Xero launches first UK software to link real-time bank data

THE UK has its first accounting software product that links companies into their bank accounts, allowing them to see their real-time financial position that will “transform” their ability to manage their cash.

Xero, which provides online accounting technology, has launched bank feeds across the UK and Ireland with 55 financial institutions, following 18 months of testing with HSBC.

“Automated bank feeds so profoundly transform a business owner’s ability to manage their cash that we decided that it should be a standard feature for no extra cost, regardless of whether you have one bank account or ten,” said Xero UK managing director Gary Turner.

The technology enables bank transactions to appear automatically inside the accounting application. Manual keying or importing of bank transactions is removed, and the banking data automatically downloads daily into Xero.

Turner believes that accountants will benefit from being able to view their clients’ accounts in real-time. Firstly, many accountants currently provide low-value bank reconciliation services that are time-consuming, which will no longer be required. Secondly, Xero has already seen advisers using the fresh data to watch over their clients’ cashflow position.

“[Advisers] can become virtual CFOs. We’re seeing accountants who on a daily basis do a fly-through of their clients’ accounts. It’s a massive differentiator,” said Turner.

Alex Howarth of Skipton-based accountants Pearson & Associates, which has been involved in testing, said the technology took “time and hassle out” of inputting financial data into systems, and had also changed the firm’s relationship with clients.

“If a client has live bank feeds, it changes the whole dynamic of the relationship. I can walk into my office now, click on to Xero and get customers’ up to date information, so it helps me identify any issues with their business performance that we can help tweak going forward,” said Howarth.

“Before, I wouldn’t have been armed with this information and would have had to rely on last year’s information which is not relevant.”

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