So who are you anyway, and what do you do?

Dan McGrath, Director and Co-founder of Xilch – a bookkeeping company utilising both Xero and Invitbox as part of its service delivery methodology to small and medium sized businesses around Australia, and Director of WLM Financial Services – an accounting and financial planning business based in Sydney CBD.

What was your last job before getting into this?

Worked for a mid-tier accounting firm for 10 years before setting up my own business services and taxation business which I merged with WLM Financial Services in July 2012.

And why did you decide to do what you do now?

Xilch was launched in November 2013 and came about because I have been very pro-Xero ever since I started my own business and saw the efficiency gains it provided in terms of processing business data, then invitbox came along and we at WLM Financial Services saw an even greater efficiency gain. The problem we had was there weren’t many bookkeeper’s skilled up in both software packages so we decided to start up our own bookkeeping service to provide the necessary skills to implement these systems. The great advantage of combining these two software packages is the accounting can be done anywhere because all the data, including the invoices are on the cloud. Xilch is a joint venture between WLM Financial Services and Flat Planet (an Australian Company that specialises in providing outsourced labour from the Philippines) and the use of cloud software has allowed us to utilise Flat Planet’s staff to process the data and prepare the compliance work, while the quality assurance and review work is carried out by WLM’s staff here in Australia. We believe the combination of cloud software and our low cost structure allows us to provide a high quality, real time, bookkeeping service that is affordable for any sized business not just those at the higher end of town that can afford the infrastructure and staff to maintain top quality accounting systems.

What song of the 60s, 70s, 80s or 90s still gets your feet tapping today?

John Farnham – You’re the Voice. It was the final song at my wedding a few years back and everyone went straight to dance floor to belt out a few verses.

What is the biggest challenge facing accountants/bookkeepers/your industry this year?

Compliance work is becoming very much a commodity, therefore to retain and win clients, accountants and bookkeepers need to show they’re adding value to the business over and above getting a BAS and tax return prepared. That’s why we believe its so important for our staff at both WLM and Xilch to skill up on the cloud and utilise this technology to increase our client’s efficiency in business and to have real time financial data at their finger tips on which they can make business decisions on.   

Is there still room and time for a new cloud-accounting software company to emerge and compete successfully?  If so, what niche does it need to fill?  What should they offer that others don’t?  What should they do differently?

As long as the data security issue is managed appropriately then cloud is here to stay. I think we’re just at the beginning of understanding the capabilities the cloud offers and therefore plenty of opportunities for new cloud-accounting software to emerge and compete succesfully, however Xero were very smart in the way they entered the Australian market by getting in early and targeting accountants and bookkeepers, not the business owner themselves. I’ve noticed recently that Intuit are starting to make a play into the Australian market using the same strategy, even though they appear to have a good product, I think they’ll struggle to gain large market share here given the ground work already done by Xero. Xero have also been very smart to make sure they offer the whole suite of services by providing practice management and workpapers software.  This suite of services made it a no brainer for Xilch to use Xero as our accounting package of choice, because we believe the accounting software is the best cloud offering on the market and as a Xero partner we get Workflowmax for free making it very easy to manage the workflow for our staff whether they be located here or in the Philippines.

If you could retire now, what would you do? Or not do?

Play lots of golf and travel.

If you could give your younger self some advice, what would it be?

Hard work and determination will always win over talent alone. Don’t worry that the person next to you seems smarter, if you work harder than them you will be more successful than they will ever be.

If you could buy anyone a drink in a bar and chat to them about anything, who would it be, what drink, and what would you talk about?

Butch Harmon – to try and work out why I’m so bad at golf.

If you could walk up to anyone, kick them in the shins and shout something at them, who would it be, and what would you shout?  Go on….get it off your chest!

The current Perth couple of girls on My Kitchen Rules, they do my head in thinking they’re so awesome at cooking and know everything about fine dining yet when it’s their turn to cook serve up crap.

If you could walk up to anyone and hug them, who would it be, and why?

Mitchell Johnson – for winning Australia back the ashes

What’s your favourite meat and gravy meal?

Pork Belly for sure

What is your greatest achievement?

Starting up my own business. Leaving the protection of a large accounting firm meant I very quickly had to learn to run my own business which included winning clients, maintaining clients, implementing systems and procedures, keeping an eye on cash-flow, take on staff, take on the risk associated with providing tax advice and remaining compliant. All that has given me a much greater appreciation of the issues small business people face and be able to empathise with the difficulties they encounter on a day to day basis.

What do you want to achieve that you haven’t as yet?

A sub 20 handicap and grow a business that becomes a business in the true sense of the word, whereby I could go on holiday for 6 months and know everything would run smoothly while I’m gone.

What’s next for you?

Take WLM and Xilch onwards and upwards!

Dan is Director of WLM Financial Services and Xilch


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