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A New Zealand Xero Awards winner shares why entering is definitely worth it

July 25, 2022

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It’s time for the 2022 New Zealand Xero Awards, celebrating the accountants, bookkeepers, app partners and integrators who help Kiwi small businesses flourish.

If you’ve been thinking of entering, you’ll love reading what Michael Parker, director of Crux Advice & Accounting has to say. Last year the Crux team won the Small Accounting Partner of the Year Award and they were also a finalist for the People’s Choice Award. Today they’re still benefiting from the trust, credibility, brand awareness and client referrals that a Xero Award helps build.

Tell us a bit about Crux and your team

I founded Crux in 2018 with my business partner Nathan Silcock. We’re located in Nelson, New Zealand. We had both worked at a more traditional firm and wanted to solve some of the pain points we saw clients experiencing. We wanted to offer something different.

Our core purpose is empowering humans in business. That means understanding the person behind the business, what their motivations are and what drives them. Then we tailor our advice to help them achieve those goals.

We’re big proponents of technology, including Xero and the Xero ecosystem. We see technology as an enabler for humans and want to use it to teach our clients to work smarter, not harder.

We’ve grown pretty quickly from when we started and now have a team of nine. They’re really skilled people and we are where we are today because of them.

Who are your clients?

We’re focused on small to medium sized businesses. We like working with forward-thinking people who need more than compliance accounting. We want to be their partner, helping them with planning and forecasting, and keeping them accountable to their action plans.

While our base is heavily concentrated in the Nelson area, we’re expanding throughout the country. With cloud technology, it’s easy to do business anywhere. So ultimately, it doesn’t matter where a client is based, what matters is what their needs are, who they are as a person and how well we’ll be able to work with them.

Why did you enter the Xero Awards in 2021?

Our team had done an amazing job for our clients despite it being a really hard year with COVID-19. We wanted to shine a light on the work we’d done as a firm and the impact that it had on clients’ businesses. A motivating factor was to share some of our success stories.

We wanted to achieve a Xero Award because of the trust and credibility it brings to the brand. We thought it would make it easier to attract clients from other regions who align with who we are and our purpose.

How did you find the nomination process and pulling your entry together?

I quite enjoyed the process and reflecting on what we’d accomplished over the year. I looked at how we were using Xero compared to a year ago and the advancements we’d made with it and the ecosystem. I got input from Nathan and the team on what I’d share in our entry. I also thought about the impact we’d had on our clients since many of them told us what they were sharing in their People’s Choice Award nomination for us. They were quite heartfelt.

How did you feel when you heard you were a finalist?

Well, we were a finalist in the Small Accounting Partner of the Year Award and the People’s Choice Award so we were stoked! It was awesome because we knew when we set up Crux that we were going to be a Xero partner through and through – that’s where our loyalty lies.

It was always our goal to be a finalist so when we saw our name pop up for not just one, but two awards, that was amazing.

What was it like to attend the award event and hear your name called out?

Even though COVID-19 circumstances meant the event was online, Xero did a great job so we could see and engage with other finalists. Xero also sent us a care package to share together on the night. We all watched from our boardroom and it was good fun.

We’d been so happy to be finalists that it was a bit of a shock to hear Crux called out as Small Accounting Partner of the Year, especially because the calibre of the other finalists was so high. It was awesome – we all went out to dinner afterwards and celebrated as a team.

Then we used our prize money for a team trip. We went in a helicopter to Golden Bay, went to a distillery, had lunch and drinks and flew back over the Abel Tasman. It was incredible since most of us had never been in a helicopter before.

What has winning meant for your business and team?

Winning has been great for our brand awareness. We did an editorial on Stuff with Malloch McClean, another Nelson firm, who won Large Accounting Partner of the Year. It was a great way to celebrate local firms on the national stage.

Also, to be recognised by Xero breaks down barriers with prospective clients because Xero is such a well-regarded brand in New Zealand. The award makes a huge difference because clients trust us when we want to introduce a new service. They know we’re suggesting it for their own good. With trust, things become easier.

The win was also a really proud moment for the team. Working for an award-winning firm is something they can put on their CVs. They made a massive contribution and we couldn’t have done it without all of them.

What impact has the win had on your clients?

Our clients have been so supportive. They can say, “Hey, we work with Crux. They’re a Xero award-winning firm.” They feel confident in talking about us and it’s resulted in quite a lot of referrals.

People who are researching accounting firms get in touch and when we meet them, they say, “We saw that you’re award winners.” The awareness has spread to banks and lawyers as well so our referral network has grown. It’s pretty clear that we’re getting noticed and it makes a positive impression.

What words of wisdom do you have for partners who are thinking of entering the Xero Awards?

If you’re making a meaningful difference to your clients’ businesses and lives, you’re a good candidate for a Xero Award. You don’t have to be the biggest firm – we’re not. And you don’t have to have the fanciest office.

It’s really about starting with your ‘why’, what your core purpose is as a firm. Then link that through to how you’re using Xero and the ecosystem to enable your clients to work smarter in their businesses. Make it personal and show the impact you’re having.

Take the time and do your entry properly – I did and it’s been incredibly worth it!

Share your story

With so many great reasons to enter, what are you waiting for?

In addition to the team and business benefits that a Xero Award can bring you, this year there’s an epic Xero Awards prize pack to win. It includes $5,000 towards a team celebration, a $5,000 marketing boost program from Bizink and more.

To make sure you’re in it to win it, submit your nomination by 8 August 2022.

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