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How Perceptions Of Accountants Are Changing

There’s no doubt about it, things are changing in the accounting world.

Xerocon London 2015 served as a wake-up call for me. I had no idea the movement was so alive and thriving. Each day was buzzing with a mixture of accountants, add-on partners and Xero employees, all extending friendly hellos or offering demos of their products. The genuine passion for small businesses and accounting innovation was evident everywhere you went.

This was the first time I got to attend and it’s completely changed my perspective of the accounting world.

A new brand for accountants

One of the first things that struck me at Xerocon was the quality of the speakers, with the likes of Vice-Chairman of West Ham United FC Karren Brady, Editor of Wired Magazine David Rowan and Xero CEO Rod Drury, among others.


There were lots of insights, but the standout one for me was Rita Clifton. Given my role as a marketer, I can’t help but be slightly biased toward Rita – the branding guru.

Rita’s talk focused on the importance of clarity and consistency in branding. No question there. Proper branding is invaluable for building a successful business.

One of the defining moments of her talk was when she declared “People die and buildings crumble, but a brand will live on long after you’re gone”. Judging by the number of tweets this quote merited, it seemed to resonate with a lot of people in the room.

People die and buildings crumble, but a brand will live on long after you’re gone

So what does this mean for accountants? Accountant branding, i.e. how accountants are branded as a group, similarly to the way that any product is.

By doing an image search on Google for ‘Accounting’ – nearly every image depicted a grey-ish tone, inundated with calculators, papers and pencils. Occasionally a group of suited professionals could be seen in the background, or a hand was shown clutching a pen and hovering over a heap of papers.


It would be irresponsible to base an entire knowledge of any group on one Google image search, but it’s a good indication of how the world views accounting. This interpretation seems to be the essence of what Xero is striving to change. And there is a huge opportunity for accountants to disrupt the status quo.

Disclaimer: when searched on Google images, ‘Marketing’ looks pretty lame too..

What can we make of these assumptions?

While there are still many traditionalists in the accounting realm, it’s clear that things are changing fast. Four major shifts are happening:

1) Accountants across the world are embracing the cloud, and no longer focusing only on compliance and tax advice, but also technology and becoming trusted advisors.

2) Small businesses are searching for accountants that can help them with more than just their finances.

3) Xero (and their competitors) are focused on building a platform that all parties can use to easily organise and understand their finances.

4) And the add-ons community continues to pioneer new technologies to optimise small business accounting.

Based upon this list, I think we’re collectively doing a smashing job of altering the misconception. It’s great to see that accountants are becoming more than the tax time service they were often perceived as in the past.

Thanks for sharing this exciting experience with me and the rest of the Float team. It was truly unforgettable. I hope to see you all at the next one!


Further reading:

The Future of Accounting, Part 1

Colin Hewitt

CEO and Founder of Float, cash flow forecasting made easy.