Johnston Carmichael wins big at cloud accounting ‘Oscars’


Ewan Bolt

Ewan Bolt

Business Advisory Director and Head of Digital Solutions


Johnston Carmichael, Scotland’s largest independent accountancy and business advisory firm, also a UK top 20 firm, has been recognised as Large Firm of the Year at the Xero Awards 2020 – the ‘Oscars’ of the cloud accounting world.

The UK and Ireland Xero awards, held this year in London’s Electric Brixton venue, were established to celebrate excellence in cloud accounting. Xero is the leading cloud accounting app provider, and Johnston Carmichael is a Xero platinum partner – the highest level of Xero knowledge and expertise

Judges praised Johnston Carmichael for utilising Xero’s automation power, “freeing up precious time to spend helping their clients beyond the figures” and noted that the firm had introduced an internal app advisory programme, working closely with a number of Xero app partners.

The firm has invested heavily in its cloud accounting offering in recent years as part of preparations for Making Tax Digital, introduced by HMRC in April 2019. However, the increased focus is also part of a wider strategy to realise the benefits of cloud accounting, which delivers real time data and enables businesses to monitor performance and drive improvement much more effectively.

 From L - R: Lynne Walker, Katie Whyte, Emily Young, Ewan Bolt, Richard Davison, Ben Smith, Julia Reid and Scott McInnes

To support its drive, the firm created new leadership roles with Ewan Bolt, director in Johnston Carmichael’s Inverness office, becoming Head of Digital Solutions, in 2018. Meanwhile, Lynne Walker, partner in the Elgin office, was promoted to Head of Business Advisory, which incorporates Digital Solutions, to steer the expansion of digital expertise in the business advisory team.

In addition to boosting its people resource and skillset, Johnston Carmichael has also developed its technical capacity. The firm recently launched a bespoke online App Hub, thought to be the first of its kind in the industry, to help clients search for apps that will enhance their Xero software and address their needs as a business. There are more than 800 apps that are compatible with the Xero software, all offering enhanced insight into their business performance or easing the process of reporting.

Winning Large Firm at the Xero Awards is highly significant for us. The awards are the pinnacle of the cloud accounting sector so to be recognised by them is a major achievement

Ewan Bolt

Head of Digital Solutions

Ewan Bolt, Head of Digital Solutions at Johnston Carmichael, said: "Winning Large Firm at the Xero Awards is highly significant for us. The awards are the pinnacle of the cloud accounting sector so to be recognised by them is a major achievement.

it is also an important acknowledgement of the journey we have been on as a business to grow our digital expertise and deliver the best possible service for our clients.

“Previously the level of data analytics delivered by cloud accounting was only available to big businesses with big budgets. Now organisations of all sizes can benefit from transparent and real time insight and our experience is that once businesses have converted onto digital platforms, there is a strong appetite to utilise the available data and create even greater insight.

“Importantly, the information delivered by cloud accounting also allows us as advisors to engage early with clients and offer pro-active real time business advice designed to improve their results.”

Glen Foster, Director of Accounting Partners at Xero, commented: “The Xero Awards are a great opportunity to recognise the achievements of our accounting and app partners, and shine a light on the work they are doing to support small businesses. They are at the forefront of change, helping SMEs transform the way they do business.”

To support businesses and help them maximise the benefits delivered by their digital platforms, Johnston Carmichael is set to offer a series of Xero events with app partners, across Scotland this year.