Attending my first Xerocon in Sydney, Australia and a FIFA Women’s World Cup Final to boot!

Harvest Co-founder Bryan Zhao recently had a chance to attend Xero's marquee event in Sydney, Australia. He spent two eye-opening days gaining insights and exchanging ideas with the team and leadership at Xero, app vendors, and around 3,500 of the most forward thinking accountants in the world.

Ever since Harvest Accounting became part of the Xero partner program in 2018, I’ve always heard so much about the hallmark event, Xerocon, which is dubbed the ‘Coachella for accountants’. You may be wondering: "Accountants actually know how to have fun?" Well, I finally found out for myself when I attended my first ever Xerocon in Sydney Australia between 20-24th August 2023!

Women's World Cup and Welcome

I arrived on a chilly Sunday morning but Sydney gave me a warm welcome with its sunny blue skies. This was an important day as it was the finals of the FIFA Women's World Cup between England and Spain. Xero is the official FIFA Women’s Football partner which demonstrates Xero’s commitment to enable and champion women in football, small businesses, and communities around the world. Harvest Accounting was really fortunate to be the only Singaporean Xero partner to be invited to be a part of this awesome partnership and I got to watch the final live at the Stadium Australia Match Club.

Who would’ve thought that accounting can take you to so many places and to a FIFA World Cup final to boot? The atmosphere amongst the 60,000 fans was electrifying, especially when Spain scored the winning goal of the night!

A day before the actual conference, Cathyrine and Ann arrived from the Philippines and joined me for the Asia Pacific partner welcome drinks hosted by Xero at Circular Quay. There, we caught up with some of the Xero team members from the Asia Pacific team, as well as other fellow accounting firms.

Cathyrine and Ann were interviewed by the Xero team where they shared how far they have traveled to be at Xerocon!

Smarter, Faster, Stronger Together

Day one of Xerocon was full of many exciting moments occurring both at the main stage and breakout sessions. It was invigorating to hear from Xero’s new CEO, Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, share about Xero’s next chapter to help accountants grow their practice who then help their clients succeed and be smarter, faster, stronger together. This really resonated with me alongside 3,500 other accountants and bookkeepers in attendance.

Harvest Accounting is a small business serving small businesses. Everyday, we have to be entrepreneurial, agile and adaptable and we are only as good as how well we can support our clients and win together.

It was exciting to hear that Xero continues to innovate their product and functionalities and likewise, Harvest Accounting will have to keep pace and keep adopting the best workflows and tools to delight our clients. 

There were also opportunities being shared for advisors to evolve in areas like carbon accounting. The economic climate that small businesses are operating in remains challenging and more of these trends were also shared from Xero Small Business Insights

Helping clients maintain a healthy cashflow

Another highlight of day one was when I was invited to be a panelist on a breakout session “Helping your clients maintain a healthy cashflow”. It was a huge honour and privilege to be one of the selected Asia partners to speak at Xerocon (and this being my first Xerocon too!). The session was attended by about 600 accountants and bookkeeping professionals, and I am thankful to share the stage alongside Jeannie Savage, CEO of The Strategic Bookkeper and Karl Durrance, MD ANZ from Stripe.

I went through a case study on how we successfully implemented Xero for a creative agency and helped them to reduce their debtor days from 180 days to 45 days through Xero reminders and online payments. In terms of making payments, I also talked about how pre-accounting with Dext and getting all bills into Xero was important so that we had a good overview of the payables and due dates to help clients plan their cashflow better.

The key takeaway of the session was to ensure that the customers always have a frictionless experience when it comes to making payments so that a business can collect faster and better. At Harvest Accounting, we strive to educate our clients to make full use of various payment options integrated such as Stripe, PayPal, Hitpay, CardUp and PayNow QR codes to accelerate collections.   

More than just the numbers

Day two of Xerocon was even more upbeat with knowledge and sharing. Of course, the most memorable one was Matthew’s feature on the main stage on what it means to be an accountant. This keynote was particularly inspiring as Will Buckley from Xero challenged the profession if we were proud to call ourselves accountants and bookkeepers and that our image needs to be refreshed.

We are no longer people sitting behind the desk performing data entry. We are experts proficient with how data flows to tell a financial story. More than just the numbers.

It is important to articulate the meaning of our profession and it starts with all accounting firms finding a greater purpose and designing beautiful experiences for clients and employees.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) was the main buzzword but the key takeaway was that the true power of AI lies in collaboration with humans. We take comfort that automation will never replace accountants and bookkeepers, but is able to enhance trusted advisory with smarter and more intuitive tools.

We also visited the exhibition hall and caught up with the various app partners.

There were various fun stations, from Barbie-themed bowling, a ride down the slides, massage or haircut in the wellness area to life-sized cereal bowls where you can get milk and cereal as a snack!

Of course, we cannot forget the main highlight - the Xero piggy bank vault! You really have to see it in real life. 

That's a wrap!

Alas, all good things have to come to a wrap and it was time for the Xerocon wrap party which was Paradiso-themed held Sydney’s iconic ivy Bar. There, we were decked out in floral and palm-tree printed shirts and had a great night to celebrate a successful first Xerocon! 

My first Xerocon left me feeling very energised to refresh our firm to deliver more for our clients and attract better talent. One speaker mentioned:

We need to be wildly optimistic about the value we can create and wildly paranoid that we serve our customers well.

Indeed, at Harvest Accounting, it is all about the #HumansOfHarvest, the clients and our team, that we do what we do everyday. Thank you to the Xero team for putting such a memorable and meaningful Xerocon!