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XERO LAUNCHES NEW PARTNER PROGRAMME, ADVISOR DIRECTORY WITH CHATBOT CONNECTING THOUSANDS OF ADVISORS TO SMALL BUSINESSES

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XERO LAUNCHES NEW PARTNER PROGRAMME, ADVISOR DIRECTORY WITH CHATBOT CONNECTING THOUSANDS OF ADVISORS TO SMALL BUSINESSES

In first 72 hours 13,500 advisors opt into newly launched open platform, Xero HQ

 Xero today marked a milestone launching its expanded Partner Programme and Advisor Directory powered by an innovative Facebook Messenger chatbot service, connecting Xero’s global network of more than 100, 000 business advisors with even more small businesses to help them grow.

 More than 13,500 accountants and bookkeepers in 72 hours have already opted into Xero HQ’s beta release, the platform launched to take advantage of these tools to help expand their practices.

 “The Xero Partner Programme reflects our deep commitment to helping small businesses grow and be more productive by connecting every small business to an advisor,” said Doug LaBahn, Global VP Partner Marketing at Xero.  “It’s designed entirely around giving our partners the right tools to help them be successful, by providing tools and services which will differentiate their practices and offer more value and excellent service to their new and existing clients.”

 The new Advisor Directory will help connect Xero-certified partners with small businesses searching for an advisor. Whether based on industry expertise or location, the Advisor Directory will enable a small business to find the right advisor, and help the advisor to be matched with the right client for their business expertise and the industries they serve.

 “Xero Signals research tells us that small businesses who use an accountant grow their net profit 23% faster than those who do not,” said LaBahn. “Today, Xero is connecting over 89% of small businesses to advisors, and 29% to apps in our

App Marketplace ecosystem. We know that every connection on our platform increases the success of small businesses and helps our Xero partners grow their practice.”

Connecting millions with Chatbot for Advisor Directory 

Xero’s Advisor Directory is already a substantial source of client leads for partners, with more than 20,000 people searching the directory every month to find a financial advisor to suit their needs. Revamped to take advantage of the AWS platform and AI, the new chatbot feature will have the potential to connect millions of small businesses to advisors using social media.

 “Connecting the millions of small businesses on Facebook Messenger with advisors, Xero’s Chatbot, will open up a huge opportunity for the industry from within Advisor Directory,” LaBahn said. “With our chatbot, we can connect these businesses with the right advisor using Facebook messenger. For our partners, it’s a seamless way to be found and will help millions of small businesses be more productive, get the advice they need to grow and create jobs.”

 The Advisor Directory is also designed with new geo-sensing features to showcase partners that operate within the area the small business is situated, while other features like the sophisticated search function, detailed listings, and richer profile pages equip partners with the tools to market their businesses and grow their client base.

 “Xero’s new Advisor Directory is another fantastic example of their continuous pipeline of innovation driven by a real desire to interact with the accounting community,” said Edward Sanford, of Chaddesley Sanford in the UK.  “From our own perspective, the added features and functionality will really help us set out our strengths and skills to reach new clients.”

 Xero HQ for future accountants

Xero HQ is the platform that will help practices grow, equipping partners with the tools and apps needed to connect to and manage clients better, by unlocking the insights they need to provide more advice. The Xero HQ opt-in beta release, delivers a set of new features designed to do this:

  • Developers can integrate with the Xero ecosystem for small business apps and  develop integrations
  • for Xero HQ via api’s coming in 2017
  • Prioritise work using the activity feed to see which clients need action and when
  • Drill into clients with Explorer based on industry, apps or banking relationships
  • Streamline reporting with new Report Templates

Xero HQ will continue to evolve as we bring features across from My Xero Partner Edition. It is expected to include more integration with Xero, easier access to information and resources to help practices and a makeover of staff and permission management.

 Celebrating our Partners

Xero’s new Partner Programme is designed to simply and easily connect small businesses with accountants and bookkeepers whose advice and services can help make a difference to a business’s growth and success.

 Pioneered in Australia and developed in conjunction with partners in each region Xero operates, Xero advisors earn a higher status to unlock new benefits. Partners receive points for growing with Xero by adding new clients, being invited in to collaborate with clients as a financial advisor, and expanding into the Xero product suite so partners can grow at a faster pace, and unlock more benefits. There will also be new ways to earn points through Xero Cashbook, Xero Payroll, Xero Premium edition and Xero Ledger.

 As part of the new thresholds, partners are recognised for their investment in certification and growing their Xero client list. For growing and highly trained partners, a special distinction has been introduced in the partner program called Xero Champion, with extra rewards for partners achieving champion performance.

 The Partner Program and Advisor Directory highlights Xero’s commitment to being the best in the industry and follows Xero’s recognition for the second year running as the number one accounting solution in Australia, according to the annual Canstar Blue report, Forbes’ Most Innovative Growth Company in consecutive years;  UK Cloud Awards for Financial Product of the Year, and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise International Business Award winner for leadership excellence.

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UK might need negative rates if recovery disappoints – BoE’s Vlieghe

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UK might need negative rates if recovery disappoints - BoE's Vlieghe 1

By David Milliken and William Schomberg

LONDON (Reuters) – The Bank of England might need to cut interest rates below zero later this year or in 2022 if a recovery in the economy disappoints, especially if there is persistent unemployment, policymaker Gertjan Vlieghe said on Friday.

Vlieghe said he thought the likeliest scenario was that the economy would recover strongly as forecast by the central bank earlier this month, meaning a further loosening of monetary policy would not be needed.

Data published on Friday suggested the economy had stabilised after a new COVID-19 lockdown hit retailers last month, while businesses and consumers are hopeful a fast vaccination campaign will spur a recovery.

Vlieghe said in a speech published by the BoE that there was a risk of lasting job market weakness hurting wages and prices.

“In such a scenario, I judge more monetary stimulus would be appropriate, and I would favour a negative Bank Rate as the tool to implement the stimulus,” he said.

“The time to implement it would be whenever the data, or the balance of risks around it, suggest that the recovery is falling short of fully eliminating economic slack, which might be later this year or into next year,” he added.

Vlieghe’s comments are similar to those of fellow policymaker Michael Saunders, who said on Thursday negative rates could be the BoE’s best tool in future.

Earlier this month the BoE gave British financial institutions six months to get ready for the possible introduction of negative interest rates, though it stressed that no decision had been taken on whether to implement them.

Investors saw the move as reducing the likelihood of the BoE following other central banks and adopting negative rates.

Some senior BoE policymakers, such as Deputy Governor Dave Ramsden, believe that adding to the central bank’s 875 billion pounds ($1.22 trillion) of government bond purchases remains the best way of boosting the economy if needed.

Vlieghe underscored the scale of the hit to Britain’s economy and said it was clear the country was not experiencing a V-shaped recovery, adding it was more like “something between a swoosh-shaped recovery and a W-shaped recovery.”

“I want to emphasise how far we still have to travel in this recovery,” he said, adding that it was “highly uncertain” how much of the pent-up savings amassed by households during the lockdowns would be spent.

By contrast, last week the BoE’s chief economist, Andy Haldane, likened the economy to a “coiled spring.”

Vlieghe also warned against raising interest rates if the economy appeared to be outperforming expectations.

“It is perfectly possible that we have a short period of pent up demand, after which demand eases back again,” he said.

Higher interest rates were unlikely to be appropriate until 2023 or 2024, he said.

($1 = 0.7146 pounds)

(Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by William Schomberg)

 

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UK economy shows signs of stabilisation after new lockdown hit

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UK economy shows signs of stabilisation after new lockdown hit 2

By William Schomberg and David Milliken

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s economy has stabilised after a new COVID-19 lockdown last month hit retailers, and business and consumers are hopeful the vaccination campaign will spur a recovery, data showed on Friday.

The IHS Markit/CIPS flash composite Purchasing Managers’ Index, a survey of businesses, suggested the economy was barely shrinking in the first half of February as companies adjusted to the latest restrictions.

A separate survey of households showed consumers at their most confident since the pandemic began.

Britain’s economy had its biggest slump in 300 years in 2020, when it contracted by 10%, and will shrink by 4% in the first three months of 2021, the Bank of England predicts.

The central bank expects a strong subsequent recovery because of the COVID-19 vaccination programme – though policymaker Gertjan Vlieghe said in a speech on Friday that the BoE could need to cut interest rates below zero later this year if unemployment stayed high.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due on Monday to announce the next steps in England’s lockdown but has said any easing of restrictions will be gradual.

Official data for January underscored the impact of the latest lockdown on retailers.

Retail sales volumes slumped by 8.2% from December, a much bigger fall than the 2.5% decrease forecast in a Reuters poll of economists, and the second largest on record.

“The only good thing about the current lockdown is that it’s no way near as bad for the economy as the first one,” Paul Dales, an economist at Capital Economics, said.

The smaller fall in retail sales than last April’s 18% plunge reflected growth in online shopping.

BORROWING SURGE SLOWED IN JANUARY

There was some better news for finance minister Rishi Sunak as he prepares to announce Britain’s next annual budget on March 3.

Though public sector borrowing of 8.8 billion pounds ($12.3 billion) was the first January deficit in a decade, it was much less than the 24.5 billion pounds forecast in a Reuters poll.

That took borrowing since the start of the financial year in April to 270.6 billion pounds, reflecting a surge in spending and tax cuts ordered by Sunak.

The figure does not count losses on government-backed loans which could add 30 billion pounds to the shortfall this year, but the deficit is likely to be smaller than official forecasts, the Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank said.

Sunak is expected to extend a costly wage subsidy programme, at least for the hardest-hit sectors, but he said the time for a reckoning would come.

“It’s right that once our economy begins to recover, we should look to return the public finances to a more sustainable footing and I’ll always be honest with the British people about how we will do this,” he said.

Some economists expect higher taxes sooner rather than later.

“Big tax rises eventually will have to be announced, with 2022 likely to be the worst year, so that they will be far from voters’ minds by the time of the next general election in May 2024,” Samuel Tombs, at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said.

Public debt rose to 2.115 trillion pounds, or 97.9% of gross domestic product – a percentage not seen since the early 1960s.

The PMI survey and a separate measure of manufacturing from the Confederation of British Industry, showing factory orders suffering the smallest hit in a year, gave Sunak some cause for optimism.

IHS Markit’s chief business economist, Chris Williamson, said the improvement in business expectations suggested the economy was “poised for recovery.”

However the PMI survey showed factory output in February grew at its slowest rate in nine months. Many firms reported extra costs and disruption to supply chains from new post-Brexit barriers to trade with the European Union since Jan. 1.

Vlieghe warned against over-interpreting any early signs of growth. “It is perfectly possible that we have a short period of pent up demand, after which demand eases back again,” he said.

“We are experiencing something between a swoosh-shaped recovery and a W-shaped recovery. We are clearly not experiencing a V-shaped recovery.”

($1 = 0.7160 pounds)

(Editing by Angus MacSwan and Timothy Heritage)

 

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Oil extends losses as Texas prepares to ramp up output

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Oil extends losses as Texas prepares to ramp up output 3

By Devika Krishna Kumar

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil prices fell for a second day on Friday, retreating further from recent highs as Texas energy companies began preparations to restart oil and gas fields shuttered by freezing weather.

Brent crude futures were down 33 cents, or 0.5%, at $63.60 a barrel by 11:06 a.m. (1606 GMT) U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 60 cents, or 1%, to $59.92.

This week, both benchmarks had climbed to the highest in more than a year.

“Price pullback thus far appears corrective and is slight within the context of this month’s major upside price acceleration,” said Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates.

Unusually cold weather in Texas and the Plains states curtailed up to 4 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude production and 21 billion cubic feet of natural gas, analysts estimated.

Texas refiners halted about a fifth of the nation’s oil processing amid power outages and severe cold.

Companies were expected to prepare for production restarts on Friday as electric power and water services slowly resume, sources said.

“While much of the selling relates to a gradual resumption of power in the Gulf coast region ahead of a significant temperature warmup, the magnitude of this week’s loss of supply may require further discounting given much uncertainty regarding the extent and possible duration of lost output,” Ritterbusch said.

Oil fell despite a surprise drop in U.S. crude stockpiles in the week to Feb. 12, before the big freeze. Inventories fell by 7.3 million barrels to 461.8 million barrels, their lowest since March, the Energy Information Administration reported on Thursday. [EIA/S]

The United States on Thursday said it was ready to talk to Iran about returning to a 2015 agreement that aimed to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Still, analysts did not expect near-term reversal of sanctions on Iran that were imposed by the previous U.S. administration.

“This breakthrough increases the probability that we may see Iran returning to the oil market soon, although there is much to be discussed and a new deal will not be a carbon-copy of the 2015 nuclear deal,” said StoneX analyst Kevin Solomon.

(Additional reporting by Ahmad Ghaddar in London and Roslan Khasawneh in Singapore and Sonali Paul in Melbourne; Editing by Jason Neely, David Goodman and David Gregorio)

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