Over the 14th and 15th of November, ExCel London played host to one of the most inventive and modern accounting conferences around. As a new apprentice beginning his journey as a bookkeeper, I wasn’t sure if this event was for me, however, it quickly became apparent that it was.
Xerocon gave me the opportunity to better understand the career path I’ve taken, and gain a personal perspective on the current world of accounting.
My aim was to, at the bare minimum, further my understanding of Xero. I wanted to learn how the integration of other apps has helped progress the software to improve how an accountant works on a day-to-day basis.
Energy & excitement
The first thing I noticed was the energy and excitement of the Xero team. I wondered what gave individuals such as the Managing Director of Xero, Gary Turner – a veteran with more than 20 years of experience in accounting – the same enthusiasm as someone who had just started their career yesterday!
Lots to digest
The day began with a lot of information to consume and digest. Gary Turner kicked things off with the opening keynote, highlighting the important themes of the event. This included major software updates, with the navigation of Xero set to change – which is unfortunate for me, as I’ve just started learning to navigate the current Xero layout! Going forward, however, I can see why the new upgrade will provide an advantage to regular Xero users.
The crux of his message was essentially an outline of the conference as a whole: change. He spoke of the transformation in the music industry, from vinyl records and record stores to the launch of Spotify, and application offering access to more than 40 million songs. According to Gary, we are now in the midst of a similar change in accounting; businesses are moving their finances online as everything goes digital.
Efficiency & enjoyment
Another interesting talk I attended was from the Chief Product and Partner Officer of Xero, Anna Curzon. This entailed the ideal way to run your practice, and what is required of a bookkeeper to be efficient, which personally gave me a few pointers in the way I should present myself when eventually handling my own clients. She discussed methods such as making clients feel like they’re a priority, as they would want to believe their bookkeeper actually cares, as well as being technically competent while also having industry knowledge.
She gave a few opinions that small businesses had shared regarding the impact of Xero. For example, they enjoy their business more; they feel their accounting-related work has been reduced due to Xero’s features, and thanks to those features they now work 6 hours less per week – how great is that?
Across the hallway from the main stage, a range of terrific exhibitors were on hand to share their expertise and demo their apps. From PayPal to Futrli, and iCompleat to Receipt Bank, it was a great opportunity to get to know the Xero ecosystem that little bit better. Plus, with swag ranging from pens and notebooks to socks and t-shirts, I certainly had my hands full!
Of the 75 exhibitors, my personal favourite was Receipt Bank. They offered a free demo, which helped me understand exactly how the app could benefit both clients and accountants, and took me through how it integrated with Xero. As a bonus, they also threw in a free document scanner worth £150!
A real inspiration
Ironically, the most influential talk of the day had absolutely nothing to do with accounting. Royal Marine Ben McBean took to the stage to share his story of incredible bravery and resilience. Ben stood on an IED in Afghanistan, losing his left arm and right leg, but, as he explained, he did not let this define him.
His message was transferable to many careers or situations, and I quickly realised that nothing in life should ever hold you back. As Ben said, “if you know what you want, you can wake up and fight for it.”
Who knew an accounting conference would be so inspirational?