Editor at large AccountingWEB
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Barbican is buzzing with Practice Excellence

24th Sep 2015
Editor at large AccountingWEB
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A compendium of things seen and heard by AccountingWEB's editorial team at today's Practice Excellence Conference in London.

This week seems to be practice development week, with events all around the country.

While AVN is running a two-day event in Birmingham and our advertising partners at ICPA are hosting their annual get-together in Daventry today, AccountingWEB decamped to London today for our own Practice Management Conference.

The coincidence was more by accident than design, as all of the organisers share a commitment to encouraging accountants to improve. In spite of the distractions, the Practice Excellence Conference attracted a full house to hear Chas Howes recount his experiences as CFO of Super Dry and Heather  Towsend offer her formula for practice success.

We had a complaint from Sarah Douglas in Scotland that everyone there is getting ready for a long weekend, we’ll try to find another date in the calendar (and liaise with other conference organisers) next  year.

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Accountant offers a simple answer

Overheard at Practice Excellence 2015: "What is business advisory?"

Reply from an accountant in the audience: "Not compliance". 

Proof, if we ever needed it, that accountants are as pragmatic as ever.

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Karen Reyburn's artistic notes

Karen Reyburn of the profitable firm was showing off her artistic skills on Twitter. Karen uses sketch notes, technically known as visual note taking, to capture live events.

Check it out:


More good bits from @ChasHowes at #PEP15 pic.twitter.com/725k3lTuhh

— Karen Reyburn (@karenlreyburn) September 24, 2015


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The future’s so cool, I gotta get Snapchat

Receipt Bank founder and chief technology officer Michael Wood was chock full of mind-twisting predictions during a panel discussion about the future. The scenarios he sketched out included:

  • Trends in Australia suggest that as technology allows firms to streamline basic accounting processes, we will see the emergence of compliance factories serving thousands, if not tens of thousands of clients. The alternatives open to practitioners will be to “verticalise” or do more advisory work.
  • Communication technology isn’t eliminating personal attention and client care. It offers more ways to interact. But, Wood continued, “What we are seeing is the fragmentation of personal attention. Instead of meeting face to face once a year, it’ll be a 5min phone call here and a 15min Skype catch-up there.”
  • HMRC’s move into the cloud with its new API strategy is setting the tax department on a course for monthly tax reporting and collection, Woods predicted. “There are some very obvious advantages… and tax authorities around the world are watching to see what happens.”
  • Banks, too, will have to have open programming interfaces in place by 2017, Woods said. This means that almost anyone can connect into their feeds, opening  the door to the possibility of a Facebook Bank, or even the Snapchat Bank for Teenagers. How do you account for that??

* * *

"Is that Slough?"

Super Group HQ, Cheltenham

One of the best talks of the day came right at the start, from the former CFO of SuperDry Chas Howes.

Howes chronicled the story of Super Dry's meteoric rise, a really inspiring tale. During his talk, he showed a picture of the £400m-turnover group's humble HQ, a non-descript brown brick building on a classic 1980s industrial estate (above). It drew one of the best heckles of the day: "Is that Slough?".

Citizens of Super Group's home town of Cheltenham will no doubt be outraged by such a slur.


Paul Dunn’s acceptance speech

Paul Dunn received the inaugural Practice Excellence Outstanding Contribution to Accounting Award. Dunn opened his acceptance speech in disbelief by saying ‘sometimes you have to pinch yourself to see if it really is happening’.

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