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Accountex speaker sessions show 2017's big themes

27th Apr 2017
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Accountex has certainly cemented itself into the scene successfully over the last few years, and the line ups often provides a useful mirror on the profession. Richard Sergeant explains his take on some of the top themes for this year, and who has caught his eye.

MTD is implied everywhere, but those doing the talking standout

Unsurprisingly there is much on offer when it comes to this, although perhaps not as much as you might expect. You’d be hard pushed to find a session that won’t reference Making Tax Digital (MTD) in some way; however, for pure MTD pleasure there isn’t much to chose from, but the quality is good.

From vendors, my front two are Steve Checkley’s ‘Making Tax Digital – What Every Practitioner Needs to Know’, which promises to reprise a good session from last year, and the well respected and pragmatic Mark Purdue’s ‘MTD - countdown to go live’. If you haven’t had your fill by then, Paul Aplin’s 'MTD in practice – Where we were, where we are and where we are heading’ brings some well-respected practice insight.

Given the timetable in play, I suspect we’ll be seeing much more of this in 2018.

Cloud connected services are becoming more real

From the looks of things the battle to convince practices about why they should be looking at cloud has been fought (hey, I didn’t say it had been won!), and is moving towards what else it could be delivering.  

There’s a nice ring to 'Open banking, what it will mean for the accounting profession' led by Kevin McCallum, which I don’t think should be dismissed easily. The banking sector is being transformed by new standards and technology, and the link between it and the accounting software industry means a whole new raft of services on the horizon. 'Alternative finance and co-financing opportunities' with Kevin Vendell seems to be a good example of this, and perhaps pair these with 'Cybersecurity” delivered by Barclays, Graeme Brand - just to be sure.

For those that are already on their way to the cloud, the ‘what next’ doesn’t necessarily have to mean advisory; there is plenty of scope for new and connected services.

Marketing moves over for practicalities

What does stand out is how little sales and marketing features this year. There are of course pockets of good quality, and  Karen Reyburn’s 'The trap of marketing ‘advisory services’: why it isn’t working and how to fix it” stands out, as does Martin Bisset’s 'Building the pipeline', but compared to previous years there is much less on view.

Given the need of pressing practical matters with MTD, perhaps this is no surprise.

Never mind the robots, here’s more practice automation

But queen of topics this year, and perhaps one of the hottest tech areas of 2017, is practice automation.

Most of the big guns are represented. However, one to attend should be Alan Laing’s ‘Digital World’ if only because out of all the vendors with a huge PR battle still to win, it’s Sage, coming from so far behind as they have. Do they have enough to win back the practice community?

Brendan Woods talking on ‘Automated accounting: work smarter not harder’ promises much, and I hope to see a very practical and pragmatic view, especially as I suspect there will be a proliferation of data sources coming into practices over the next couple of years.

'Automation? Quicker, but does robotics mean Daleks?', delivered by Jessica Pillow, grabs my attention too. OK, there’s a product link here to one of the growing number of interesting cloud based practice management systems, however the point of trying to build in and build out useful connections to help the flow and handling of data has never been so much in focus thanks to HMRC’s digital agenda. Doing it, while retaining and building valued client services I think is a message we’ll be hearing a lot about. As the substitute to the “compliance bad, advisory good” chant, it’s not a bad one either.

What does this all tell us? Well for sure there is more innovation being talked about, but it’s hard to escape that the focus is very much on the here and now. 2017 seems to be about the vendor community laying down assurance that whatever MTD brings, your future is safe with them; and confidence could be worth everything.


Replies (8)

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Good looking older guy with the biggest smile.  The 15 Minute Guy
By Ashley Leeds
28th Apr 2017 11:41

Brilliant article Richard. I guess Accountex will be a hive of energy this year!

Thanks (1)
Replying to Ashley Leeds:
By Zoe Lacey
28th Apr 2017 13:10

Great article Richard, as the organisers of Accountex we have spent 12 months talking and listening to the industry to put on a more focused programme this year. We have also created a steering committee to manage the speaker submissions to make sure that the right topics are being covered.

We will most definitely look to feature more on sales and marketing next year.

We hope that visitors enjoy the new look Accountex, let us know your thoughts!

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Replying to Zoe Lacey:
Richard Sergeant
By Richard Sergeant
30th Apr 2017 09:40

I think it's better with less sales and marketing this year. There was little original material doing the rounds. It's better on paper for exploring a mix of topics.

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Replying to Zoe Lacey:
Glenn Martin
By Glenn Martin
03rd May 2017 11:12

Don't take the lack of marketing and sales people as a negative, we get plenty of of contact day in day out with firms that specialize in marketing for accountants.

Anyone wanting to use these services will have signed up to them by now, and TBH they are all a bit last year.

With MTD around the corner there are far more important things to think about so they are not a big miss.

I am looking forward to this years event as suspect it could be best yet.

Thanks (1)
By carnmores
28th Apr 2017 17:32

brilliant is stretching it somewhat

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Replying to carnmores:
Richard Sergeant
By Richard Sergeant
30th Apr 2017 09:44

Agreed. Always a work in progress, Carnmores, always a work in progress.

Thanks (2)
By Neophyte
03rd May 2017 15:59

Already being bothered by the MyFirmsApp people and there incessant emailing for me to reserve a seat. Anybody else find them a little bit over the top? Apart from that really excited about this years Accountex - bring it on!

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Replying to Neophyte:
By carnmores
03rd May 2017 17:07

some of these firms are so bloody stupid , they keep hassling potential clients which is counter productive , its probably because their employees are on commision or similar tell the to go away .....

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