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“Cloud Stories is the world’s coolest accounting podcast” A guy on the Internet told me this once, and I choose to believe him!

The Cloud Stories podcast explores how business solutions integrate with online accounting software (Xero, MYOB and or QBO), and can, in turn, automate processes and improve productivity and profitability. By sharing Cloud Stories from the community listeners gain insights into how small businesses and advisory services can thrive in a brave new world of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robots.

Over the years, Heather Smith has interviewed Accountants • Bookkeepers • Business Consultants • Cloud Advisors • Cloud Integrators • Developers • Small Business Owners • and Solution Providers • who have generously shared their own Cloud Story on the popular podcast.

Contact Heather: https://heathersmithsmallbusiness.com/

Feb 20, 2015

Ep.12 Barry Dowling – TransferMate Global Payments – Minimising costs and complexities associated with foreign currency payments seamlessly from with Xero

Highlights of my conversation with Barry Dowling

·        Spending time to understand your client

·        Using client feedback to tweak the solution offered

·        Achieving the milestone of $5US billion in transfers

·        Using referral links as a marketing strategy

Subscribe to Episode 12 of Cloud Stories on iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/cloud-stories-heather-smith/id908333807

Transcript

Heather:        Heather Smith here. Welcome to Cloud Stories. Today I’m talking with Barry Dowling. Barry Dowling is the cofounder of TransferMate Global Payments. He is dedicated to making the process of booking foreign currency payments seamless, easier, faster and cheaper. TransferMate Global Payments is a global Fintech company that provides integrated solutions enabling companies to seamlessly process international payments. They provide a 24 hour phone service and online systems to enable clients to seamlessly process their foreign currency payments. They sync with Xero, enabling Xero users to cut down on wasteful double entry and transaction costs when processing payments.

Whether your business is based in Australia and looking to transfer funds to China or based in California and transferring to the U.K., TransferMate has the widest collection of payment licences worldwide, enabling their team to assist clients get a better deal than using their bank.

I started by asking Barry who is his favourite super hero and why?

Barry:             Who is my favourite? I really didn’t expect that question to be honest. I can’t help get Wonder Woman out of my head which is not saying too much but I’d have to stick with Wonder Woman. It’s the first thing that came into my head.

Heather:        Sensational. You’re not into super heroes then?

Barry:             Listen, I like them all to be honest with you. Wolverine, I’d be a big fan of Wolverine too but listen, to be honest with you, as a kid growing up in the 80s, Wonder Woman would have held most of our fascination, so I’ll have to stick with her.

Heather:        This is going to timestamp this interview but you must be excited by the news, the Spiderman/Wolverine news that came out yesterday, that they’re now allowed to be in the same shows together.

Barry:             Oh, I didn’t realise they were prohibited from that before, were they?

Heather:        They were owned by different companies. The comics were owned by different …

Barry:             Marvel and …

Heather:        Sony. Something Sony, I’m not exactly sure of all the details but I know that now they can appear on shows together.

Barry:             Well, all I know is whoever is behind the marketing of Lego is destroying our bank balance with our kids. Every superhero Lego character is there.

Heather:        Cool. You’ll have to turn it into little videos for your products and then you can have it as a tax deduction. Yes, they always go viral those videos do.

Barry:             That’s a very good idea.

So Barry, you cofounded a business called TransferMate Global Payments. Is that the full name of it? Is that correct?

Barry:             That’s right, yes. It’s generally referred to as TransferMate. As the name suggests, ultimately our core service is to help clients transferring money. At the moment, still about 90% of companies would use the bank. There’s a better way to do it. Quite often businesses get caught up with naturally running their own business and taking care of sales and dealing with inventory and everything that goes with that, and in terms of all the daily activities, making the payment is kind of the one that slots in as a once a fortnight, once a monthly activity.

It doesn’t get as much attention but when you look at it, it’s quite apparent that the banks charge too much generally, as a general rule of thumb.

Heather:        Absolutely. So you would probably be in agreement that businesses don’t think about the actual cost of the payment involved, it’s kind of like an afterthought.

Barry:             Well, I think that it doesn’t help that the banks are less than transparent. Quite often if you do a transfer to the bank … we’ve checked with all the banks in Australia, and as a general rule of thumb, without naming banks, the fees are typically anything between $22 and $35. You can even look at let’s say … we’ve talked to Xero clients in the States and one in particular is paying their US bank $80 for no apparent reason, and it’s sometimes just rolled up in a monthly fee but typically $22 to $35.

But that’s not really where the loss is. The loss can be seen in the exchange rate and the exchange rates can ultimately be beaten. Quite often what you’ll find is a company will say, “You know, I’m inclined to do …” if you’re a Xero partner and you have clients that do foreign currency payments and you speak with them, quite often the client will do what they’ve always done.

The whole idea of cloud accounting broke that myth and has revolutionised accounting. In the same way, this should really do it for the client. I suppose all the client really needs to see is a comparison cost to really get themselves interested.

Heather:        Yes, absolutely. So what you’re saying is there are two expenses involved: both the actual charge and then the exchange rate, and it’s understanding there are better alternatives out there.

                        Go on, sorry, I didn’t mean to cut you off.

Barry:             I was just going to say, technically there’s three: the exchange rate, the sender fee and the receiver fee.

Heather:        Yes.

Barry:             So if you’re an Australian business making a payment to the UK, the UK bank in addition charge a fee too because the beneficiary receives the payment and the bank says, “You know what, I’m going to charge you for receiving that.” Why? Because you can’t do anything better.

Heather:        Yes.

Barry:             So what we’ve created is a bank-to-bank network worldwide. We have bank accounts in 90 countries. When we make a payment to the UK from Australia, as one example, we pay out of our UK account. So we receive in Australia and pay out of the UK.

Heather:        Okay.

Barry:             That way it avoids all the international fees altogether. We’re effectively using our own clearing system.

Heather:        Excellent, yes, and you are unaware of that. I know I’ve dealt with business and we’ve paid the business, and then they’ve said, “Yes but you owe us another $20 after you’ve paid them like $20,000,” and you’re like going, “Seriously? We paid everything we were supposed to pay there,” but we didn’t realise that was happening.

What inspired you to start TransferMate Global Payments then?

Barry:             I suppose we’ve been involved with a number of online businesses in the past. It’s only really when we got a chance to look deep down at the rates and the fees the banks were charging that we realised that there was a better way to do it. I suppose back in 2010/2011, we had quite a number of corporate clients that we felt needed a service that would beat the banks. At the time there was one licence required to operate this service.

So we took about six months to get the licence and it was very much a … there wasn’t very much technically involved. We were basically dealing with the banks and we’d get a wholesale deal with the banks and we were able to … the same way a wholesaler gets better pricing for a product and can pass something on to the retailer, we had the same on our setup.

Then I suppose over the years we advanced. We now transfer $5 billion US dollars on behalf of clients worldwide.

Heather:        Wow.

Barry:             The system that we built automatically prices up wholesale banks. A lot of the banks we would have traditionally bought currency off can’t give us the currency at the rates we buy it off. So we’re now buying it, in many cases, at the same rates the banks are buying it at. With the volume you buy, you can really go in and get the best possible deal. The systems that we built are all in-house and they’re bulletproof. We set them up in 2010 and it’s just getting better and better and better. I suppose a natural progression was to integrate into the likes of Xero to make the whole process much easier.

Heather:        That’s really interesting.

What have been the biggest challenges and obstacles that you’ve faced running this business and growing this business?

Barry:             I guess a challenge is always getting the brand out there. I have to say, I guess it would be the case for a lot of services, it’s ultimately the idea of apathy. How do you convince a client what they’re doing today and have done for years … everyone knows a client – I wouldn’t say stubborn – but has run a successful business. They’re the boss. They’ve been doing something for 10 years and you walk in and you know where you stand with them in terms of accounts, “You do that but this is my business,” kind of way. It’s trying to convince him that there’s another way to do it without maybe telling the client, you know, any obligation.

                        We win over clients but it does take time. I suppose it’s that time that it takes because when we contact clients, they typically don’t have a payment today. So the analogy I use is it’s kind of like approaching a client after coming out of a restaurant and saying, “We’ve got a nicer hamburger.” They’d say, “Great, I’ve already eaten.” So the timing isn’t quite good. It’s a case of timing really.

Heather:        Yes, I know in situations where I’m dealing with businesses and they’re doing this, when they need to do the transfer, they have no time to actually think about doing it a better way, so they never have anything in place. They also just keep going through the same old process. I know I’m quite detailed in that I split out all the expenses related to exchange rate both movements and charges, and they really, really add up, and they’re just straight off the bottom line if you’re not monitoring them.

Barry:             That’s kind of interesting. From a Xero perspective, and Xero handles foreign currency far better than most accounting packages out there …

Heather:        Yes, love the way it manager multi-currency in Xero. Love it.

Barry:             It’s brilliant. But nevertheless, if you have say 10 payments to make today, when it comes back to actually making those payments you have to go into your online banking, make each one individually, then you have to go back to your account software, change the exchange rate, account for the bank fees.

Believe it or now, for each payment, it probably takes about five minutes. You can do it faster if you rush but it probably takes five minutes. With the add-on that we created, you can literally click a button, log in, it pulls 100 payments in for example, shows you the live rates, the fees are automatically 75% cheaper than the bank, you click one button and it does all the auto posting of the currency loss, gains, bank fees, and the payments directly into your account software.

Heather:        Excellent.

Barry:             It’s much, much more time efficient, and funnily enough, that’s the part the clients really like.

Heather:        The time efficiency.

Barry:             Yes, because the fee thing, they can kind of get over the $10 or the $15 or whatever they save in fees but what they see is the hassle gone. That’s what they really like.

Heather:        Let’s jump ahead.

Can you describe to our listeners … I’ve got Xero running and I want to integrate it to TransferMate, what does that look like and how quickly does it take me to set it up?

Barry:             Okay, so it takes two minutes to register. All I need to do … there’s a special website for Xero add-on and it’s called TransferMateonline.com.

Heather:        I’ll put that in the show notes for listeners.

Barry:             Perfect, yes. There’s a special link also on your website obviously. We’ll make sure we fast track those but basically once they register on that website then they’ll have a one page, we call it an AML form, it’s like a signup form and we just need those details there for regulatory purposes. It’s nothing serious. It just says who are the shareholders, who are the directors, sign here, that’s really all. Then we take that to our compliance team and it’s set up usually either same day or within 24 hours, and then the client’s pretty much good to go.

                        We provide all the help in terms of setting up the add-on but it’s really, really simple. They just simply add their bank account, add a few supplier background details, and they’re ready to go.

Heather:        Excellent.

Do you think the payment fees on your solution are less than if you’re paying say subscriptions via PayPal?

Barry:             I’m not too sure what the subscriptions are to be honest with you but I do know that PayPal, the exchange rate, is basically 3-odd percent. So it’s definitely not … if you’re doing any payments of any consequence, it’s definitely cheaper to use our solution.

Heather:        Excellent.

Where about is your business based Barry?

Barry:             We have an office in Sydney and we have offices in Chicago, London, Dublin, Madrid and Paris. They’re our main offices.

Heather:        Excellent. So you’ve got quite a lot of offices then.

Barry:             Yes, but mainly what we do is we wanted to provide a 24 hour solution for clients, so if you’re a client in Australia, for whatever reason you want to check a payment at 9 o’clock at night, you can pick up the phone and you’ll get through to our team in Europe. It’s the same as the CRM system. Everyone would be able to tell you what’s happening with your file. Equally if a client wants to call at 2 o’clock in the morning, they’re talking to our US office, and same again. We provide a 24 hour solution for clients worldwide. We have a big base of clients in the US and Europe and increasingly in Australia and New-Zealand.

Heather:        Wow, so it’s 24/7 access to the solution and it’s operating globally, so all of Xero’s global customers can access your solution if they need to.

Barry:             Absolutely.

Heather:        Excellent. I was going to ask sort of what business industries does the solution suit but I’m guessing it’s anyone who is transferring money internationally.

Barry:             Yes, you’d be amazed … well not amazed, you mentioned the Spiderman figures, I suppose as shocked as I was with the question and had no answers, if I told you exactly what sort of companies or the crazy stuff they’re doing, I’d probably bowl you over too but it’s really anything. I suppose, in my experience, it’s typically somebody who basically imports a product and then basically resells it. But you also have services, business that might … it’s really kind of anything. Like if you look at … I suppose 70-80% of the payments out of Australia, for example, are in US dollar. I’d hazard a guess that about 60-70% of those are to China and they are to buy products.

Heather:        Yes, absolutely.

Barry:             Right now it’s quite an interesting time because I saw in the Sydney Morning Herald today that the rate, the US dollar/Aussie rate is expected to go down to 0.68, so it’s quite an important time to be making sure you’re getting I suppose the best rate.

Heather:        Absolutely, from an Australian perspective, yes.

Barry:             I’m sorry. Equally I suppose there are pressures on all currencies against the US dollar at the moment but I suppose time has changed, while the US dollar is strong now it may not necessarily be but it’s forecast to have a lot of strength over the next year.

Heather:        It just seems to be an ever growing roller coaster. I’d like to probably clarify for our listeners. Xero has various subscription levels, one which has multi-currency in it, however I believe your product will work even if you don’t have the multi-currency level in Xero. Is that correct?

Barry:             Yes, in order to get the integration and the benefits, what the add-on does is it pulls in the invoices that are due and it pushes them back as paid. So it needs to know what currency they are to show you a rate but if you don’t have multi-currency enabled, you can use the standalone website which is just TransferMate.com/xero as opposed to TransferMateonline.com.

The other part we’ve seen is despite the fact that the multi-currency is so easy to setup in the packet, some clients just say, “I don’t need to pay X for it. I don’t do enough payments.” But if you look at the savings you can make on a couple of payments, it warrants … and we’ve seen it, clients upgrading to the premier package, they can see the benefits of time saving. Even if they’re making a couple of payments a month, that in itself warrants even looking at maybe upgrading.

Heather:        So upgrading their Xero package.

Barry:             Exactly, yes.

Heather:        I do find that a lot of people have this mentality that if something is online they shouldn’t pay for it. You explain to them, “But look at the time it’s saving you,” and it’s a real mindset that they’ve got, “Well, I can just spend that hour doing that.”

Barry:             Totally.

Heather:        It’s like, “Wouldn’t that hour be better off enjoying yourself on the beach or working with your customers, like not doing an administrative process that doesn’t need to be done. It can be completely automated.”

Barry:             You could be playing with Spiderman and Batman on the beach.

Heather:        You could be. You could be making little videos of Spiderman, turning your videos viral.

Barry:             You’re totally right. Some people are inclined not to put a value on their time. I suppose really good business, like the Xero advisers, this whole kind of revolution … the whole era of the adviser level doesn’t really appear at all in the UK/Ireland, but it’s very, very … you can feel it’s very strong in the Australia/New Zealand, and it’s great for businesses to have that kind of crutch to lean on. I don’t think it exists in the UK/Ireland.

Heather:        Yes, it’s interesting watching the wave spread across the world on social media and how people are kind of reacting to it and how the early adopters are reacting to it and how other people are like going, “No, I don’t want to do it that way. I don’t want to let anyone loose on our accounts,” and stuff like that.

What have been some of the key milestones or successes in growing your business Barry?

Barry:             Well, the way we look at it is every week we have clients coming onboard and asking, “You know what, this feature here, this is the way we want to do it.” There’s always a tweak that a client is going to put to the add-on because surprisingly enough it’s not simply just putting your payments and pushing them through. That’s a really good challenge for us because for me it’s important to make sure the Xero add-on is the best available. Our developers are great. They turn around change really quickly. So we want to make sure that it’s as good as it could ever be.

                        I just love, to be honest, talking to a client and seeing how quickly the changes go into play because quite often with the desktop software, people are used to not having to put up with whatever they get.

Heather:        The annual update.

Barry:             Yes. It’s just great when you have a client and you know you’re saving them time. Again, with the Xero software in particular, what I find really interesting is how open clients are to kind of looking at the add-ons in particular because they expect that kind of eco system which is great.

Heather:        Yes, that is true because I’ve been on desktop software for a long time and I was just like complacent. I know the first time I heard Rod Drury speak about Xero, etc., I was astonished at how upset he was about desktop software and how frustrated he found it. I was like, “Wow, it’s not that bad,” but I kind of get it now. It took me a while to get onboard with that. I now find it frustrating. It’s like, “Why won’t it work,” but it’s the evolution of it.

Barry:             Just on the back of that another milestone for us to hit I suppose it’s a really big number and one we’re proud of, $5 billion transfers …

Heather:        Yes, that’s seriously big.

Barry:             On the scale of things, it’s very, very small. In Australia alone there’s $200 billion in foreign currency payments taking place for small to medium business, and again, I think it’s $70 billion in New Zealand. US – you can imagine the size of the market. I suppose it’s great to know that when we see our numbers escalating like that, it just tells us that we’re doing something right. It’s great to see.

Heather:        And someone is making a lot of money on the foreign exchange if that’s the number of foreign exchange transactions that are happening. The banks are – is what I’m saying, and they could be saving a lot of money using you.

Barry:             Well, I think so. I suppose the great thing about the add-on is they don’t need to take our word for it. They can just quickly sign up and they can check themselves. Sometimes our clients will just pick up the phone and call us and get a rate quote. That’s I suppose the great thing about it: it’s an alternative but not an obligation.

So they can get a rate quote without pushing through the money?

Barry:             Yes, absolutely.

Heather:        They can get a rate quote before the transaction happens.

Barry:             You can pick up the phone 24 hours a day and say to the guys, “I heard about you. Give me a rate.”

Heather:        Excellent.

How many people do you have on your development team Barry?

Barry:             About 12 including web developers and database developers. I suppose the system that we have in place is … we’re kind of unique in that we spent a long time getting regulated and we’re probably one of the more regulated businesses of our kind in the world. In the US along, you have to be regulated in each state. To give you an example, in California, it took 18 months to get regulation, and you have to have a million dollars in deposit.

It’s not something that you can take lightly. Then you have to do monthly filings with each state. I don’t know where I was going with that. But in terms of our developers, our system has to be up online 99.999% of the time. We’ve got a huge investment in datacentres. All this terminology, I wasn’t really aware of it for … synchronous replication, so if the system goes down it comes back up again in 2 seconds on another site. We’re quite heavy in that respect but we’ve got the best, I think anyway …

Heather:        My transcriber is going to love that word – synchronous replication.

Where about are your datacentres based?

Barry:             They’re based in the States and also in Europe.

Heather:        Excellent. So you’ve just come home from London Xerocon.

Can you share with us what your experience was like at London Xerocon? That’s 2015 for people listening in.

Barry:             I’ve been to Xerocon in Sydney and it definitely had the same theme. The whole place was buzzing with energy.

Heather:        Yes.

Barry:             I think it was packed to capacity. Everyone seemed to kind of be buzzing off each other, the kind of family feel, it was just … yes, you literally could have closed your eyes and you would have thought you were in the Sydney one.

Heather:        Oh really? There you go. There didn’t seem to be very many kilts hanging around when I saw in the photos there. It just seemed the Satago guys had come down with the kilts.

Barry:             Yes, I think they were dominating the dress wearing.

Did you have any revelations at the London Xerocon?

Barry:             Not necessarily revelations. I just … having walked around talking to a number of accountants at the show, they all seemed … the common theme was ultimately they’ve got to catch up or they’ll be left behind. That’s a very powerful message to somebody who’s been doing the same thing or doing it the same way for years, to be told, “This is what we’ve seen,” because we’ve seen the evidence before. It’s a great way to have a room sit up alert.

Heather:        Yes, we had a local Xero roadshow in Brisbane yesterday and I think it was like 50% of the attendees, if not more, it was the first time they’d been to a Xero roadshow. They were just walking around stunned at what was going on and what was being told at the actual sessions. It’s like, “My goodness, we need to get on this.”

Barry:             I kind of look at it like … and again, I’m not probably representing it right but a lot of the advisers seem to be almost like MacGyver’s with all the add-ons and the functionality of the software. It was kind of like a big bullet belt or suitcase full of tricks that they can show clients that …

Heather:        What do you mean by MacGyver sorry?

Barry:             MacGyver, again, an 80s show. He used to have tricks and ways of getting out of situations …

Heather:        Is he like Inspector Gadget?

Barry:             Yes, kind of like that. So he could basically pick locks with a toothpick or a matchstick. I suppose ultimately the idea being that there wasn’t anything he couldn’t do with his box of tricks. I know this is going to be a 20 year old saying, “Who the hell is MacGyver?”

Heather:        I know I was kind of going … I kind of vaguely knew who he was but wasn’t exactly sure how the reference was working in. But yes, Inspector Gadget, I get what you’re saying and definitely the bookkeepers that I’ve seen who have kind of moved to the cloud integrator space, they’re saying to businesses, “Okay, you’re a business, you need to get in this product, this receipt scanning product, this debt tracking product, this cash flow solution. Integrate it with Xero, and that’s the roll out, and you’re getting that. If anything else is happening then we can talk about it.”

Barry:             Yes.

Heather:        We’re seeing the education of the add-on solutions, which you probably don’t perceive yourself as an add-on solution, but for the people within the Xero community it’s like, “Okay, then this solution TransferMate, we need to add it to all of our companies who have it sitting there as an option for all of our companies who are doing international exchanges.”

Barry:             Yes, and I’d be happy if you did. I suppose an interesting kind of feedback, we saw recently because someone asked us and we hadn’t really kind of looked at it before, was what’s the retention rate? What’s the repeat use rate? It’s over 90% which is phenomenal I think, which ultimately tells us that it’s working and clients like it. The main reason why the 10% aren’t mainly is because they don’t have payments [for tolls? 00:27:24].

Heather:        Yes, people evolve their business. Look, whenever I put in a new solution, I always evaluate the time cost and will drop it if it’s not beating that. But even if I’m using a solution, sometimes for 40 minutes a month, I know it’s saving me so much money in the actual use of it. I just keep adopting and plugging in more. Then people come and say to me, “How can you manage to do so much?” I’m like, “Well, all of my life is automated, so that’s how I manage to do it.”

Barry:             Actually that was one of the take points from the show. I suppose one of the gold partners sat up on stage and he was asked, “What has it meant to him,” and he said, “Well, typically I have a big client, for example, that would normally take two staff, two days to do a return for him. Now it takes one staff, one day.” So he said it’s quite a simple way to break it down in terms of the cost saving.

Heather:        Absolutely.

Barry:             But even if you look at the add-ons, traditionally I would have seen old desktop software, and you have clients clambering around trying to find inventory, third party inventory, to slot in and their pieces don’t really fit in well. But it just seems to be the eco system here is quite unique in that the pieces have to work.

Heather:        Yes, absolutely. I think the technology behind the open published API which I’m not pretending to understand exactly, everyone seems to say is like this phenomenal, “Click and it works, and the flow of data is what’s saving us all that time, that automation.”

Barry:             Well, the great thing about it is the team in Xero, the developer team, can see that it works. You can’t build an add-on and say it works because they’ll say, “No, it doesn’t. We can see that.”

Heather:        And everyone raves about the Xero developer team, so that’s good to know.

To ask you a bit more about your business, what activities have been successful for TransferMate in generating leads for your business?

Barry:             I suppose typically it’s going through and contacting accountants, letting them know how the service works. We do a little bit of social but ultimately it’s picking up the phone and calling companies. I suppose it’s ultimately getting to talk to clients, getting directly to a client is something we can measure a lot easier than necessarily going through a channel because I suppose we’re talking directly to the client, so we can know if we make X amount of calls today … it might sound like a funny way of doing things but that’s what we find has traditionally worked.

But we’re more open to we now have a partner channel where we have the centres in place for the accounting partners to earn additional revenue stream by telling their clients about the service, and in doing so having the clients save money. That’s a more logical way to go for us and it’s something we really, really encourage.

Heather:        Do you want to expand on your partner programme?

Barry:             Yes, so in effect what we do is, if you’re a partner and you believe you’ve got clients or you may know of companies that make international payments, we provide a unique tracked web form and we simply give it to you to put on your website.

If someone stumbles across it, they may not even be your own client, they may be a company down the road or somebody who has come across your website because you perform well in the search engines, as long as they see that link there in the website and they register, automatically we sign up the client and every time the client books payments, there is a referral fee split for the partner, and the partner can track that online in our online system. So the more clients transfer, they simply log in every [one? 00:31:26] and they can see exactly what’s been earned and how active their clients are, referrals are.

So you’re effectively encouraging partners to assist in the selling process on your behalf?

Barry:             I suppose what I’d liken it to is basically opening the door and letting our flyer in I guess to some degree. If you can imagine we’re in a neighbourhood, and there’s a roundabout in the middle, and there are eight houses around that roundabout, and all the doors are closed but there’s a party happening inside every house, we’re kind of just saying, “Open your door and let us in.”

Heather:        Sensational. I’ve not heard it described that way but yes, it’s a warm introduction.

Barry:             And to be honest with you, that’s why I guess the relationship that advisers have with clients is naturally a very strong one. It’s one of advice. It’s one of reliance to some degree, and because of that there is trust there that helps us move past, “Who are you,” to “Okay, I understand you’re a good company. What does your service do?”

Heather:        Excellent. Yes, absolutely.

On the technical side of that, I think you used a different term – referral link, but in terms of the referral link or the affiliate link, is it built in-house or did you use a commissioning programme to provide that?

Barry:             We built it all in-house.

Heather:        With your smart team of developers, sensational.

Barry:             I guess to be honest with you, we’ve been involved in online businesses for I suppose the best part of 10 years. The one thing we’ve seen from day one, our referral programmes were like many which is basically, “Tell us a client and we’ll record all the details and sales and we’ll share Excel sheets.” It just doesn’t work. Partners shouldn’t need to have to second guess or figure out how it works. It should be very, very transparent.

                        The way it works is quite simply if a client books a payment, signs up and books a payment today, within five minutes you’ll be able to login and see the details right through our system. That’s exactly the way it should be.

Heather:        Excellent. It sounds like another solution you could sell to the cloud community …

Barry:             Yes, we’ll have to get on it.

Heather:        You could split of and sell.

What have you learnt from running your business?

Barry:             I suppose I’ve learned that power of the brand. So early days we would go out and we would tell clients about what we do and it shouldn’t really be about, in my opinion … I guess it’s nice to build a big brand out there but it’s also, in terms of scaling up, it’s nice to be able to lean on an existing brand whether that be an adviser brand or a Xero brand. I suppose clients, when they understand the association between Xero, as an example, it opens the door a lot easier.

Heather:        Yes.

Barry:             I understood very quickly that the cold call is a cold call. The warmer it can be obviously the quicker you can get to where you need to get to. Other than that, I suppose it’s the same principle for any business: you’ve got to say what you do. If you win a client it doesn’t mean they’re going to stay, particularly in the Xero community. If you don’t do what you’ll say you’ll do, it won’t go unnoticed. You have to basically stand by your service and I suppose take care of business.

Heather:        I guess that’s actually when we’ve moved from desktop to cloud computing, we’ve also evolved into social media. So whenever something goes wrong, it’s just all across there and these grumpy people have these grumpy complaints about stuff, so you’ve got to be on the ball all the time with it, just monitoring it what’s going on with stuff.

Barry:             It’s interesting though, while the Australian banks aren’t necessarily the best, they’re not the worst.

Heather:        No.

Barry:             We have clients … the French banks are charging up to 12% on foreign exchange to clients.

Heather:        Wow.

Barry:             I asked one of our clients before to ask their client three questions for a partner and the three questions were: who are you using? Question two was basically how do you find our service now? Three: would you recommend it? When it came to the third question after saying he used a particular bank in France, the answer from the client was, “Not only would I recommend you but when I told my bank the rate you gave me, they told me to use you too.”

Heather:        That’s a great case study.

Barry:             Yes.

Heather:        So I’ve got one final question for you Barry. No, I’ve got two actually.

First question is will we be seeing you at Auckland Xerocon?

Barry:             I hope so. We have a team in Australia, so I hope to have one of our team in Auckland, absolutely.

Heather:        Sensational. I’m planning to go so I’ll see someone there.

My final question for you Barry is what advice would you have for your 18 year old self?

Barry:             Ah, you hit me with another one. Don’t throw out the Superman figuruines.

Heather:        Because you can make a lot of money.

Barry:             Put away the Wonder Woman outfit. No, what would my advice for my 18 year old self … my advice would be I suppose from day one I’ve always wanted to be involved and working for myself in one of my own businesses.

When I was 18 in school, I didn’t think … I was fully of ideas but I just didn’t think I was ready for it yet. I ducked into a master’s for a year and it gave me a lot of time to sit back and work on concepts and I suppose just ready myself, but like anything else, get out there and if you’re … I suppose it depends what you want to do. I’m from a family who like to sell things and ultimately that’s what we do. We’ve got that in us whether we do it well or not. I suppose it’s in our blood. It’s what we love to do. So do what you love to do and ideally keep on doing it.

Heather:        Do you think that the master’s helped you or do you think it was just the time that helped you while you were doing the master’s?

Barry:             I think … looking back on it now to be honest with you, I think … it seems to be more logical for someone to take a masters on after you’ve … so they may have gone through college, they may not have but they find themselves in the workforce and they may not be doing things particular right or there are processes they could be doing better. Then when they go to do a masters, they can understand, “Well, that’s what I should be doing.”

It kind of puts a framework on top of it. I’m kind of glad. It sounds a bit square to do it so I’m kind of just glad I got it. I knew I had to do it straight away after I finished college because I knew as soon as I got out and started selling, I wasn’t going to want to go back to college.

Heather:        Yes, absolutely.

Barry:             Our best sales guys did not spend any time in college. I suppose if it’s … I know quite often in terms of candidates looking for work, they’re preoccupied with finding candidates that have college degrees but I suppose there is nothing better than finding somebody with a passion and being likeable. So I don’t really necessarily think that everybody should have one.

Heather:        No, the education question I think is evolving very quickly as we speed up. I think concise learning is really important but this extended long learning is interesting, whether it’s still going to be relevant in many years to come.

Barry:             I suppose cloud accounting wasn’t taught in college. It was probably learnt in the minds of creative thinkers.

Heather:        Absolutely. I’m a professional accountant so I used to get up at 4 o’clock in the morning and study through till 11 o’clock in the evening for like four years while I completed my qualifications while working full time. I’m looking back on it, “Hmm, I’m not sure it was worth it.” But anyway, it’s done, box ticked.

Barry:             I guess the accountant is different. Like it’s lovely to be able to have an actual skill, a passport that can say, “You know what, as a matter of fact, this is a tangible skill to have.” It’s a great thing to have. I suppose in the marketing/sales side of it, you have to rely on a little bit of luck, a little bit of ideas and timing, and [crosstalk 00:40:29] I guess.

Heather:        Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for speaking to me today Barry. I really appreciate it and I’m sure the listeners will get a lot of information from this session as well as learning more about TransferMate Global Payments and also about how you grew your cloud business globally. Thank you very much.

Barry:             Thank you very much for your time.

Heather:        Cheers.

Barry:             Take care. Talk to you soon. Bye-bye.

Heather:        Thanks a lot Barry. Bye.

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·        TransferMate Global Payments - http://www.TransferMate.com/

·        Fintech - http://www.fintechinnovationlab.com/

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