Blenheim firm a world leader

A Blenheim accounting firm that switched over to cloud-based computing software Xero last year, was named Partner of the Year at the annual Xero conference on Friday.

Winstanley Kerridge changed over to Xero in April, and has since switched more of its clients over to the system than any other firm that uses the software.

The achievement won the firm the award at the annual New Zealand Xero conference, held at the Viaduct Events Centre in Auckland.

Neil Sinclair, one of six directors of Winstanley Kerridge, said the award came as a complete surprise.

"Our team is fizzing, it was very exciting and humbling on the night to hear the feedback from the other firms," he said.

"I've never experienced anything like it in my career of 20 years."

The award showed they were world leaders in accounting practices, he said.

"It's pretty cool to think a little Blenheim firm is at the forefront of modern accounting."

"Xero is considered to be a world leader in terms of the way it has changed the way we do accounting, which effectively makes us global leaders too."

Xero is a cloud-based accounting software system done entirely online, and linked to customers' bank accounts so all transactions are automatically loaded on the system.

Rod Drury, the founder of Xero, which claims to make bookkeeping fun, said many American partners who attended the conference, had said New Zealand firms were three to five years ahead of those in the United States.

"New Zealand firms are leading globally in practices that have transformed accounting, with less focus around compliance and more about driving businesses forward."

Xero, which was founded in 2007, had about 4000 partners globally, half of them in New Zealand, he said.

Mr Sinclair said last year had been a "transitional period" for the firm as it switched systems. This year it intended to make full use of other services linked to Xero, to help its clients' businesses grow in profitability.

"It has changed our role from the traditional accountants telling our clients how much tax they owe, to more of a business advisory role, offering quality business advice."

Mr Sinclair said about half of the company's clients had switched their accounting software to Xero, although the cloud-based system would not be for everyone.

The Marlborough Express