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Xero Accounting suite

Xero find themselves looking for another CFO only a few months after appointing Douglas Jeffries to the role. This appears to be a personal decision as Xero, having just released their annual results appears to be in a strong position. They have 475,000 customers at 31 March 2015 with an annualised committed monthly revenue of $159.3m, which is a 71% growth on the previous year. One assumes that Jeffries has been in a receipt of an offer he cannot refuse from another company and it will be interesting to see where that is.

He put out the following statement “This was a very difficult decision given Xero’s momentum and business potential. The decision to leave is entirely based on my personal objectives and the timing is in no way a reflection of business or financial reporting concerns. It has been especially pleasing over the past few months to see the US leadership team form and deliver improved results”.

Xero only have four CFO’s left!

That Xero remains in capable hands is not in question as there are three former CFO’s on their board for oversight. Ross Jenkins, the CFO prior to Jeffries will reassume the post, though it was unclear whether he would also continue as COO, the role he took on in January 2015. In theory there should be little disruption but the Xero board will want to make an appointment that sticks otherwise some of the investors will begin to wonder why there is a revolving door in such an important post.

Graham Shaw, Chair of Xero’s Audit and Risk Committee commenting of Jeffries announcement on behalf of Xero said “We remain satisfied with the integrity of our financial reporting, systems, and leadership,”. Ironically Xero is not short of a CFO or three, in addition to Jenkins there are three others who have been CFO’s in their career: Graham Shaw, Chair of Xero’s Audit and Risk Committee who was CFO at Works Civil Construction. Chris Liddell, Chairman of Xero’s Board, who was the CFO of Microsoft and GM, and is currently CFO of WME/IMG; and Graham Smith, who was CFO of Salesforce until 2014.

With such strong annual results there should be no shortage of applications, it will be interesting to see how quickly they manage to find someone and whether they return to their original shortlist.

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Steve Brooks
Steve Brooks has worked in IT for nearly 30 years, working through different roles to CIO in a number of vertical markets including Finance, Manufacturing and Real Estate. A qualified Project Manager. He spent 17 years at Savills plc, a FTSE 250 real estate company, rising to CIO before leaving in 2012. Steve is Director of Consultancy at Synonym Ltd and while studying at Henley Business School for his MBA was deputy editor at www.business-cloud.com, a Dods Group publication. He joined CIC as an associate consultant in 2013. He is a member of BCS and an associate member of the Institute of Directors.

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