The Practitioner: Will Sage and Xero cut out the middle man…me?

EVERYTHING SEEMS to be going online more and more these days, and whether we like it or not accounting seems to be taking a lead in the online revolution.

Xero now have more than half a million users, and Sage have suddenly realised it’s time they got on board also.

Sage managed to persuade me to take out ten licences for their new online cashbook version at just 99p per licence. To date I’ve only managed to persuade one client that it’s worth a look however.

A few clients have changed over to Xero recently, with one even saying to me that he likes the idea of being able to sit on the toilet and check his weekly figures using the Xero app. Giving clients greater access to their numbers is one thing, but what is really going to change in terms of the quality of the information that is given to us at the year end?

Who’s the client?

I don’t think Xero or Sage really care to be honest. As long as they have clients using their system they seem happy, and it’s tough luck to the accountants that have to tidy up the mess.

Come the year-end, rather than receive a bag of receipts and coffee-stained bank statements, we now receive the electronic equivalent. I know which I’d rather receive to be honest. Unravelling the mess contained in the carrier bag is a lot easier than sorting out mispostings etc online.

A further problem with online accounting (done by clients) is, because they are paying a software provider each month they are then reluctant to pay our regular fee, even though more often than not it takes us longer to sort out than it did previously.

Whichever way I look at it, it seems like our year-end fees for accounts preparation are going to be driven down more and more, until such time as Sage or Xero then start doing online filing from within their software, and throw in a free tax return to boot!

Sssh. Don’t give them any ideas…

The Practitioner’s uncensored thoughts come from within their own practice – having left a regional firm in the heart of England

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