Xerocon Melbourne 2017 is fast approaching, early-bird tickets are soon to end, and the pre-event buzz is building. But what’s the big deal and why is it so unique? And what value do other accountants and bookkeepers see in the opportunity?
We spoke to Steve Warwick, CA, and Janet Collard, CPA, from Brisbane-based bookkeeping firm Reconciled to hear what they gained from last year’s event – and why they plan to take their whole team this year.
The change between two worlds
“Janet and I have a team of seven bookkeepers, and everyone has come from the old world to the new,” says Steve. “By that I mean we work with people who have great bookkeeping and commercial experience, but who also recognise that the industry and their world is changing.”
Steve’s own blend of commercial finance skills and forward thinking has been well honed. He worked at Coopers & Lybrand (now PWC) and held senior positions in London with Deutsche Bank, ABN AMRO, and Schroders Investment Limited, before returning to Australia to cofound Reconciled.
“As founders, it’s our job to help our staff switch to a modern way of thinking and working,” he says. “Everyone enjoys that journey and the opportunities that come with it. And that’s why we’ll be taking all our staff to Xerocon this year.”
The secret to sustainable business
For Steve and Janet, putting in time to understand the future of their industry is a necessary part of running a successful and sustainable business.
“If you think in a purely traditional sense, the way we think of bookkeepers and accountants is rapidly changing,“ says Steve. “Reconciled is a Xero-only bookkeeping practice. First and foremost we provide our clients with systematic, cloud bookkeeping services. And while cloud technology and the emergence of AI and outsourcing is disrupting traditional services, it is bringing with it new opportunities.
“For both Janet and myself, it is imperative that we balance running a growing practice and ensuring that we remain contemporary and well-placed to take advantage of these new opportunities.
“To do that, we need to take not only ourselves but also our staff on that journey. It’s opening up in real time, and it is impacting us all. It’s important that we recognise the impacts of the changing landscape together.”
See things in a different light at Xerocon
For a company so focused on the future, a structured opportunity to hear from fellow accountants, bookkeepers, industry influencers, and thought leaders from across Australia, New Zealand and Asia is too good an opportunity to miss.
“Our industry changes became so apparent at the last Xerocon conference,” explained Janet. “There were so many different people from so many different places. They were all talking about what’s changing in the industry and how Xero is changing, too.
“Even the number of add-on partners at the conference was just phenomenal. It helps us see things a different light. It informs how we think about the future of Reconciled and the roles that we need our staff to undertake. As amazing as the technology is, good people are key. At last year’s Xerocon, Steve and I knew we needed our staff to encounter first-hand the changes that are breaking across our industry.”
A moment of pause to consolidate your ideas
Back at the office, Steve and Janet continually take time to think and reimagine their practice in three to five years’ time.
“I think the advent of AI technology will go some way to supersede some of the manual labour, but it won’t replace expertise, process and client and advisor support,” says Janet.
“It’s fun to think about, because we love the flexibility and excitement of what’s happening in the industry.
“We love filling in the blind spots by thinking of better ways for accountants, bookkeepers and technology to work together. That’s the kind of forward thinking that should be continued.”
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