XU: We’re joined at day two of Accountex by Sabby, the CEO of Dext. How are you finding it in your new role?
SG: I’m absolutely loving it, I’ve been here just over seven months now. The great thing about working for an organisation like Dext is being back in the accounting and bookkeeping space. I’ve previously worked for Sage for a number of years, so it’s great being able to come back into it and have that passion back again, for something that I absolutely love. I just love the thrill of working with accountants and bookkeepers, they’re so integral to growth around GDP economies.
When we’ve got five and a half million small businesses in the UK, they don’t necessarily have everything that they need, such as the expertise and experience of how to run a business properly, especially from an accounting, legislation, regulatory and compliance perspective. I’d like to think that Dext plays a major part in that, around the efficiency and effectiveness of their practice, giving them more time back, which is probably the number one thing I would say is the most critical thing that everybody craves for. Just the ability to get back time, whether that’s spending that time back in their own business or just taking time out for them personally.
Being back in fintech has been a real eye-opener in relation to technology and emerging technology. A lot’s changed in the two years that I’ve been away, which you can tell by just looking at the number of organisations that are here at Accountex. We have more people attending as I’m sure after Covid there was that sort of yearn for having social engagement and interaction. We could never have done this over Zoom in the same way that we can do this sort of conversation face to face.
XU: Dext has been around for a while. I’d say it’s been one of the flagship companies for innovation within the fintech community. It was one of the main companies that was integrating with apps like Xero, Sage and QuickBooks and was really driving that change towards digitisation amongst the accountant and bookkeeping community, moving away from paper receipts and into a more digital world.
How do you see Dext’s journey over the next three to five years, in terms of continuing to drive that innovation and being one of the companies at the forefront of that continued change and evolvement?
SG: It’s a great point, we are probably the preeminent pre-accounting solution. We’re at the forefront of any flow that you could possibly imagine. We’ve got some other inroads into receivables, mainly because of legislation changes in places like France and Australia. But for us, it’s really about continuing the journey we’re on. We will be the best at extraction, whether it is paper, whether it is digital. We have an e-commerce solution that works with people like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Shopify, all of those organisations.
If you are a small business and you operate on any one of those platforms, you still want the ability to extract invoice information and load it up. Today, we are on a great journey. We do 330 million transactions on an annual basis. The data quality is sitting at 99% of the information that we extract, 75% plus of all of those are using the latest, greatest technology such as applied AI.
Really, it’s about making sure that we continue that journey because so many organisations are dependent on that type of efficiency and effectiveness. There’s other things that we’re also thinking about, you’ll hear more about it over the next few months, looking at how we can expand the value and the stickiness of our applications, and how much more we can do to make organisations more effective and efficient in the way they go about processing and working on behalf of clients. I won’t let too much away, but there is some real exciting innovation, potentially some M&A activity that we are looking at. We are on a really powerful journey and over the next couple of years it’s going to be an exciting time.
XU: Where’s your focus on a global perspective - have you got areas that you are going to be specifically looking at moving forward? Also, multilingual is always a big question that’s asked of everybody. What’s your thoughts on that at the moment?
SG: We’re in the major economies of the world that are more Anglo-Saxon, and also you have to think about accounting models. If you think about where our strengths play, we’re strong here in the UK, Canada and Australia, who all have similar accounting type models around VAT, GST, sales tax, whatever you want to call it. So, very strong presence in those geographies, which is also where the three general ledger integrators, Sage, Xero and QuickBooks, are all major players already. So, we’ll continue that journey in those particular jurisdictions. We’re also really strong in France, so that multilingual extraction engine, being able to do multi-language extraction and capability, we have that but it gives us an opportunity to go elsewhere.
It’s probably the one thing that I’m sure everybody thinks about, do I expand in more geographies and try and take on more, sometimes, complexity? It’s not easy setting up a new geography, jurisdiction, region or any of that stuff, but for us, the market’s big enough where we already operate, and I think more value that we can provide in those particular markets is important.
There’s huge opportunity in North America, it’s very close to the Canadian market. Intuit is very strong there and we have a great partnership. We have some great alliances over there that literally turn around, and when they set up their financial operations, they’ll say, unless you’ve got Dext and Intuit, we won’t actually take you on as a business. It’s very strong and powerful to have that sort of relationship.
We’ve got relationships like that globally with Sage and with Xero and other partners. We just want to continue on the journey that we’re already on, but provide more value in the geographies we’re already in, before we try and take on the rest of the world.
XU: How does it feel to be back at Accountex? There’s a lot of you here at the Dext stand, people in orange absolutely everywhere doing tons of demos.
How has it been out in the wild, seeing the team interact with people, and what’s your view on the conference so far?
SG: This Accountex has been brilliant for us over the last two days. Everybody is tired, but it’s been very powerful. I think people forget about how important relationships are. A relationship on Zoom is not a relationship. Looking at people, looking in the whites of their eyes, looking at clients and being able to have a proper strategic discussion is really key. That’s very much what we’ve been concentrating on. People always talk about, is it worth it, do you get the value, and everything else, but sometimes, the value is in the relationship and the partnership rather than how many leads or enquiries.
For me, it’s more about just having a presence, having a place that everybody knows that we’re going to be there, being able to see all the 50 people that we have here in orange T-shirts and very visible. It’s been a great show, and I saw that the footfall is 20% up from last year, and there’s even more people in the community, and more apps being provided. It’s exciting times with new emerging technologies and new capabilities coming to market. It’s always keeping us on our toes, and that’s the reason why over the next couple of months, we’ll share more, but I think there’s a real opportunity for Dext just to continue on the journey that it’s already on, and Accountex is a great platform to do that.