Case Study: Xero & DfK Partnership

DFK is looking to the future with Xero 

DFK ANZ is a leading accounting association made up of thirteen independent firms across Australia and New Zealand, each part of the DFK International alliance. In 2021, DFK International signed a three-year global partnership with Xero, propelling the firm into a new and very exciting age of accounting.

Rachael Powell, Chief Customer Officer, Xero

Radlee Moller, Managing Partner at CIB - a firm within DFK ANZ - prides the firm on its longstanding values and people-centered approach. For Radlee, partnering with Xero was an obvious choice, due to its offering of cloud-based technology that’s flexible and easy to use.

“A significant number of clients and firms use Xero across DFK and we want our young people to use it, know it and feel excited about it. They want to use the best tools and technology and we want to be able to provide that for them. So really, Xero was a no-brainer.”

Part of the global partnership is having the support of a committed team at Xero who work closely with the firm to gain a deep understanding of their needs and strategic goals.

For many accounting firms, the number one challenge right now is attracting and retaining talent. Radlee views this as an opportunity to make a positive change across DFK ANZ. He recognises it’s a challenge that’s here to stay, and that investing in people today will mean the firm is better positioned in the future.

DFK ANZ is leveraging their Xero partnership to respond to this challenge and offer a personal development plan. This is an education-based programme designed to enhance the capabilities and career pathways of their people.

Committed to investing in the next generation of accountants, the first phase is a two year graduate and cadet programme for both undergraduates and postgraduates.

“For the first time, as a cohort across DFK ANZ, we’re working together to create this programme. Traditional firms start with the tax and audit work, but we know that professional development, emotional intelligence and relationship building are a challenge in the pathway to leadership. So we’re introducing these early on.”

When it comes to the future of accounting, Radlee can see that younger generations are purpose-driven – they want to see a pathway and have opportunities to grow. Building Xero education and training into the personal development plan offers them a pathway with technology, giving them valuable skills for the future.

“We’re connecting our young people to Xero right from the beginning. Having the Xero team train our people is exciting and it really connects them to the brand and the software. I think it’s going to be a game changer across DFK firms.”

The next phase of the plan will focus on the pathway to leadership, whether that’s becoming a manager, senior manager, or partner.

For Radlee, partnering closely with Xero will set his team up for success in the future. The programme they’ve developed with Xero’s support helps DFK ANZ firms attract and retain young talent by building their skills and confidence, and in doing so helps the firm prepare for the future of accounting.

“Creating this plan with Xero has really changed the strategic thinking around the development of our people. The team is really excited about it and we can’t wait to see the results of the first year of the programme.”

Create an environment for people to feel empowered

In an environment of uncertainty and change, the best thing you can do is empower your people. Successfully navigating change often requires creativity. Creativity comes from people feeling safe and empowered to think about different ways of doing things.

This environment is created by having a strong culture where people can play to their strengths.

Having a clear purpose that your people believe in, and communicating this regularly keeps people connected to why they do what they do.

  • How often do you share client satisfaction and NPS results in meetings? Instead of focusing on operations and financial outcomes, make sure you’re connecting your firm’s work back to the purpose.
  • Your people need to see how their work is contributing to something bigger than just profitability and productivity.
  • On an individual level, focusing on people’s strengths can lead to higher engagement. Consider where a team member could leverage their strengths better. If you can’t make it happen now, start the planning process and offer them a path to explore other areas. When people are empowered to play to their strengths, that’s when they tend to make the best contribution to the organisation and therefore, do their best work.