XU: What does a typical day look like as the Head of Bookkeeping at Xero?
MP: I spend some time helping the product team with review on product; especially at the moment inAustralia, where we’ve got a fantastic tax product. I’ve been involved with helping the product team with feedback from a practitioner’s point of view, as well as collating feedback from our partners. A day can also involve dealing with industry bodies (including ICB global), maintaining relationships with them and discussing the bookkeeping profession. I also work quite closely with the heads of accounting, who represent the bookkeeping community in different regions. My role as Head of bookkeeping is to be the champion and voice of bookkeepers in Xero. But, also, to be the voice of Xero back out to the profession. It’s a really interesting and varied role, and it encompasses a lot of different things.
XU: How would you describe the difference between the roles of an accountant and a bookkeeper for a small business?
MP: Traditionally, there’s always been a very set role for bookkeepers and accountants, but due to the change in technology, automation, and the cloud platform, that line has become more greyed. It’s allowed accountants and bookkeepers to work even more closely together. The bookkeeper is responsible for processing all of the transactions in relation to the general ledger. Everything that happens within the life of a small business, the bookkeeper is responsible for recording, managing and making sure that information is accurate. They’re collating information so that there’s a nice flow for the accountant to deal with compliance, tax, anything else that has to be done, and then step in to really give the higher level tax and business advice to the small business owner.
XU: Could you tell us a bit about your journey to becoming the Head of Bookkeeping?
MP: I started out as a tax accountant back in the very early 90s, and I very quickly realised that I didn’t find tax particularly exciting. I discovered that the bit I really loved was the conversation around where their business was going and what the future was going to look like in 12 months time. When I realised having conversations in an advisory capacity was what really interested me, it led to me birthing my own bookkeeping practice. Along that journey, I also had a couple of other small businesses including a brokerage, an IT business and the (then) number one motorcycle dealership in Australia. In 2012, my husband and I decided to sell the motorcycle business. We were on holiday in New Zealand when he suggested that I go back to doing what I love (advising small businesses) and start another bookkeeping practice. I discovered Xero through the accountant that was taking me through exiting the dealership, which started my journey from a 0 – 100 (or Gold) Xero bookkeeping practice in a year, which I did with myself and a part-time staff member. It wasn’t long after I’d achieved that Gold status that this role with Xero came up. It’s been a lifetime of passion of the bookkeeping function and the importance it plays in the life of small business