For the third year in a row, I attended the UK200 Group conference - this time in Cardiff, writes community editor Rachael Power.
Each year I attend the conference, the more insight I get into the world of accountancy. True, the UK200 Group doesn't represent all UK firms, but with 150 UK members and many more internationally through its alliance with IAPA, it paints a picture of the changes that have happened in such a short space of time within the profession.
One element of this, is that this year the group has had a change in brand and 'messaging'. Its new, snappier tagline 'building better together' and slick branding and website isn't officially launched until April 2015, but is on trend with what a lot of other solo accountancy firms are doing.
At every conference, a snapshot of the general consensus among member firms is presented, after being captured via a survey beforehand. Some interesting facts cropped up here, including what software they are most using (IRIS), total fees of combined firms (£143m) and the fact that training costs were increasing among firms significantly.
This years' speaker sessions were, as in previous years, informative and well-attended. Included in the line up were Justin Urquhart-Stewart, who gave an economic update, Simon Blake, who had news on the corporate finance side regarding acquisitions and Todd Brown, who spoke about the importance of Getting Stuff Done.
But the messages in each session were a lot different than in previous years.
Economically, the tables had turned and it was now Germany facing recession (it hasn't, but it came dangerously close). In acquisitions, banks were now lending again and clients were beginning to come out of the woodwork with growth plans.
And in discussion groups, the group as a whole were focused on marketing and bringing more weight to the UK200 Group name.
Not just in the UK, either. UK200 Group's delegates this year included attendees from Italy, the US and The Netherlands.
Indeed, international contacts were made with people as far away as Fiji - well, that was, the international rugby team was sharing the hotel ahead of its clash against Wales last weekend.
During the gala dinner, at which guests mingled and let their hair down after a day spent learning and listening, a special guest and after-dinner speaker sat among us.
Gerald Ratner, famous for the speech that led to the demise of his jewelry business and wrote £500m off the value, appeared to tell his tale on stage.
After owing £1bn to the banks and spending seven years in bed watching countdown, the self-depreciating businessman picked himself back up (with a little help from his wife) and forced his way back out there into the market.
This demonstrated to I as much as the accountants sitting around me, that no matter how huge the mistake you make and how much the media hounds you afterward, with a bit of resilience, the right attitude, (and maybe a couple of years in your pyjamas), you can always make a comeback.
One origami plane-flying competition to raise money for charity later, complete with large runway and very skilled designs - aside from mine, I may stick to journalism - and the night came to an end.
Next year certainly seems to be shaping up to be a good one for the UK200 Group and its members - and for all accountants. The changes that have happened over the last two, since I've been at AccountingWEB and attending these conferences, are apparent. But where will they lead? Find out in next year's blog.