Xero has appointed former banking executive Susan Peterson to its board as the accounting software developer beefs up its skillset while delving deeper into the broader financial services.

Former Australia & New Zealand Banking Group executive Peterson will join Wellington-based as an independent director effective today, Xero said in a statement. Chief executive and founder Rod Drury says he has always been impressed by Peterson's work, but her recent director roles with failed intelligence software developer Wynyard Group and cinema software firm Vista Group added a new dimension to her skills.

Peterson discussed her time at Wynyard with Xero's board, and Drury said he was "comfortable with her role" and that it gave her "really good experience" in a situation that many people haven't gone through.

He said Peterson's financial services background and experience in New Zealand and Australia will be an asset to the board, and will also provide good support to Xero's executives via the company's mentoring system.


The new appointment follows former chairman Chris Liddell's departure last month to take a top job in US President Donald Trump's administration, and at a time when Xero is looking to become more closely integrated with the broader financial services system.

Last week, Xero signed a new deal with Silicon Valley Bank to deepen its relationship with the California lender, enabling information sharing to help speed up small and medium size businesses' ability to access capital.

Chief operating and financial officer Sankar Narayan describes that deal as another step to developing Xero's role in facilitating transactions between SMEs and financial institutions, with capital constraints affecting more than half of small businesses.

Xero's role is becoming more embedded in the broader financial web, with Heartland Bank this week taking a 25 per cent stake in Wellington-based Fuelled and providing the online SME lending platform a $2 million credit line. Fuelled is closely integrated with Xero, while Heartland is looking to beef up its use of digital lending channels.

Xero is still looking for another director, and Drury said they will probably be looking for someone in the Northern Hemisphere.

The shares were unchanged at $18.95, and have gained 29 per cent over the past 12 months.