Client work screens open into a dashboard view that is customizable and can include bank account information, cashflow, overviews of specific accounts and other information. The navigation menu offers access to accounts, reports, the Advisor function, contacts and system settings. Any number of firm and small business users can be concurrently in the program at the same time, and new users can be added at any time with no additional cost.
Core Write-Up Features: 4.25 Stars
The core of the Xero Accountant Edition includes the large business version of the Xero Accounting program and practice management system, from which they can directly access the books of their clients. The program includes full GL, AR, AP, financials reporting, invoicing and online document sharing. It supports U.S. GAAP as well as IFRS standards, as well as state sales tax calculations and GST/HST.
Since the program allows accounting firm staff to directly access live client data, there is no need for data transfer to or from the professional program. This can nearly eliminate data entry for the firm, which also reduces the potential for data entry errors. Of course, clients make mistakes in posting transactions, for which the Xero system provides full access to client ledgers and journals, with tools for quickly making adjusting entries or other corrections.
The program can be set up to automatically alert firm users to client or practice events that may require attention, such as client customer AR balances and vendor issues. It also includes a full-time audit trail that is always one and active, and cannot be disabled, purged, or modified by any user.
For bank account reconciliation functions, the program includes integration with Yodlee bank feeds, which lets users automatically import, classify and reconcile transactions from the company’s live bank accounts. When Brian tested this functionality over two months, he imported and classified two months of transactions from business bank and credit card accounts and noted that he was “very impressed with the feature” and its accuracy. It can import from more than 5,000 financial institutions worldwide. Client businesses can have multiple banks.
Xero does not directly provide payroll calculation functions, although users can manage payroll transactions via a check or a journal entry, and it offers integration with ADP for payroll services. Automated conversion of foreign currency transactions is included in the large business version (which is the same version that firms use internally and to manage clients).
Reporting & Financial Statements: 4.75 Stars
Xero includes more than 40 customizable template reports for basic and advanced financials, including profit and loss, balances sheets, management reporting, sales tax returns, depreciation schedules and foreign currency gains and losses. The system also offers tracking categories to report by department, region and staff. The program integrates with ADP for payroll and with Track1099 for 1099 compliance, including printable and online filing.
Built-in invoicing options allow firms to design their own templates, including logos with e-payment instructions and links to email, websites and social media websites. Different layout templates can be created for each client or groups of clients, or for specific transaction types. The online invoicing options offer easy payment options directly from the email a client receives, and notifies the firm when the invoice has been opened by the client.
Firms can also sign up their clients for Xero and have the billing completely managed by the firm, with the ability to add a markup as desired.
Import/Export/Integration: 5 Stars
The Xero accountant version offers direct access and integration with each of the data files of their clients who are also using Xero, allowing firms to always be working with live data and eliminating the need to transfer or worry about converting between software versions. The program can also import FreshBooks invoices and payments, and has more than 115 add-on options for integration with CRM, workflow, payroll, inventory management, point-of-sale and other programs. Xero’s reporting and snapshots can be saved to Excel, Google Docs or PDF, allowing import of the data into most other financial, trial balance and tax systems.