Wednesday, 12 July 2017 11:01

Xero’s Drury bullish on growth, flags greater focus on financial services

By
Rod Drury, Xero CEO and founder Rod Drury, Xero CEO and founder

New Zealand-based cloud accounting company Xero is increasing its focus on financial services and collaboration on innovation and data share standards as part of its latest global growth strategy.

According to Xero chief executive and founder Rod Drury, the future of finance is steeped in collaboration rather than competition between banking institutions and technology companies.

As part of the strategy, Drury says the company is adding resources to its global team and building relationships with hundreds of financial institutions around the world including in the key global financial hubs of New York, London, Singapore, Sydney and Melbourne.

“This is vital to the success of small businesses, and also for the effective future operation of the financial services sector. We are working with financial and fintech organisations around the world to securely open up data flows which can help de-risk lending and enable small businesses to access much-needed capital so that they can prosper.

“Working with more than 140 financial and fintech organisations around the world to establish a global financial web, Xero has worked on the strategy of placing our mutual small business banking customers at the centre of everything we do - we want to champion the cause of small business. It’s why we now work with top institutions right around the world, from HSBC in the UK and Asia to the top four in Australia and Wells Fargo in the US.”

Drury was speaking at Wednesday’s annual shareholders' meeting in Sydney when he claimed that the dual-listed Xero (NZX: XRO, ASX: XRO) was now “one of Australasia's top listed technology companies”.

According to Drury, Xero was now emerging as one of the largest and fastest growing listed technology companies in Australasia, “with analysis showing the cloud accounting platform is one of the best performing by revenue with a fast growth rate on the Australian and New Zealand stock exchanges”.

“It has been a milestone year for Xero. We have executed on all fronts to achieve strong results for the financial year. We’re now well past the startup phase and are pleased to become one of the larger technology companies by revenue listed on the ASX and NZX,” Drury said.

“We’re into a new phase of innovation as machine learning and artificial intelligence allow us to redefine small businesses computing on our global platform. Our strong revenues allow us to continue to invest to lead this revolution while we manage our cash towards breakeven.”

Drury cited Xero’s recently posted full-year financial results showing the company achieved operating cash flow break-even in the second half of the financial year ending March 31, doubled subscriber numbers in less than two years to pass more than one million subscribers, and moved the platform to the public cloud.

He said the company had passed quarter-of-a-million subscribers in New Zealand, and expected to pass half-a-million subscribers in Australia shortly.

“Balanced, strategic investment has resulted in the continuation of world class customer retention levels and operating metrics that are expanding with scale as Xero prepares to pass into positive EBITDA,” Drury claimed.

“Our focus on building a single, global platform has enabled Xero to onboard more than half-a-million customers in the last two years, 300,000 of which were in the last year alone. Xero’s revenues continue to grow, and network effects are starting to work on the global platform. Now we’ve built a powerful and much-loved accounting engine, we have so many opportunities for growth, including how we can use our single code base to service a larger array of businesses around the globe and build more powerful tools.”

Xero chief partner officer Anna Curzon outlined what she said was the importance of small businesses in the global economy.

And Curzon revealed how the company intended to help transform advisors into “growth consultants to further stimulate global prosperity”.

“Accounting technology should lead the next era of innovation – the industry has so much to gain from artificial intelligence and machine learning advances which both reduce the cost of compliance and help arm accountants with the tools and skills required to support the world’s small businesses,” Curzon said.

“Machine learning and artificial intelligence are helping unlock the potential of the Xero community’s vast connections and unique dataset to drive the establishment of personalised automation systems for small businesses. It’s never been a more exciting time to be in accounting. As small businesses’ contribution to the global economy grows, so does the accountant’s role, as advisers in supporting small businesses who run the world.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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