Accountex 2019 Portfolio Director Zoe Lacey-Cooper Discusses it's continuing Success

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We recently visited Diversified’s Zoe Lacey-Cooper as she was putting the final touches to this year’s Accountex conference

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Be you tech savy, cautious or curious, there is only one place to be in early May – at Accountex at London’s ExCel.

Last year’s two-day event attracted nigh on 8,000 visitors and 250 exhibiting companies. There were also over 200 inspiring seminar sessions, too.

Diversified took over the UK’s largest exhibition and conference dedicated to the accountancy profession three years ago, and since then visitor number have increased by a whopping 45%.

Portfolio director Zoe Lacey-Cooper (pictured) has been a driving force behind this success. When she arrived she felt the seminar side of the conference needed a bit of a shake-up and looked to ICPA’s Tony Margaritelli and others, like Steve Pipe and Mark Lee, for help.

It had been the common practice at other conferences to allow exhibitors to hog the seminar spotlight, but Lacey-Cooper wanted to ensure the seminar programme was totally focused on what accountants need. That means everyone now has to put in a submission about what they plan to speak about, and this gets the thumbs-up or down from a steering group of experts.

Accountex is also trying to ensure visitors get more from their visit this year. She explained: “We understand everyone is at different stage in their tech journey and we can now ensure a tailored visit that works for them.” So when you sign up there will be more guidance on the seminars and stands you might want to look at.

It was during a post-Accountex advisory board meeting that Tony Margaritelli gave Diversifed another gentle nudge in the right direction with his concept of an ‘Accountants in Practice’ theatre. Lacey-Cooper explained the theatre proved so popular she has actually had to reduce the number of theatres this year – but make the ones left bigger, and she’s invested in better AV, too. Anyone who has been before knows that it is often standing room only at some of these seminars, with delegates blocking the walkways as they try to hear what’s being said.

Another initiative ICPA helped launch last year was the sole practitioners round-table discussions. This is where up to 12 people get around the table to network and talk about what they need – it’s like a self-help group.

Lacey-Cooper is certainly not ready to rest on her laurels. Accountex Summit North is a prime example of this. The Manchester, slightly smaller but perfectly formed sister conference and expo, returns for its second year at Manchester Central on 10 September 2019.

Lacey-Cooper started her exhibiting career with a Scandinavian organic food and natural product show. Accountancy might have been a big jump, but she says she has been genuinely shocked at how supportive the accountancy profession has been. She said: “It’s something I have never experienced before, and I have made some genuine friendships.”

But there is something she is struggling with – finding someone to chair the post-Brexit panel discussion. Anyone up for that?

• Accountex takes place on Wednesday 1 May and Thursday 2 May, at Excel in London. To sign up for your free delegate pass go to www.accountex.co.uk. To join the conversion follow on twitter @Accountex  #Accountex