As the sun sets on the city of Sydney, accounting and bookkeeping professionals from across the globe gathered at the ICC Sydney for the much-anticipated annual event – Xerocon Sydney 2023. Coined the ‘Coachella for accountants’, this year’s conference lived up to its reputation, delivering a power-packed experience that left attendees inspired and equipped with invaluable insights.

From August 23 to 24, Xerocon Sydney transformed the ICC Sydney into a hub of innovation, collaboration, and excitement. AdvanceTrack’s team had the privilege of attending this transformative event once again, and we’re thrilled to share our reflections on the highlights and takeaways.

The event opened with the charismatic presence of Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, Xero’s CEO, making her first-ever appearance on the Xerocon stage. In her engaging talk, she emphasised the pivotal role of the advisory community in shaping the future of small business success. With just six months at the helm, Sukhinder’s passion for purpose and partnerships resonated deeply with the audience, setting an optimistic tone for the entire conference.

A major highlight was the introduction of Diya Jolly, Xero’s new Chief Product Officer, who provided insightful glimpses into the latest products and connections that amplify collaboration, efficiency, and value across the platform. This showcase marked a departure from the norm, presenting Xero’s offerings in a reimagined format that captivated both newcomers and returning partners.

The event’s lineup of guest speakers was nothing short of exceptional. Julia Zemiro, the iconic Australian TV personality, charmed the audience as the host, bringing her signature wit and warmth. Lisa MacCallum, former Nike Vice President, took the stage on day one, delivering a talk that melded business acumen with sustainability. Her insights on driving ethical business practices left a lasting impression, emphasising small businesses’ pivotal role in fostering environmental responsibility.

The second day brought a thought-provoking session by Sam Elsom, an environmentalist and entrepreneur who delved into the realm of sustainable practices and ethical manufacturing. Mark Pesce, a distinguished futurist and entrepreneur, rounded off the event with a captivating exploration of AI’s influence on the accounting industry. His decades of experience in the digital revolution space illuminated the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

One of the most anticipated aspects of Xerocon Sydney has always been the legendary wrap party. This year, the ‘Paradiso’ theme transformed Sydney’s ivy bar into a tropical oasis. Attendees donned neon ensembles, embraced inflatable flamingos, and danced the night away to the beats of Sneaky Sound System. The poolside venue and vibrant atmosphere created a night to remember, fostering connections and memories that will last long after the event concludes.

Reflecting on Xerocon Sydney 2023, the sense of community and collaboration was palpable. We at AdvanceTrack found the event to be an invaluable resource for gaining insights into the latest trends, technologies, and best practices. The emphasis on sustainable practices, technological innovation, and the evolving role of finance professionals left us inspired and excited for the future of the industry.

Looking ahead, Xerocon 2024 is already on the horizon, this time happening closer to home in London and promising another immersive experience of learning, networking, and celebration. As we continue our journey to become the leading outsourcing partner for accounting firms in the UK, Australia and worldwide, industry conferences serve as essential touchpoints for staying informed, inspired, and connected with industry leaders and peers.

Xerocon Sydney 2023 surpassed all expectations, standing as a beacon of innovation, collaboration, and visionary thinking. Boasting an extraordinary array of speakers, reimagined showcases, and an indelible wrap party, the event instilled attendees with a rejuvenated purpose and a palpable enthusiasm for what lies ahead. As the curtain falls on this year’s conference, we’re counting down the days until the next Xerocon, sparking anticipation for the multitude of opportunities it holds to elevate the accounting and bookkeeping industry across the ANZ region and beyond.

We’re headed down under to Xerocon Sydney 2023, where inspiration, connection, and innovation come alive in one electrifying event! Like you, the AdvanceTrack team is excited to be a part of this incredible two-day gathering of like-minded accountants, bookkeepers, and the wider Xero community.

We all know Xerocon is a conference like no other; it’s an experience that leaves you inspired and equipped with valuable insights to apply back home and with memories of never-ending parties to boot! This is your chance to uncover the full potential of your accounting practice and stay ahead in the ever-changing market.

Why Are We Excited about Xerocon?

For us, Xerocon is a unique opportunity to connect with a vibrant community of professionals who share our passion for accounting and technology. We look forward to sharing our success stories and hearing about the exciting developments coming to Xero, which will undoubtedly shape the future of accounting practices worldwide.

Insights from Visionaries

The lineup of keynote speakers at Xerocon Sydney 2023 is nothing short of extraordinary. These visionaries will shed light on diverse topics that are pivotal to the accounting industry’s future. Here are a few you won’t want to miss:

Diya Jolly: Xero’s Chief Product Officer, an experienced leader passionate about small businesses. Her insights into Xero’s product vision will empower you to leverage the platform effectively.

Sam Elsom: CEO of Seaforest, an environmentalist and entrepreneur with a focus on sustainability. His thoughts on how small businesses can make a difference through ethical practices are invaluable in today’s world.

Mark Rees: As Xero’s Chief Technology Officer, Mark is an expert in scaling platforms and driving innovation. His talk will illuminate new technologies and their impact on the industry.

Mark Pesce: A renowned futurist, inventor, and educator who clarifies complex topics like AI and fintech. Prepare to be inspired and enlightened.

James Bergin: Xero’s Executive General Manager for Technology Strategy & Integration. James will explore the implications of AI, ChatGPT, blockchain, and crypto for your practice and clients.

Louise Southall: A seasoned economist and Xero Economist with three decades of experience, Louise will share her insights on macroeconomic trends and their impact on small businesses.

Wrapping that up, Xero’s new CEO, Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, will also be onstage for the first time this year. We’re excited to hear what her plans are to steer Xero’s growth and development as a multi-billion dollar global business into a future filled with the promise and challenges of automation.

Tips to Navigate the Conference

Whether you’re a seasoned Xerocon veteran or a first-timer, here are some tips from the AdvanceTrack team to make the most of this year’s Con:


  • Prepare and Research: Understand who will be present and identify key sessions and exhibitors that align with your interests.


  • Dress Comfortably: Leave your formal suits at home; Xerocon is all about a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Opt for a casual yet professional look.


  • Network and Connect: Take advantage of the community spirit and network with like-minded professionals. Organise meetings with potential partners and clients, and don’t miss the App Partner side events. By fostering these connections, you not only expand your network but also gain valuable perspectives and ideas that can shape the future of the accounting profession. The #IgnitionPrecon party is our top choice. See you there!


  • Explore Breakout Sessions: Attend breakout sessions, especially those with App Partner exhibitors, to discover cutting-edge solutions to enhance your practice. 
  • Don’t forget to have fun! Prove that it won’t be all numbers and tech; accountants can party too! 

Find us at the ICC Sydney from August 23 to 24, 2023. We’d love to chat with you about our journey and how we can help your practice reach new heights. Relive the story of how we helped a 15-partner regional practice deliver 600 personal tax returns and boost their revenue by a staggering $300,000 during the tax season.

The clock is ticking, and the anticipation is building! Secure your spot at Xerocon Sydney 2023 by registering on the website. This is your chance to experience the future of accounting, network with industry experts, and explore groundbreaking solutions that can revolutionise your practice.

Let’s make Xerocon Sydney 2023 an unforgettable event together. We can’t wait to see you there! 

As private equity helps practices ‘bulk up’, what should smaller practices do that want to control their own destiny?

The accounting news is regularly filled with information about exciting practice mergers and acquisitions. These deals are now much more likely to be backed by external financing – typically in the form of private equity.

This second wave of consolidation in the market is a staggering 20 years on from the first wave; the early noughties saw a number of major players form but collapse under the weight of growing too quickly, often paying too much, and struggling to create a governance and ownership model that allowed the firm to develop.

But times have moved on, and a lot of water has gone under the bridge. In a world where more clients require more support, and real-time bookkeeping and tax filing is on the horizon, where do smaller practices fit?

The new-wave consolidators will argue that they are creating mass to enable them to offer lots of specialist services, backed by back-office automation and efficiency to help maintain (or improve) their margins. However, this will inevitably lead to smaller clients being priced out of these firms’ offerings – surplus to requirements.

Bigger practices also have more flexibility, more options, around their resourcing strategy – they can outsource and offshore tasks but still retain a workforce that they can train and develop. Smaller practices are at the sharp end as far as recruitment is concerned.

Australia’s accounting development

AdvanceTrack’s development in Australia has allowed me to understand the structure of their accountancy market. It certainly has fewer generalist practices than the UK. In particular there are lots of small firms offering high-volume processing or niche, focused firms.

It’s increasingly likely that this will develop into a self-service model, where clients’ accounting and tax information is retrieved automatically and then checked, validated, by an accounting professional.

But we also see in the UK that many smaller firms have specialist, niche knowledge in particular sectors – whether, for example, it’s academies, farming or dentistry. Others focus on technical specialisms such as VAT or R&D.

Decision time

Firms need to make big decisions around their direction of travel, and how they’re going to deliver that offering. Skillsets, technology, operational structure and governance should all form part of that discussion.

The quicker you move the quicker you will be able to differentiate from the competition.

Vipul Sheth is founder and MD of AdvanceTrack Outsourcing

We are working with practices who are automating and outsourcing tasks to free up their people’s time to better support clients. We’d love to speak to you about supporting your practice’s development – you can contact us by clicking here.

AdvanceTrack is proud of its latest ISO certification for business continuity – but what does it all really mean and why is it so important for clients?

Kevin Reed steps into the shoes of existing and potential clients to ask Vipul Sheth, MD, to explain why they should be comforted by this ‘badge of business resilience’

What is the ISO and this particular ‘standard’?

It’s an international measurement tool of competence and excellence in a particular area to demonstrate the use of best practice across a range of areas…we also have ISO 27001:2013 Information Security Management, ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management and British Standard BS10012 Personal Information Management System. It’s great to have an external body review what you as a business are doing in a particular area.

This one is about business continuity and the ability of our business, with very clear direction, to continue to manage the business where events occur that are out of the normal day-to-day business. You just have to take the pandemic as an obvious example – six months ago, we would have thought something like that wouldn’t affect us but now we’re all more cautious about who we do business with and how. We want to give customers the confidence that we are a resilient business.


Why do you think it is important to AdvanceTrack and why now?

It’s important to us as a business because it hit home to our full team that they have a clearer direction of what to do, should certain scenarios present themselves. One of the scenarios we thought about was me dying. I hope to be around a long time, but something like that could be detrimental to the business. If I’m not here, someone has to have my thoughts on how things then move forward. What’s important is that the business continues to operate without me.

The pandemic, rather than applying for the standard, had got us thinking in more depth about what sort of things might happen and to be better prepared to deal with them.

With the pandemic we had a good bunch of people in our team who managed our migration to working from home successfully. If that is to happen again, it’s now enshrined with our formal disaster recovery and business planning processes.

The last few months showed us it is even more important that we demonstrate our ability to cope in incredibly challenging circumstances.


Why is it something that should be of interest to AdvanceTrack’s existing and former clients?

Our existing customers will know about this direction of travel. After our first client comms around the pandemic, one of them said: “We knew you’d have it under control.”

Existing clients see what we do every day, but for someone that doesn’t know us, gaining this certification gives them additional comfort. In very trying circumstances you will know that we have a robust business process to continue to be supported, and that it’s not something being made up as we go along. Gaining the standard means we faced a rigorous stress-testing of processes – of how we operate now and what we might face in the future.


What has been the process of audit and achieving the standard?

It followed the way most of these standards work. There is initially an overview and analysis taken by the standard’s auditors that you have the basis for commencing the certification process. That’s effectively ‘day one’ – auditors come in and look at documentation to support attaining the standard.

Then you also have to have an internal audit process, where you look to identify improvements to address before the ‘actual’ audit. However,
we also used an external body to undertake the internal audit – we didn’t want that stage too ‘friendly’… we went for rigour.

Then in the external process they’re seeking evidence that what we say we can do is actually something that is beyond the documentation. Such as demonstrating how we’d handle our servers going down for example, or one of our buildings suddenly didn’t exist – however unlikely these scenarios may be. It’s then a case of showing how long we could operate without impacting service.


How does it align or complement with other standards you’ve achieved?

We’ve always tried to demonstrate excellence – which is why we already have core standards. Allied to that it’s about showing consistency of delivery – that we’re ‘continuous’. What this has been about has been exactly that, even in trying circumstances.

Before we decided to go with this standard my phone ‘crashed’ and the backup didn’t work. I lost a lot of contact numbers. I told our CTO that this stressed me, and made me think about the business. As a result we ramped up the availability and resilience of our servers, shortly after this event, so we would lose very little data even if there was a huge problem.


How does the standard set you apart from competitors?

There’s a reason why accounting practices work with us and stay for the long term. It’s our consistent approach and high standards from a delivery point of view but also security and infrastructure. Ultimately, I sincerely believe in the abilities of AdvanceTrack’s senior management – that they’re better than our competitors.


What’s the future for AdvanceTrack in context of other certifications and standards? What are your next improvements?

We’re not ruling out other certifications – but these current ones are absolutely at the I’m sure as we evolve then other certifications will become important to us. It’s important to note that we don’t ‘chase’ certifications to puff up what we do. We strive for the best, as I’ve already outlined, in terms of service, security and resilience – these certifications are the upshot of what we do and try to achieve on a daily basis.


What ISO 22301 means for business continuity.

The ISO, in its own words, is an “independent, non-governmental international organisation with a membership of 165 national standards bodies. It uses this vast network to build international standards that are ‘consensus-based’ and

ISO 22301:2019, of which AdvanceTrack has completed certification, focuses on security and resilience. Namely, requirements for robust business continuity management systems.

The certification requires rigour in a number of key areas:

  • Organisational context – an understanding of how the organisation works, for whom, and what that means for the scope of its business continuity requirements
  • Leadership – How the business continuity policy has been formed, and its communication  to interested parties; alongside set roles and responsibilities
  • Planning – The determination of risks and opportunities, alongside addressing them; and establishing and determining business continuity objectives
  • Support – Documentation and resources relating to the plan
  • Operations – Impact analysis; continuity strategies and solutions; implementation of solutions; recovery plans
  • Performance evaluation – Monitoring and assessment by internal audit and management of performance against business continuity metrics
  • Improvement – Corrective actions and continual improvement

Source: ISO (


tech, Xerocon, outsourcing

In September, we were at Xerocon Brisbane. Whilst we were there, we had the opportunity to catch up with our Australian clients, see some new faces and get the latest updates in tech. 

The biggest move we noticed in Australia is the increasing move into SMSF and bookkeeping for clients by accounting firms.  Clients want a holistic service from their trusted friend – their accountant!

Often the two go hand in hand and firms are increasingly asking us to manage the SMSF record keeping for the individual fund, but more importantly, the business owner wants the accountant to look after the business’ financial records.  This trend, which started a while back is turning into a flood, with businesses recognising that their energies are best spent in driving their business forward. 

Their accountant is now better able to help clients with Cashflow management using tools like Float, Fluidly, Fathom and Futrli for example. They can do this, because they are responsible for the regular production of management accountants, all enabled through technology. This was a very important growth area. 

In 2018 we wrote about the top three issues facing Australian firms

Talking with professionals this year in Brisbane we found that outsourcing is becoming more of an accepted way to deliver work. Some firms also wanted to hear about our dedicated offshore resource. 

But most successful firms among them have truly embraced the fact that their role has changed. 

They’re outsourcing as default, from compliance through to reporting, so that they can have a consistently proactive rather than reactive relationship with their clients. 

What moved them to make this decision?

1. They realised they’re not in the business of accounting



A confusing statement for an audience of accountants. 

Our friends at GoProposal wrote a really great blog titled ‘You’re no longer in the Accounting business’.

It’s just as true in Australia as it is in the UK, perhaps even more so. 

When we meet accountants we often find ourselves asking them – what is it that your clients want? Yes, they want to save tax. Yes, they want to know that their affairs are sorted. But what do they really want? What are their goals for the growth of their business, for their family, for their future. 

The successful firms are now in the bigger-picture business. They’re having conversations with their clients about the things that really matter. 

There’s a growing demand for wealth management advice

One of those bigger picture conversations that’s in demand more and more in Australia is wealth management. There’s an increasing need for advice in personal and business wealth strategy, pensions and retirement, and many accountancy firms are filling the gap by moving into wealth advisory services.

As more individuals manage their own pensions with a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF), the work involved is also rapidly growing for those accountants who have moved into the wealth space. This means two things:

  • The firm will be pushed to deliver more compliance work
  • The firm owner needs to free up more time firm-wide to have bigger conversations with clients and offer more value

As these two things happen in tandem, it means more training, stronger systems and consistent processes. This is where the need for outsourcing has become more than just offloading compliance work. At AdvanceTrack, our goal is to help you create the business structure to have the very best conversations with your clients. 

2. They understood they need to create the right environment for today’s staff


We partner with firms in the UK and AUS/NZ and we’re seeing that the same issues arise when it comes to staff retention. Once qualified, if not pushed to their potential, staff are leaving smaller practices for the big accountancy firms or migrating to tech companies. 

Australia is further along than the UK in digital development, and the tech space is an attractive option for graduates who are now learning to add value at an earlier stage in their career. 

At the same time, we’re seeing desktop software being discontinued. BGL, Australia’s leading SMSF admin software, has retired its desktop product in December. 

It’s adapt or be overtaken when it comes to transitioning to new technologies and giving clients real-time information. Business owners can access their finances at the click of a button now, meaning that roles have changed whether we like it or not. Cloud integration specialist, Chief Data Officer, Virtual FD – These are the next generation of job titles.

Your staff already don’t want to be stuck delivering low-level work now, and they won’t want to be stuck delivering low-level work in the future. And remember, it’s not why you became an accountant either! 

The firms who are seeing real growth realised early on that their people are working at the wrong level, and they’re outsourcing their core services to make room for more skilled, challenged and satisfied staff. 

Ask yourself these two questions

If you’re stuck in a compliance cycle right now, and you can’t see a way out of the hamster wheel, first ask yourself:

  • What do my clients really want?
  • What do my staff really want?

Then take a look at how you can go about joining the global community of firms on this outsourcing journey, and realise your new potential as an evolved accountant. 

When accountants come to us, one of the first questions we ask “is outsourcing the answer to your problems?”

Admittedly, it’s a rhetorical question, but it makes you pause and think. We’re always preaching that outsourcing isn’t just about handing over compliance work. It’s about changing the nature of the relationships with your clients, but you can’t do that if you don’t overcome the underlying problems your firm is facing.

On the surface, outsourcing might seem like the answer, but we wanted to take the opportunity to address those issues and how to overcome them, and also how outsourcing might play a part in that.

1. Delivering to deadlines without overworking

Your accountancy firm should be 100% focused around client service delivery, otherwise chances are you won’t be in business for very long. So, what’s changed?

Well, for one, there used to be some downtime between the different projects. This allowed an opportunity to reflect on the project, evaluate the time put in, regroup and plan for the next project. But instead, you’re finishing one project and immediately diving into another!

It’s in large part due to technology. With the advent of Xero and QuickBooks, coupled with receipt scanning apps and reporting tools, your clients have more data than they know what to do with, and it’s your job to handle that.

Because of these increasing changes in the industry, the volume of work is naturally growing, meaning there’s no longer any downtime. You’re doing the work yourself because you don’t have a choice. Sure, you could outsource the day-to-day bookkeeping to free up your time, but deep down that’s not the solution. It’s time management. You need the right tools and people in place to handle projects better, which leads us nicely to problem #2.

2. Implementing new tech

Xero published a report in 2017 that revealed that more than three-quarters of firms still use spreadsheets with their clients. Even more alarmingly, 18% of firms are still working on paper ledgers.

We couldn’t agree more with Xero’s comment that “old methods continue to strangle practice efficiency”. Technology has evolved massively over the past couple of years, but the challenge for accountants is the implementation.

Which software do you choose? Which apps do you offer alongside it? What systems do we need internally? Is this going to improve our speed? What if our clients don’t go along with it?

Those are some of the questions that you’re most likely pondering and rightly so. It’s no small feat implementing new systems, and that’s often the reason most firms hold back. They’re scared of things going wrong, of systems not working, of clients disengaging.

For you to overcome these problems, you’ve got to go beyond your comfort zone and be willing to embrace the change and try new systems. You’ve got to be ready to test and learn and ultimately fail. If you’re not willing to do that yourself, what chance do you have of your clients being willing to try new tech?

It’s about that long-term goal of development and building a better, scalable firm, and it starts with taking that first step of trying something new.

3. Finding the right team

All of the issues mentioned so far come back to your team. A lack of downtime or a lack of systems affects them too, or they’re part of the problem.

If you’re the director of a firm, you could be doing a lot of the work yourself, because you haven’t got the right team members in place to support you. Likewise, you might be hesitant to implement new systems because you’re not sure if your team would be on board as well.

A lot of it comes down to how you recruit. You’re not just recruiting for another person, you’re recruiting for someone who’ll embrace the changing environment. It’s about skill set, engagement, motivation, meaning you’re ultimately looking for someone who is resilient and willing to adapt. That’s the kind of team member that will stick by you, rather than hopping from one firm to the next and leaving you to pick up the pieces.

What’s wrong with this picture?

 It’s a vicious cycle: You’re not delivering to deadlines and/or you have no downtime. That’s caused by not having the right systems in place. This can be the case if you don’t have a willing team or the right team to support you, or even if you’re not delegating enough to them.

So, to go back to our opening question “is outsourcing the answer to your problems”, the answer would be “it depends!”

Outsourcing only truly works when you have addressed the problems we’ve talked about, or you’ve at least started addressing them. As we said at the start, outsourcing is really about changing how you work and interact with your clients, and you can only really do that when you’ve begun to work on the problems with time, technology and your team.

But when you’ve mastered that, and once you go on to building incredible relationships, you’ve got the key to success, and you’re no doubt on track to build a firm poised for amazing things.