Xero Cashbook now available via Sharesight

We’re thrilled to announce that Xero Cashbook is now available as a bundled add-on with your Sharesight subscription.

Take a free (seriously no strings attached) 30 day trial by clicking the Xero button in the Plans & Billing page inside your Sharesight Investor or Expert plan. If you like what you see, you can continue using Cashbook for $15 per month.

This is an industry first. Individuals have never been able to access Xero directly without being invited by a professional intermediary. Until now. We’re the first Add-On Partner with the ability to offer Xero. We’re proud they chose us to partner with on the back of Sharesight being named Add-On Partner of the Year last month.

Xero Cashbook + Sharesight

What is Xero Cashbook?

Cashbook is a cut-down version of Xero Partner Edition (the product sold to accountants), but with the same core features. With Cashbook you can track all of your bank accounts, credit cards, term deposits, even your broker-linked cash accounts and margin loans. It’s probably the best cash-tracking product in the world. You can run reports, share access with your accountant or financial adviser, and connect to the Add-Ons in their app store.

Why do I need it?

Cashbook is the ultimate personal finance tool (in fact, it’s so good, small businesses use it too). Once you’ve added your bank accounts, Xero will track all of your incoming cash and outgoing expenses. This makes bank reconciliation a one-click process. Once you’ve built up some history, Xero will even begin to suggest auto-reconciliations. All of this can be done on their mobile app too (you’ve probably seen their ads at the bus stop).

And Sharesight will send your trades and dividends through to Xero in real-time, including number of units traded, execution price, brokerage fees, and details such as franking credits and tax withheld. This means that your investment portfolios are now part of your overall budget and total wealth picture, automatically.

Once you have Xero and Sharesight connected you can also pull your cash data back into Sharesight. This is a great way to track cash investments inside your Sharesight portfolios.

Now your household P&L, balance sheet, and cash flow can be run on the fly, across any date range. Seeing salary alongside dividends received and interest earned is awesome. So is tracking brokerage fees, and capital gains and losses.

When you share access with your accountant or financial adviser all of the admin work is done. We have a number of clients doing just this for their Self Managed Super Funds too.

Why are we selling it?

Because it’s awesome and we’re never going to build an accounting application. And because we’re building an app store of our own for investors. To date we’ve added brokers, a online financial adviser, and an accounting application. More to be announced soon…

We’ll continue focusing on investing while Xero focuses on accounting. You’ve heard us bang on before about the power of connected applications. You can do so much more across a few tabs in your browser than with one thinly-spread software solution. Xero helped define this concept, which runs counter to vertically integrated, walled-garden financial service providers.

Now you have a free opportunity to see what we’re talking about.

Xero Award Winners Roundtable

Recently, we were invited to participate in a Xero Award Winners roundtable by Add-On Success. Hear from us and the other Xero Add-On winners: Receipt Bank, Float, Crowe Horwath, CFM Bookkeeping, Twomeys, 5Ways Group, and Wealth Enhancers in the video below. The discussion was a refreshing, free-flowing chat, and a rare opportunity to hear not only from Add-On partners, but also from professional firms using Xero.

Sharesight Xero Award Winner 2014

We’ll let you come up with your own takeaways, but for us the overriding theme was “just do it.” In the case of the Add-Ons, your product will never be 100% finished. Nor will ever be perfect. Instead of waiting for the perfect opportunity or for your product to catch up to the market, just get it out there and iterate based on client feedback.

Surprisingly, the accounting and bookkeeping firms had similar advice for businesses thinking about moving into the cloud. They indicated that the automation gained from using Xero and the Add-Ons far outweighed the cost of remaining offline – even throughout a transition period. This is something we explain to prospective Sharesight Pro clients all the time. Changing to a new process can be difficult, but try to measure the automation gained from an application like Sharesight versus the old, offline method in terms of billable hours wasted.

Clients, have your say

I’m Lulu Ye, Sharesight’s new Client Experience Specialist.

Two months ago, I was introduced to this role by a happy Sharesight customer. A month ago, I joined the company, looking to add new thoughts and more customer focus. The past month was filled with learning – about the product and about our customers, with the highlight certainly being attending my first Xerocon, and receiving the Xero Add-on Partner of The Year award with the team.

In my previous role within finance and customer relations, I heard grumbles every day both within and outside of the organisation, especially when well-intended customer-oriented changes took forever to surface due to bureaucracy. In contrast, when I first visited Sharesight, I saw a bunch of creative and energetic minds, who can’t help but love new technology, and who are eager to bring disruptive changes to the market.

This is what brings a company forward – Change. Embarking on new business partnerships and introducing handy new features that push our business forward (compared to ticking off a daily task list). For the same reason, we feel compelled to bring exciting changes into the way we interact with YOU, our customers. In the coming months, I’ll be assisting you with any of your queries, gathering more insights, and re-organising our help website and community forum. And for our Professional clients, I look forward to chatting with you on our soon-to-be announced regular training webinars!

Have a fantastic idea? Want to share your experience? Click here to have your say. All ideas are welcome.

New Feature: Charting Improvements

We have some exciting Sharesight enhancements in the works regarding portfolio analytics (includes benchmarking!). Now, in order to lay some of the groundwork we’ve made some big improvements to the charting feature on the Portfolio Overview page, which are now available.

First, your holdings are now split out by the market they belong to. Each colour corresponds to the ASX, NZX, NYSE, LSE, and so forth. If you move your mouse across the chat, you’ll see crosshairs, which display a date, a total portfolio value, and the commensurate values for  each market.

Just below the chart, you’ll also notice a colour key. If you click on a market, it will be hidden from your chart dynamically. This is a handy way to isolate holdings from a particular market.

We’ve also introduced a line charting option. Again, this is in preparation for a few more features down the track (line charts being more flexible than area charts for plotting disparate investment types).



And don’t forget about the growth chart either. This one is our favourite as it shows the contribution (or detraction) of capital gains/losses, dividends, and currency. Expect lots more in the way of portfolio decomposition in the future!

Thoughts on (sports media) platforms

Entering the financial services world after university some years ago, I remember being struck by how many middle-layers existed between an actual pool of invested money and mum and dad investors. This was an industry – a world – unto itself. Outside of the trade press, no one talked about distribution channels, share classes, or platforms. Probably because it’s super boring. Someone should really teach a MOOC titled “How Financial Services Should Work, How it Actually Works, and What You, the Recent Graduate, Will be Doing with Your Existence.”

Armed with this knowledge, I began looking at other industries and wondering how much of what I experience as a consumer was in fact dictated by invisible platforms. As a male in my early 20′s, sports took up an unhealthy chunk of my free time. Not playing sports, mind you, but obsessing over my local Chicago teams. If you’re a supporter of any American sports team or have spent any time in the US, you can’t follow sports and not be dependent on ESPN, the mega sports media platform.

Until the late 1990′s ESPN was a disrupter. They broadcasted irreverent events (to Yanks) like Aussie Rules Football, ping pong, and the America’s Cup. In fact it was their pioneering move to put cameras on the decks of the America’s Cup sailboats that first got them noticed. Their flagship show, SportsCenter, was appointment viewing for sports-nuts and snarky hipsters alike. Combining highlight clips with witty banter proved to be perfect mindless viewing.

They were the sports anti-media. Their content was 180 degrees different than your dad’s favourite tweed-clad, cigar-smoking sports writer. They were afforded this leeway because they were novel, but really because they couldn’t afford to buy the rights to any major sports league. (In the US, sports TV rights are massive, billion-dollar, exclusive arrangements with anti-trust exemption).

ESPN changed when the Walt Disney Co. came knocking. The “Mouse” acquired the ABC network in 1995, along with ESPN. Suddenly, they were part of a public, global media conglomerate with the resources to buy rights to sporting events. And buy they did. ESPN now broadcasts Major League Baseball, the National Football League (Monday Night Football), the National Basketball Association, and the majority of college football games (arguably the most popular sport in the States). They now run at least four TV channels, produce movies, have a hug web presence, publish a self-titled magazine, operate their own restaurants, and have a nation-wide radio network. Things officially reached defcom-ridiculous when they launched their own mobile phone.

Any media company that gets this big will invite criticism. ESPN didn’t help matters by filling programming time with cable-news style talking heads, and by making obvious editorial concessions based on what product they were selling. They essentially eliminated the line between news reporting and entertainment production. The worst example of this? Backing out of a PBS Frontline documentary on the head-injury epidemic facing gridiron players because the National Football League didn’t want the negative press. Furthermore, ESPN was painfully slow to recognise the rise the sports blogs, and other decentralised media serving at once to criticise ESPN and to break news themselves.

This dominance can’t continue, however, because at the end of the day it’s the professional sports leagues that own the content, not ESPN. This is akin to a tech company not owning their code and outsourcing it to a development shop.

Things are fracturing. With the advent of iOS, Android, AppleTV, and Chromecast, leagues themselves now offer apps that give you live and on-demand access to their live events. All of the major pro leagues now have their own TV networks offered in pay-TV packages and online. This means that for the first time ever, the leagues have a direct conduit to their consumers. I’d love to be a fly on the wall in a few year’s time when ESPN execs are trying to convince a pro league to sell them their content. I can imagine all kinds of “intangible value,” “brand reinforcement,” and “synergising backward overflow” mumbo-jumbo. This must be like when an ad agency tries to convince a client that they know search engine marketing better than Google.

As a fintech company, this is already happening in our world. In fact, sports-media is one of the only examples where financial services enjoy more rapid disruption.

ETFs were one, early effort in this process. These days, it’s got to be difficult to be a bank-aligned financial adviser when clients ask why they’ve been sold particular bank-branded investments. For the banks, offering SMSFs will be even more challenging. Why would I sign-up for a bank-sponsored SMSF and put up with them trying to fill it with their products? At Sharesight, we’re keeping a keen eye on the ASX mFund effort too. This direct-to-consumer approach is a perfect “off-platform” solution. We plan to begin tracking mFund trades and distributions for our clients.

This isn’t to say there’s no place in our lives (or portfolios) for platforms. They just need to adapt and prove they can add value. It will be interesting to see if these dynamics force ESPN to change, or if they go the way of other media conglomerates. It would be hard to explain to shareholders why changing your business model is necessary when you’ve just pulled in $11 billion in revenue (2/3 of that from pay-TV fees – another industry being disrupted!). Maybe they’ll double-down on offering thoughtful positions on sports, witty segments, and introducing the American heartland to the AFL.