Ask the expert: Cloud computing

Damon Anderson, Director of Partner & Product, UK & EMEA, Xero

Damon Anderson

Online accounting

Q. Why should accountants embrace online accounting?

A. The real value of online accounting is that it gives you the gift of more time. By automating manual tasks — and eliminating data entry — online accounting platforms give you the time to concentrate on what’s important to you and your firm. For example, if you’re focused on compliance, it allows you to do more work than ever. Or if you’re wanting to branch out into advisory services, then the time is freed up to expand into this important growing market.

Q. What’s a common mistake to avoid when setting up your firm with online accounting?

A. One of the biggest mistakes that firms make when they’re new to online accounting is focusing on apps in the wrong order. Our industry report indicates that below-average-performing firms tend to start their app journey with “popular” apps that avoid touching their core systems. These include apps for instant messaging and social marketing. Whilst these apps are useful, the data show that adopting apps that focus on making your practice more efficient first is by far the best way to achieve rapid growth.

Q. How do accountants convince clients to step away from spreadsheets?

A. Many accountants worry that their clients won’t be open to online accounting, especially if they’re the sort who bring in a bag of receipts at the end of a tax year or show up with a spreadsheet. The trick is to talk to your clients and find out if they’d prefer a less time-consuming method than working with spreadsheets.

Q. How do you grow your firm whilst implementing online accounting?

A. There’s no reason why growth should stall while you’re getting sorted with online accounting. One of the most effective ways to grow and scale is to look for, or accept, new clients who are already using online accounting. Many of the fast-growing firms we spoke to say this is the number one reason they’re able to grow revenue without overextending themselves or hiring in large numbers.

Q. What’s the next big change affecting accountants?

A. Making Tax Digital (MTD) will transform HMRC into one of the world’s most advanced tax systems. Starting 1 April 2019, MTD for VAT (value-added taxes) will require most firms and businesses with a turnover above the VAT registration threshold of £85,000 to keep records online and submit VAT returns digitally using compatible software like Xero. Xero has been working closely with HMRC to develop functionality that allows accountants to submit VAT returns directly from within the software.

If you’re an accountant in a firm, sign up for the Xero Partner Programme, where you’ll get the tools, resources, and dedicated account management to help get your practice and clients set up. Visit or email to get started.

Damon Anderson is an international leader in fintech with over 15 years of experience delivering cutting-edge digital marketing and payments technology. As director of Partner & Product at Xero, he understands the ins and outs of accounting and bookkeeping. With extensive fintech experience, he understands how regulatory challenges like Making Tax Digital can become opportunities for partners.


Our beautiful cloud-based accounting software connects people with the right numbers anytime, anywhere, on any device. For accountants and bookkeepers, Xero helps build a trusted relationship with small business clients through online collaboration. For more information on the Xero Partner Programme, visit