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Meet the AccountingWEB Live Expo curators: Alastair Barlow

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Shining a spotlight on flinder’s co-founder and CEO, Will Cole chats with Alastair Barlow on the topics of growth and the benefits of being at this year’s AccountingWEB Live Expo. 

21st Nov 2022
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Taking on the mantle of strategy and growth content stream curator at this year’s AccountingWEB Live Expo, Alastair Barlow brings a wealth of experience in growing successful businesses to this year’s event. 

As an Accounting Excellence multi-award winner, the co-founder of flinder will pull back the curtain on what made his firm a success at AccountingWEB Live Expo and provide other practice leaders with tips and advice in scaling their firms.   

Alastair is an accountant, speaker, judge and adviser to industry forums, as well as one of the driving forces behind the success of flinder, a pioneer of smart finance functions to accelerate the growth of tech, SaaS and e-commerce businesses.

What are the challenges currently facing the profession?

Of course, there’s a lot of turbulence stemming from the economy at the moment. But if you go back to accounting and consider what it is that’s actually challenging firms in 2022, in many ways it’s the same as it’s always been.

Clients always have questions and challenges for their accountants; staff numbers and capacity are still an issue; the relentless focus on value for clients can cause problems for firms. And while these have always been challenges, they’re magnified by the current state of the economy and the talent shortages and increasing interest rates that have followed.

How does AccountingWEB Live Expo answer these challenges?

Every challenge presents an opportunity. And, the fact that we have these pillars of content that cover a wide range of topics means there's a greater thread of insight to tackle these issues than perhaps we may have seen in other places and events. Sometimes it feels that other expos of the past have topics and themes that are simply thrown together. 

I think the AccountingWEB Live Expo team has created an amazing insight journey for accountants this year. We’re covering everything from people to technology to strategy and growth; it gives practitioners the chance to turn that challenge affecting them into a real opportunity.

Personally, which session are you looking forward to the most at this year’s Live Expo?

This would be like asking a parent if they had a favourite child! I think the depths we are going to in the strategy and growth stream, not just with the topics but of the calibre speakers as well, offers a really high level of quality all-round.

In terms of what we have on offer for growth and strategy, we're asking questions like ‘how can I grow by focusing on a particular sector?’ and ‘How can I grow by acquiring a business?’ I’m also going to be talking with Paula Benoit of Xeinadin on the role of the COO and why is this all the rage. So I can’t pick one in particular, but I think the insights we’re offering are really powerful for the growth-minded accountant.

What excites you about the future of the profession? Looking into next year and beyond?

To start with there is an increasing amount of activity around M&A in the sector. I think it’s going to be really interesting to see how that goes and to see if aggregators can actually get value from the synergies that they are expecting.

I also think that it’s going to be really interesting watching how firms consider broadening and deepening what they sell to their clients over the next few years. We’re actually doing a ‘pitch-off’ with four different accountants pitching services that aren’t traditionally offered by practitioners but allow for a deepening of the relationship  and a significant increase in the lifetime value of a client.

My final prediction revolves around data analytics, and how the service will be the future of accounting. It’s really fascinating to me  and could really change the face of the profession in the coming years.

Why should people make the trip up to Coventry for AccountingWEB Live Expo this year?

I think anyone who’s serious about their business needs to be there because there's going to be a huge amount of networking as well as a reams of educational content that will really challenge yourself and your own status-quo. 

We're in our businesses each and every day and, if you don't get to AccountingWEB Live Expo in December, you're not pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. You're not seeing what others are doing and you're not challenging yourself enough. For me, if you’re serious about your business: get to Coventry.

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