Xerocon is a must-do experience for all of our accounting and bookkeeping partners. As Xerocon Brisbane approaches, we talk to Justin Keen, from Cloud Accountants, about his journey with Xero, and his experiences attending Xerocon.
How did you first join Xero?
I began my personal journey with Xero back in the UK, working for Xero in a small sales team when the product was still in its early stages. I knew that when I moved back to New Zealand I wanted to start up an accounting firm, so the experience was invaluable. I started Cloud Accountants in 2009, and we became the first 100% Xero accounting firm in 2010.
Tell us about your Xerocon journey
The first Xerocon I went to was in Taupo in 2011 – it was the second Xerocon ever and it was such a special and fun time. Xero held its first awards ceremony and I was lucky enough to win the award for Partner Website of the Year. There was only about 30 of us there – enough to fit into a small room. And apart from missing one Xerocon in Australia, I’ve been to every one since then.
Xerocon has changed a lot since I first started attending. Back then, the best thing about it was that they were a very intimate and small event. You knew everyone in the room, so it felt like a family catch up. These days it’s grown to become such a massive event that it feels like you are at a rockstar concert. I get blown away every time I go – so much goes into the organisation of it and it was astounding just to be there.
Xerocon keeps getting better. My favourite one so far has to be last year’s in Melbourne. I brought my wife along to the after party and she was absolutely taken aback. She had been to the after-party before where we used to sit around a dinner table with other accountants. That was a very intimate bonding experience. But this was out of this world. It was a massive event with DJs, flamethrowers, and bands – there was so much going on, it was just extraordinary.
What are you looking forward to most at this year’s Xerocon?
After the first three or four Xerocon’s some of us got to a stage where we thought we knew everything, and that there was not much more to learn by attending another one. But I quickly discovered that you can always get something out of Xerocon to help further your career. Whether its product development, advice on the future of the industry, or networking with like-minded partners, it’s an invaluable experience.
What I’m looking forward to most at this year’s conference is seeing what the future of the accounting industry is going to look like – taking a look at what’s new and upcoming. I’m also excited to see the new add on partners in the ecosystem to see what other products I can broaden my platform with. And of course, chatting to other fellow accountants and seeing what they’re using, and where they are on their journey. It’s a very social event. It facilitates communication, so it’s easy to get the most out of the time spent with other accountants.
If you had to choose one piece of advice for accounting professionals today, what would it be?
Embrace the technology. So many accountants and accounting firms are stuck in the traditional moulds of using older systems that aren’t online. I would encourage them to make this change sooner rather than later, so that they can learn how to use it to their advantage.
It’s still a challenge for accountants to understand where the future is going to take us. We get scared about AI taking over our jobs. But I think the relationships you build with your clients are always going to be so valuable. They can’t be replaced by automation. Sure, AI can take over the processing and data automation, but that’s why the relationships you create and maintain with your clients will become even more important in the future. I think they will become the key to your success as an accountant.
What would you say to accountants who are considering attending Xerocon this year?
Just do it. Don’t even think about it. It’s not about the cost – you’ll recoup it in your first few hours of the conference because there’s just so much to learn and take in. Take your team, embrace the event and take in all the knowledge that you can so you can better yourselves. You just gotta do it.