Synectic staff at Xerocon 2022 Sydney

Xerocon 2022: Synectic looks forward

Offering inspiring speakers and exhibits from a growing number of Xero app partners, Xero’s annual event is the largest accounting technology conference in Australasia. Xerocon 2022 (Sydney) certainly didn’t disappoint Synectic’s five attendees. Here are some of their highlights (believe me, it was hard for them to narrow these down!)

Serious about staff

Liz_Kirkland PA
Liz Kirkland – Personal Assistant to the Directors

Tom Boyd (yes, the AFL hero!) presented on a panel of experts: “Build the practice your staff really want”. Tom is a leader in mental health and wellbeing at work. He showed an astute understanding of the needs of businesses in relation to attracting and retaining staff.

There were two key topics presented at Xerocon 2022 as “non-negotiables” that staff will expect their employers to invest in:

  1. Fostering an inclusive team
  2. Prioritising wellbeing

What particularly struck me was that wellbeing should be monitored like every other key performance indicator in a business. Wellbeing should be measured alongside other KPIs, reported on scorecards and dashboards, and not be treated as a ‘fruit bowl in the kitchen’ quick fix.

The panel discussed how to monitor the wellbeing and connection of staff (onsite, remote or hybrid) and the need for tolerance for variation of personality types. These measures should be monitored as with productivity, absenteeism, revenue and the like. Not just at a business level, but also at a personal level.

The other issue addressed is one often avoided as there is no easy answer. How do we promote wellbeing in the workplace considering the lack of time everyone has? You know you can implement time-saving processes, thereby relieving stress and workload. But where does the time come from to research and implement the time-saving things?

Blockchain is here

Vaughn_Whish-Wilson - Accountant Devonport Tasmania
Vaughn Whish-Wilson – Senior Manager, Business Services

Blockchain technology is not a new concept to Xerocon, but it was exciting to see this panel (Xero’s James Bergin, joined by accounting experts, web3 investors and crypto founders) shift the conversation from a mythical concept to real-world applications. It would take more than a one-hour panel discussion to understand the intricacies of how blockchains work, but the rise of cryptocurrencies in the mainstream has reinforced that blockchains are very real and will disrupt businesses.

Not just enabling speculative investing in cryptocurrencies, blockchains present a whole new world for businesses to transact in. There are clear opportunities for those who embrace it.

Blockchain peer-to-peer encrypted transactions do away with the need for intermediaries, enabling instantaneous and secure transacting. The flow-on effect is huge potential for added automation. Smart contracts, for example, are where contract terms/provisions are written into the blockchain and so are executed automatically between multiple parties. For example, when a ship is recorded as arrived on-shore, payment is automatically released for onboard goods.

If you think of it as a secure and reliable universal accounting ledger, the applications for businesses are exciting. Watch this space.

Somewhat related to these concepts, it was also interesting to hear ATO Commissioner Chris Jordan use one of his rare public keynotes to illustrate how the ATO are moving towards full digitisation. With SuperStream and Single Touch Payroll we are already seeing significant progress towards a system where tax ‘just happens’. Blockchain technology might well be a key to realising this.

The balanced life

Jenny Nitschke Accountant Launceston Tasmania
Jenny NitschkeSenior Accountant, Business Services

Kemi Nekvapil’s “Seven Principles around living a balanced life” was a highlight for me. Kemi discussed the link between wellbeing and the need for a balanced life. She explained how wellbeing can be achieved.  The principles she presented at Xerocon 2022 were Body Nourishment, Self Love, Creative Expression, Joy Creation, Elevating Relationships and Communities, Living Your Passions, and Purpose and Contribution. Although some aspects of your life may be fulfilling, a sense of wellbeing can’t be achieved when other areas are lacking.

What particularly struck me was how a ‘balanced life’ is not only different for each person, but it also changes often throughout our lives. We need to regularly re-evaluate and re-balance.

Just a short time later, Adam Goodes discussed very similar topics: the need for balance, the need to find and identify your purpose, and to update that when it changes. Unsurprisingly, Adam also discussed resilience. He linked the concepts to show how it is easier to achieve resilience when you are balanced and know your purpose (i.e., what to focus on). Adam was a real-world example of what Kemi had been speaking about. Adam also discussed failures and how to manage them. His tip was to be specific about what you did ‘fail’ at, rather than categorising an entire situation as a ‘failure’. Did you really fail if it was out of your control? Which part could you actually do differently? Be specific.

Getting real-time

Kurtis_Alexander - Accountant Devonport Tasmania
Kurtis AlexanderSenior Manager, Business Services

‘Generation Alpha’ follows the ‘Gen Z’ age bracket. It is most easily defined as children currently under 12 years of age. They will be the most digitalised generation in history – growing-up knowing only a world of technology and constant connectedness. Their expectations are therefore real time – fed by instant answers and entertainment at their fingertips. Gen Alphas won’t wait for information or advice. Rather, they expect it instantly and will often compromise reliability for accessibility. Xero recognises this demand and is positioning to respond through automation and AI. Hearing from Xero’s Chief Customer Officer Rachel Powell on this topic at Xerocon 2022 was very thought provoking, and certainly had me in agreeance as the father of three Gen Alpha children!

This also tied-in well with the future direction of the ATO, as noted in ATO Commissioner Chris Jordan’s keynote address. Chris spoke about the ATO’s goal to be completely digital by 2030 and their transition to Phase 3 reporting. That is, real-time reporting to the ATO, aligning the physical transaction, reporting, and required ATO payment in a single, concurrent event. For example, a sale invoice is issued in Xero to a customer. The ATO receive a record of the transaction via their real-time link. The customer pays their invoice; again, the ATO are aware of this via their link with the accounting software. The ATO then raise the GST liability for the client to pay. As highlighted by Chris, this will remove the need for monotonous and zero-value forms such as BAS returns. A future without BAS returns – now that’s exciting!!

Authentically you

Tiffany Proctor Chartered Accountant Business Adviser Devonport Tasmania
Tiffany Proctor – Client Manager, Business Services

In her outstanding Xerocon 2022 presentation ‘For the love of fangirls’, Yve Blake highlighted societal norms that are impressed on us. There are some things that are considered ok to be passionate and excited about … and there are some things that are not.

Case in point, on my flight home I chatted to the traveller beside me. When he mentioned he works for AFL, I guiltily admitted that I don’t follow sports. I say “guiltily” because I am aware that my lack of passion for sports doesn’t adhere to social norms. Surprised, he asked me, “So, what do you do in your spare time?”. Cue awkward pause… as I internally debated what he might think if I told him I enjoy embroidery!

So, the takeaway I got from Yve is to challenge the way you think and your reactions to passions. We aren’t all the same, we have different backgrounds, experiences and interests. Let’s celebrate and encourage these things in ourselves and others.

Along similar lines, another panel discussed having “one life”. Your work and personal lives are one thing, so be authentically yourself. And Kemi Nekvapil unpacked seven principles of wellbeing. If I was to pick one to focus on it would be Creative Expression. Many of us default to spending time on ‘minimal effort’ activities, like watching tv. Whilst enjoyable, these rarely provide the joy and energy-renewal gained from ‘creating’. I believe that everyone can be creative – gardening, sewing, music, writing, painting, cooking … embroidery 🙂 So, my challenge is to embrace my creativity, be authentic, and challenge those social norms!

Read our reflections from Xerocon 2018

The powerful ripple effect of your business’ purpose

Get in touch

If you would like to discuss the future of your business, get in touch with one of our advisers.