From XU Magazine, 
Issue 24

Xavier and Receipt Bank creating ‘advice accountants’ through new platform

Receipt Bank is undergoing a pivot. Recognising accountants and bookkeepers are being asked to advise clients on a broader spectrum of business challenges, the company best known for bookkeeping productivity is expanding what its products can deliver.

In a recent interview CEO Adrian Blair signalled his intention for Receipt Bank to become the “essential software stack” for practitioners with the acquisition of Xavier. An award winning toolkit for Xero users, Xavier is the first step to “power the shift from compliance to advisory”, according to Blair.

Now part of a multiproduct platform, Receipt Bank’s software offers the most effective way to fetch all paperwork to one place and to sort, organise and categorise it automatically. The Receipt Bank Practice Platform delivers insights on bookkeeping processes, while the Xavier dashboard gives deep financial KPIs on all clients.

Blair has described the two products as “extremely complimentary” with “many customers using both”.  The combination of Receipt Bank and Xavier offers practitioners more accurate data in real time to deliver business critical advice on cashflow and financial performance.  

For Xavier co-founder Simon Williams, accurate data is the cornerstone of accurate advice.

“Xavier can access financial information outside of set fields and sales categories. If there’s something that plugs into the accounting system incorrectly, we’re able to spot that and feed it back to Receipt Bank. It works like a cycle. Both products will get better and better.”

We asked Will Farnell, Founder of Farnell Clarke Accountants to put  your questions to Simon Williams, following the addition of Xavier to Receipt Bank’s platform.

Will: What inspired the development of Xavier?

Simon: I came from an accounting practice that works with a lot of SMBs. We wanted to give as much insight and value to our client base as we could in the most cost-effective way. Many can’t afford what larger firms can in terms of reporting and insights.

Yet, we found that the quality of the data at our disposal wasn’t good enough to offer better insights. We spent a lot of time doing things that were not adding value to the customer.

At the outset, all the co-founders came together and decided to build an application based on a choose your own adventure/cash flow story. For example, if you were starting a business and wanted to add two new employees, we would use your financial information as the base of that story but alternate the scenarios.

As we went deeper, we found that actually the story itself was not very good. Because the data was not very good. We decided to focus on data quality, automating that data quality and providing insight on both the automation and data cleanup.

Will: How should an accountant or bookkeeper explain the value of Xavier to their business clients?

Simon: There was one example where an accountant client of ours ran a health check through Xavier for the first time. They found £35,000 worth of miscoded transactions for the business they were serving, which meant that their client got all that money back for the future.

Will: And Xavier offers a health check for business data?

Simon: That’s right. The Xavier Health Score is used by many practices to tangibly rate their client’s data, before you start working with them. It can also be used to keep track of individual team and client progress, and show the performance of your practice.

The simple idea is to improve accounting quality and give clients a better picture of their finances through clean-up and health check tools.

At its core Xavier can be used to spot errors in an instant to quickly clean up client data and avoid costly mistakes. Health checks are run by our users as part of their compliance process to reduce bookkeeping errors, track team progress and client performance over time.

Which specific Xavier features can prompt an immediate conversation with a client?

Will: Xavier enables firms to easily assess and highlight the quality of data in a client’s or prospective client’s Xero file. The ability to highlight bookkeeping errors opens a natural opportunity for firms to discuss the value they can add by taking on the bookkeeping work for the client. For me this is key. Firms need to own the end-to-end process and this starts with the bookkeeping enabling deeper client relationships and in turn greater experiences for the client.

Simon:  The first thing I would highlight is data quality. The second thing is that we are able to spot particular trends in this data. So using Xavier and Receipt Bank, an accountant can indicate to their client too much of a reliance on one supplier or a decrease in net assets. This is a good indicator that the business isn’t doing as well.

These are key KPIs that we want to build into Xavier. I think there’s a number of areas where we have the data available so the accountant can look through their customer base and prioritise the ones that really need additional service. This is not only valuable for the end user because they see the accountant offering them advisory services. It’s also good for the accountant - they can offer more value-add services, and unlock new revenue streams

Will: How do you think the dynamic between a business and their accountant is evolving and what role do you see Xavier, as part of Receipt Bank, playing in that.

Simon: When I was working in practice people traditionally might have seen accountants as a bit of a postbox - and said to themselves we want to give you information but actually I’ll run the business myself and come to you when I need to.

I found that a lot of small companies didn’t have what they needed to be able to move quickly - information isn’t real unless it’s in real time. You need to have the systems in place that allow businesses to both give and get access to important financial information. So you can tell them what their sales or expenditure were on a given day.

Businesses want to better understand how they’re performing, what their KPIs are. What should we look into in the future? What does the business growth look like?

And what we can do in that process is make sure you’re not spending your time cleaning up the data, to ensure you have it at your fingertips and can use it to create business benchmarks and KPIs to advise your clients.

Will: More and more millennial and Gen Z business owners are demanding a different kind of service. This will continue to drive firms to shift from offering real time data as an add on service to it being the default. Receipt Bank and Xavier combined make this an even more compelling development. How does Xavier play into this?

Simon: There will still be a real need for the human interaction between the accounts and the business user. I think that relationship is really important. In a way, the first advisor that a business gets is their accountant. What I see is that there’ll be less time spent on the traditional accounting processes. It will be a lot more real-time information.

Why leave it there?

Xavier is currently available to all Xero users. The ambition is to extend the offering to Xero users globally, and gradually, to users of alternative general ledgers.

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