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A shot of the Luca Awards

The power of bookkeepers: Reflections on ICB’s annual summit


Joanne Birtwistle attended the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers summit last week and reports on the news and inspiring stories heard from the show floor. 

13th Nov 2023
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At AccountingWEB, the bookkeeping community is one I feel most connected to and despite having hosted the bookkeeping show with Jo Wood and Zoe Whitman for 13 episodes, there is always more to learn and discover. 

So last week, I attended the annual bookkeeper ICB’s summit at the Westminster Park Plaza in London. It was my first time at this event, and it was great to network, gain insights and strengthen my connections with the bookkeeping community.

Sharing inspiration stories

The ICB’s membership is 78% female and this helped to give the summit a tone and atmosphere distinct from any other accounting event or indeed business events I have attended before. The sense of community, togetherness and collaboration was refreshing and real and the stories shared were inspiring. 

Take Lara Manton, who shared an unusual tale of scope creep that demonstrated how being there for clients can sometimes lead to unexpected opportunities. 

Lara began a project for a longstanding client who produces corporate videos... and ended up managing the entire budget, payments and payroll for the 10th anniversary of Top Chef, the US version of MasterChef. It sounded like a rollercoaster ride – albeit one where she says if she did do it again, it would be at an increased hourly rate!

ICB opposes single AML regulator

There were also practical sessions – Garry Carter, co-founder and head of compliance, gave members an update on the proposed reform of the anti-money laundering (AML) supervisory system – along with what the changes would mean for the ICB as a supervisory body.

The Treasury is looking at four potential models to beef up AML supervision, ranging from the creation of a new single AML regulator to single regulators for the accountancy and legal sectors or strengthening the supervisor of supervisors: the Office of Professional Body Anti-money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS). 

If the Treasury chooses the single new regulator model, professional bodies and HMRC will be stripped of their AML supervisory powers. Carter said that the ICB sees OPBAS Plus as the best option – with the body continuing its work on the assumption it will “remain as we are” in the meantime, with a decision expected in the second quarter of 2024.

This view falls in line with a number of professional bodies, including ACCA, ICAS and the ICAEW, which have publicly backed the proposal to enhance the powers of OPBAS, saying this approach would carry the least cost and disruption. 

The Oscars of bookkeeping

After the summit there was a quick changing into formal attire before reconvening for the annual LUCA awards. It was a memorable and uplifting night, clearly showcasing the supportive nature of the bookkeeping community, which concluded with a poignant moment as our own John Stokdyk was posthumously honoured with the Michael Kintore Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Profession Award. I collected the award, along with our events director Mike Goldsmith from ICB’s chief executive Ami Copeland (below).  

I’d like to thank Ami for recognising John at the Awards – it meant a lot to the whole team.

A photo of Joanne Birtwistle and Mike Goldsmith collecting the outstanding contribution award

Outside of the conference hall in the exhibitor space, our chief executive Tom Dunkerley and Mike Goldsmith, were making noise about our upcoming Festival of Bookkeepers and Accountants (FAB) on 13-14 March at the NEC in Birmingham.

We are a mainstream event that finally recognises the bookkeeping community and we are proud to be working with the ICB on a dedicated area at the event that is all about bookkeepers – the bookkeepers retreat.

This festival aims to celebrate and acknowledge the vital role bookkeepers play in businesses, enhancing their clients’ bottom lines. We want to ensure that FAB truly reflects the wants and needs of bookkeepers. That’s why we need your active engagement and input. We want to hear directly from you, the bookkeeping community, about what you would like to see at FAB.

Finally, mark your calendars for the final bookkeeping show of the year on the 29 November. We will be discussing strategies to navigate the upcoming self-assessment season – come armed with your questions. Remember that all previous bookkeeping shows are available on demand, and I am always open to your comments and suggestions on how we can better serve this fantastic community and ensure that you feel at home with AccountingWEB.


Replies (3)

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Sarah Douglas - HouseTree Business Ltd
By sarah douglas
13th Nov 2023 16:52

Lovely article and ICB summit is always great, with the Luca awards. Always and very supportive event. Congratulations to all the winners snd John is greatly missed.

In regard to the new event. I would love to hear more from other businesses that are not accountancy, what they want from us and how we can improve our services to help them succeed. We could also learn a lot from other businesses and industries.

We might not like what we hear but there is a bit too much patting each other on the back at the moment and I want a challenge.

Most accounting summits are just accountancy people meeting accountancy people, which has become for me a bit stale. I love meeting my accountancy pals but I want more.

I would love to see something more like The CAN DO Summit held in Glasgow science centre for the accountancy world.

Less talking about how great someones practice is and far more detailed indepth learning about tech that would actually help your practice.

One of my most favourite talks and inspiring talks was the Head of Lego and USA airport control talking about AI

The accountancy world needs to invite other businesses in. The conference circuit for accountancy has become very insular and almost closed to the outside world of business.

I appreciate many might not agree with me, but those changes would make me consider going to a new event.

please excuse any typos , wrote this on the phone .

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Replying to sarah douglas:
Mike Goldsmith
By Mike Goldsmith
15th Nov 2023 11:30

Good to chat with you about this at the LUCAs, Sarah and thanks for the kind words about John. We're trying to blend the twin needs for education and networking at Festival of Accounting & Bookkeeping next March while also delivering something sensitive to the needs of those coming out of a tough tax season. Keep an eye on as we reveal our plans from w/c 27/11.

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Mark Lee headshot 2023
By Mark Lee
14th Nov 2023 18:14

Thank you for this fabulous summary and report of a wonderful event Jo. I attended the full day last year and stayed for dinner but this year could only make the awards dinner. It was all so well arranged and an absolute delight. I too shared a tear when the posthumous award for John was announced.

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