Annual Reporting: Much more than just a numbers game

I realise that, for the non-financially-minded, an annual report may not seem like the most exciting read – but I’m keen to quash that myth. Because, although I’m a numbers man, I believe the real value of an annual report is far from just the figures…it’s about the opportunity it offers organisations to reflect on the last financial year, consider its impact on where they are now, and look to the future of the business.

As you might have guessed, we’ve just released the 2017 Xref annual report. These documents always take a lot of work to produce. Many members of the team are needed in order to get it right and, as I mentioned to my Xref colleagues, its completion always warrants a little happy dance – which you’ll be glad to hear I’ve done.

But that celebration isn’t just in light of the report going live – pulling it together has shown us that Xref has a lot to celebrate.

The numbers….

Ok, I said it wasn’t all about the numbers but it’s an obvious place to start. FY17 saw some huge financial achievements for Xref, including:

  • A 137 per cent rise in sales, from $1.7 million to $4.1 million
  • A 127 per cent rise in revenue, from $1.3 million to $3 million
  • Record sales achieved in June 2017, of $0.85 million
  • Completion of an $8 million share placement in August 2016

And, closely following the end of the year we saw continued confidence from investors, raising $7.5 million through an oversubscribed share placement. We really hit the ground running in FY18.

The physical growth…

FY17 also saw our team continue to expand globally, so much so that we outgrew offices in both London and Canada. With more than 60 staff at the balance date, we were looking stronger than ever going into the new year. It’s worth noting we are now just a couple of hires away from the 70 mark and, with a newly launched office in Norway and further international expansion plans in the pipeline, we look set to bring on a wealth of additional smart, driven and ambitious new recruits again this year.

We’ve also seen great growth in our client portfolio across all markets. We’ve introduced more than 50 per cent more customers, taking the number of organisations we support globally to more than 600, including 36 per cent of Australia’s ASX Top 50.

The product improvements…

Our unbelievable dev team work in the background to make sure we are providing a seamless, simple solution for clients. But what they do is anything but simple. During FY17 they produced some incredible resolutions to multiple requests, including a brand new employee dashboard, full mobile functionality, time-based referencing, multi-language capabilities and the recently launched Sentiment Engine, to name just a few.

And it’s not all about the improvements we’ve made directly to the platform. We’ve also made huge progress in our global growth strategy to integrate with other, smart HR tech solutions that complement and add to the value we offer clients. Partnerships completed in FY17 included Bullhorn, Expr3ss!, iCIMS, Oracle Taleo, SmartRecruiters and Workday. And in just the last two weeks, we have been able to offer clients in North America a more comprehensive suite of solutions, following integrations with market leaders Checkr and Equifax.

The business wins…

In FY17, we became – a small deal for some maybe, but a huge win for us that, along with our shiny, new brand, marked a shift in the way we talk about ourselves and are seen by others. We’ve gone from being an Australian-based organisation with separate offices overseas, to one, grown-up, global entity.

And I started with the big numbers, so I’ll finish with the biggest win. In FY17 we were recognised as an Employer of Choice by HRD. Based on a survey of employees, this award reassured us that we were right in our belief that our team is not only extremely talented, but is also very happy in what they do.

FY18 is proving to be just as big and exciting so far and with continued growth comes additional challenges, all of which we will adopt in the Xref way – with the efficiency and security offered by technology and automation. As with all Xref processes, anything that can be automated in the financial department, is. Meaning we spend less time crunching the numbers and more time focused on the strategic growth of the business.

We are growing, but we are in control and I genuinely look forward to recording and sharing the outcomes of FY18 this time next year. Watch this space!

Published by James Solomons

FCA, GAICD. Innovative Business Leader. Global CFO @Xref (ASX:XF1). Director at @business_Depot (formerly Aptus Accounting & Advisory @AptusAA). Former Head of Accounting @Xero Australia. Advocate, Entrepreneur & Educator #Family #Football #Fastcars!

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