Accountex 2017: The return
I just jumped on a packed train to head back "Up North" after a few days in the smoke. As can be seen above, the view from my Docklands apartment was very much a work in progress.
Accountex was pretty heavy going and I accounts production and tax software on my shopping list. I had expected MTD to dominate the show, which it did, however a bit of the fizz was quashed by the last minute withdrawal of some speakers because of the election. The delay also put a bit of a dampener on some product launches.
Back to my quest for accounting suite software, I feel I need to go mid-range for where I am now and with software that will not penalise me as I add client numbers. BTC and TaxCalc were on my shortlist and they both look to be very good proucts:easy to use, reasonably priced and not overly fussy. The are just what you need as a small-time accountant, offering a slick end-to-end process, and built with the small practioner in mind.
BTC has a two-way link with Xero, which is a bonus and something really only the big lads have managed to do so far. TaxCalc also has an option called Connect where your data sits in the cloud but you work on it with a full application on your desktop and data is saved back to the cloud. This could be a winner. From what I have seen so far of the full cloud practice suites, they are very much lite versions of what you need, with many features stripped back and not really robust enough.
I use Brightpay, which works in the same way as TaxCalc Connect, with data stored on cloud and accessed from anywhere. It is spot on and offers the best of both worlds.
I will be testing both TaxCalc and BTC in next few weeks so I can get cracking with it. I also keep coming back to Taxfiler, but feel there must be a catch with the pricing.
Taxcalc look to be head and shoulders above everybody including the big boys on MTD, with a product fully ready - subject to a final spec from HMRC. It looks good and anyone scratching their heads about MTD should download the demo.
Speaker-wise I am not too much of a fan of the accounting guru types, but the usual suspects were all there. I did catch one Paul Shrimplings on gearing up for MTD. I think Shripmers is the best of the bunch - he is very energetic and presents well.
He sort of confirmed I am where I need to be for MTD although a few others there seem to be somewhat further back on the whole journey. There was distinct lack of the marketing firms now as things seem to have moved on beyond that state. It' so last year.
What is also of note was in previous years the Sage stand towered above everyone else. Now they are on an equal footing with Xero, Exact and TaxCalc in the "how big is your stand?" stakes. Are they losing the battle against the new breed of more agile firms?
As a Xero convert these days I dropped in on the demos a few times. Ashley Driver and Paul Bulpitt from Wow Company must drink a stronger coffee than me as I have never seen people "on it" like them. I use Xero everyday but watching the shortcuts these lads come up with are great and certainly worth the time to attend a demo.
Xero really is a mature product now and the refinement these guys are bringing to it, is what sets it apart from the chasing pack. The few quid a month more it costs is saved ten times over with the time-saving features built in now.
I do like some of the smaller stands, things like Capitalise and Iwoca caught the eye for quick finance decisions and working capital finance - something which all clients struggle with. These online finance options could be a good addition to core accounting services. These could provide some secondary income outside of accounts fees and worth exploring.
I also bumped into quite of few of my expanding circle of accounting friends. I do enjoy the meet-up afterwards, the AWEB lads are also good crack, although they seemed to be rushed off their feet for the full two days.
It was a great couple of days out of the office, leaving me with loads to when I get back before the weekend. I do enjoy Accountex.
Best stand: Exact - the F1 hook-up kills it, along with their industrial strength coffee and pancakes.
Best merch: My natty blue tooth headpiece from BTC.
Will I be back next year - Aye. But two questions for my southern-based friends.
1. Why is the water that comes out the taps in London warm? In north east its comes so cold you could cryogenically store things. But at least its refreshing on a warm day.
2. Who in the history of mankind got up and did anything good on the back of a continental breakfast? Why do hotels not do the full English, the breakfast of a champion?