have already switched their practices to the cloud. Understand the change they went through and hear first hand about the benefits, and also the things that you need to plan for. Our Xero teams can connect you to other Partners and share case studies too.

Also, pick up a copy of one of our Benchmarking reports. We are seeing very clearly that Partners who have made the digital switchover are able to service significantly more clients per staff member and are growing revenue faster.

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For Partners that are providing online accounting, they are growing revenue 80% faster than those that aren’t, and if they provide app advice, they’re growing revenue 60% faster.

What’s more, in a recent Benchmarking report we completed in Australia, Partners that had switched their practice to the cloud were able to service 74 clients per employee up from 21. And there’s more good news – they were hiring more staff and doubling revenue per client.

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It’s not just good for the proverbial bottom line. Our Xero Partners tell us that they have much more flexibility, because they can work from anywhere, anytime. It will change your life for the better, and help your small businesses to be more efficient, productive and successful.

The small business economy has never been more important to the world, and there is no other community that is better positioned than our Xero Partners to support small businesses to grow. They are the super heros of small business, so make the change, you’ll never look back!”

G.D.:Do you have anything else that you would like to add or say for our readers?

Anna Curzon: “One thing that makes it an easy decision to do what I do is that Xero creates a community where women can thrive. We have great gender representation across our senior leadership team and right through the business.

This is also reflective of the global community we work with. I believe SaaS businesses create efficiencies and flexibility making it easy for women to be successful. Great SaaS businesses promote transparency, trust and collaboration, which promotes a culture of meritocracy. I would encourage more women into technology so they too can thrive in their work, and we can collectively make even better software that reflects the customers we serve.”

We would very much like to thank Anna for chatting to us and look forward to publishing more in the future.