This year, the ACT/NSW Bookkeeping Partner of the Year goes to Gold partner firm, Figures Matter. We talk to director Jennie Smith, who runs the show alongside Jacqui McMillan, to hear about their 100 per cent Xero practice.
Congratulations on your award. Where did it all begin for you?
Jacqui and I met seven years ago. I was running a bookkeeping franchise and she was one of my contractors, based in a shack at the back of my house! Not long after I was approached to buy another bookkeeping business, but it already had staff and I was cautious to take on something so big. Jacqui said, “Why don’t we do it together?” So we did.
I was introduced to Xero around the same time and left the conference saying, “This is the way to go”. I still remember a Xero payroll staff member coming out to ‘the shack’ to work with us to develop the payroll conversion. We started moving all of our clients from MYOB to Xero, and found premises for the new business. We earned Silver status pretty quickly, then being the first Gold Partner in Canberra became our mission – I was a bit obsessed by it. We got there before my target date and we haven’t looked back since.
What do you do differently?
Three or four years ago, we essentially said to our clients, “Use Xero or you can’t use us”! That consolidation gave us so much time back, because we could work much more effectively – from anywhere. It’s amazing to think we used to wade our way through paperwork, spend all our time on the road to clients, and then stress that the USB stick with the backup would be corrupted!
Instead we realised that the more streamlined you become, the easier it is to lose personal interaction with the client, so we heavily promote one-on-one time. It’s a real opportunity for our team to learn what our clients need, whether that’s a new add-on or training.
What’s the future of bookkeeping?
I believe there will be a real shift from traditional bookkeeping to assisting with add-on services, like Spotlight and Fathom. That will become the norm and we’ll work closely with clients on the real-time cash position of the business. In five years’ time, if things go the way Rod Drury predicts, there won’t be a need for internet banking at all. Everything will look different.
You’re our ACT/NSW winner. Why Canberra?
People often get the impression that ACT is just about government activities, but the private enterprise space here is huge. It’s great to earn that recognition for ACT – and to trump New South Wales this year! It’s wonderful for our team, too. We’ve worked hard to establish our reputation as ‘the Xero girls’ here in Canberra.