IN THE HOT SEAT: Accounting for taste

IN THE HOT SEAT: Accounting for taste

Peter Ferrigno knows MYOB software isn't the most fashionable product on the shelves, but he is confident of its worth to small businesses across Australia. And with the Federal Government's superannuation choice policy on the way, the national acquisitions manager and IT channel manager is flagging even more opportunities for resellers promoting accounting software.

What is your professional background?

Peter Ferrigno (PF): I've been with MYOB since 2002 after joining from a national IT&T account management role with Telstra. I've been involved in retail channels for 20 years, firstly managing consumer electronic outlets then moving over to account management with Sharp, General Electric and Hitachi.

What are the main responsibilities of your role?

PF: Primarily leading the channel team of six account managers located across the country and strengthening our relationships with key resellers, as well as maximising channel opportunities for our partners. The account team is also responsible for dealing directly our key retailers like Coles Myer, Woolworths, Officeworks, Harris Technology, Dick Smiths and Harvey Norman.

How is the MYOB channel set up in terms of distribution and resellers?

PF: We have four geographically separated distributors: Zeus Technology in Perth, Intellitron in Brisbane, HiTech in Adelaide and Express Online in Sydney. Each has exclusivity in its region.

Our resellers are divided up into non-professional and professional partners. I look after the non-professional partners; that is anyone from mass merchants to smaller IT shops that generally do not hold professional accountancy qualifications. Professional partners include accountants and bookkeepers.

Will you be undertaking any new channel strategies in the near future?

PF: We recently ran a promotion that involves bundling mice and keyboards with our software. We plan to do more of this in the future. Our Accounting Plus package came with a mouse and keyboard and the higher end Accounting Premier package had a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard.

How can prospective partners benefit from an MYOB relationship?

PF: Our resellers benefit from our brand strength that drives traffic to their stores and websites. Accounting products are necessities rather than niceties and are not subject to industry fashions so sales have been growing steadily.

We also offer resellers many ways to have a relationship with us. They can join any of our seven partner schemes that include professional, bookkeeper, accountant, developer, education provider and point of sale partner levels.

What lies ahead for MYOB in terms of product and markets?

PF: We have recently released two totally new products, MYOB RetailBasics and RetailReady POS, which are two new offerings in retail point of sale software. The RetailReady includes POS hardware - scanner, cash drawer and receipt printer that runs on a PC. The electronic cash register market is worth about $40 million in Australia and these products are a great alternative. There are a lot of small retail stores that could benefit from this.

The accounting software area has seen some consolidation and new players. How are market conditions at the moment?

PF: We have continued to grow both in unit sales and value during the past year. The key thing about our business is that when times are tough financial management is even more critical. Business owners are highly unlikely to take risks with lesser known accounting software brands. We are also the leading provider for accounting practices.

What particular opportunities stand out in your market over the remainder of the year?

PF: Our two busy times of the year are February and the end of the financial year in June. But the big market boost for this year is the Federal Government's new superannuation initiative called Superchoice. In July, nearly five million Australians will be allowed to choose how their superannuation is invested. Unfortunately, this will mean more paperwork and hassles for business but we have anticipated that issue and built in Superchoice functionality into payroll component of our Accounting Plus and Accounting Premier. Our resellers will benefit through upgrading users to the new MYOB Superchoice versions.

Apart from that, there are still about 450,000 small businesses in Australia that are still using some form of manual accounts so we haven't reached a peak in terms of market penetration yet.

In terms of your own legacy in the job what would you have liked to achieve?

PF: Working with the channel in better and deeper ways is important to me. So my legacy would be to have liberated and empowered small businesses to succeed using our software.

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