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Award winner

The 2016 community award winners are...

21st Dec 2016
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At this time of year on AccountingWEB we like to celebrate the members and accountancy firms who have enriched the profession with much-needed insight and wit during the past 12 months. And this year, we surely needed it.

First off, it would be remiss to ignore AccountingWEB’s migration to a new platform, which attracted as many comments as Brexit and Making Tax Digital. Whilst the new look may not be everyone’s cup of tea, its soul is still the same: the site remains an open platform for accountants to discuss and debate a broad variety of topics. And there was plenty to discuss this year.

For this year’s Community Awards we are also doing things a little differently. The old (somewhat laborious) tool for counting thanks no longer exists. And since there are so many members who merit celebration as potential members of the year, we decided it was best to retire that occasionally controversial category.

We still think there is plenty to celebrate among the quirky threads, blogs, technology discussions, video productions and professional personalities who showed up on the site this year. In the festive spirit, we have assembled our suggestions for community recognition in 2016. Let us know if you think we have missed any other individuals or categories that enlivened your year on AccountingWEB.

* * *

Quirkiest thread of the year: Violin puns struck a chord with members

Quirkiest thread

Making Tax Digital and the EU referendum vote dominated most of the conversation on AccountingWEB. Accountants debated each subject extensively and pored over the small print. The post-EU referendum article, for example, almost reached 200 comments, with impassioned arguments shooting back and forth from either side of the divide.  

But accountants also turned to Any Answers for solace. AccountingWEB member Monsoon used Any Answers for a career-based pep talk. “How does one find one's work mojo again?,” she asked. “I think I chucked mine out with a dirty nappy…”

The AccountingWEB members rallied around Monsoon with advice and support. Appreciating the help, she later added: “My business was my baby and I never imagined me selling it, ever. Then I got a human baby...!”

In other corners of the community, Constantly Confused dished out his “Swiss Toni” award-winning humour across Any Answers. He crowdsourced security ideas to protect his shed and lambasted the brightness of full beam car lights.    

But the winner has to be the pun-tastic capital gains liability thread. In November, a question on violins struck a - ahem - chord with some AccountingWEB members. A sensible query you’d think. But once Business editor Tom Herbert enquired whether the client was “trying to fiddle his taxes” the thread swiftly mutated into a highly strung pun-off.

Tax whizz Portia Nina Levin set the tempo with: “Personally, I would just pluck a figure out of the air” and the AccountingWEB community responded with a crescendo of equally dubious puns. Abacus Finch, for example, said: “Complex tax rules can be avoided through clever orchestration, although many arrangements can leave some grapelli-ng to cope.

* * *

AccountingWEB Tech champion: Glennzy

Tech champion

Cloud accounting has infiltrated the mainstream this year, partly driven by the demands of the looming Making Tax Digital rollout. AccountingWEB regular Glennzy has been on hand to guide cloud rookies and offer his advice on cloud bookkeeping software.

Glennzy brought back scoops from Accountex and the Xero roadshow, but it was the comprehensive guide to his cloud journey which garnered the most interest. Appearing on the AccountingWEB podcast, he also explained his current tech processes and future predictions.

Special mention, though, has to be given to fellow Geordie tech pioneers, BluSky. The North Shields firm enthused on AccountingWEB about their tech adoption, spurred on after a family friend dismissed accountants as merely “historians”. Defending the profession, the firm embraced tech to look forward, rather than backwards.

* * *

Video of the year: Cassons

Video of the year

2016 was the year of the video. In an interview at Accountexack back in May Karen Reyburn urged firms to develop their own marketing plans, not stay within the confines of what’s the done thing within the profession.

This year Practice Excellence nominees did just that. In particular, some firms focused on videos and webinars as a new way to engage with clients. For example, Raffingers, which picked up the Medium Practice of the Year award, overhauled its website to provide a more interactive experience; and videos were one of the key the features in the switch.

Raffingers wasn’t the only one. Fellow medium practice A4G started to produce webinars with half the attendees being potential new clients. The reason why these firms invested in this rich media was always the same: accessibility.

No firm’s videos were more accessible than Mazuma’s effort. Inspired more by Peter Serafinowicz than another accountancy firm, Mazuma’s video parody of a Blue Peter-type children’s show had it all: awkward, prolonged stares at the camera, intruding boom mikes, surreal humour, and a visit to the lawnmower museum.

As more emphasis is focused on social media, it’s hardly surprising to see more efforts to engage with clients this way. Reyburn advised firms to “be different and stand out” if they wanted to revise their marketing plans. When thousands of messages flicker through our Twitter timelines, videos provide a longer, more fulfilling experience compared to short tweets that drift off into a Twitter chamber of silence.

But video has not just been used as a brand awareness tool. The technique is also being used for client communication and support.

Kevin Whitehouse, a Practice Excellence Tech Champion nominee for Prime Entry and genuine enthusiast, took the time to teach himself video production. With these new skills, Whitehouse recorded bookkeeping tutorials, training, compliance work presentations and personalised videos for clients to review at their own convenience. Again, all of this helps both the client and the firm; helping businesses to grow and the reducing the back-and-forth communications burden on the firm.

AccountingWEB also took the plunge into these waters with Practice Excellence Live in October. What had been a one day physical conference became a week-long, live video event that members could attend from the comfort of their office or home.

An acknowledged pioneer of video marketing within the profession is Cassons. The North- West firm has become the John Lewis of accountancy firms when it comes to festive videos. Since the impending digital tax changes dominated most discussion this year, it was only right Cassons should respond to the theme in this year’s effort, which also celebrates the late, great David Bowie and one of his landmark songs.

* * *

Blogger of the year: Feeling the strain

Blogger of the year

This year AccountingWEB has seen a few new bloggers join the familiar roll call. The ICAEW’s IT Faculty technical manager David Lyford-Smith brings his spreadsheet knowledge and sprinkling the occasional spreadsheet tip of the month to the blogs.

With Making Tax Digital presenting a very real threat to spreadsheet bookkeeping, Lyford-Smith reminded us all there is still life in the old dog yet. His relentless passion for raising awareness of good spreadsheet practice should be commended.

Charity-based questions and concerns have been dripping onto Any Answers for some time. To answer these, charity expert and Practice Excellence nominee Jen Gerrard has joined the ranks to shed more light on this occasionally overlooked specialism.

Meanwhile, regular favourites continue to entertain us with the latest comings and goings from their practice. FirstTab and Glennzy both kept us up-to-date with their practice growth plans. We look forward to read how these plans develop in the new year. And Mum and an Accountant, last year’s blogger of the year, continues to juggle the twin demands of motherhood and accountancy.

This year has not been short of surprises. Brexit and Trump inspired our regular bloggers Philip Fisher, the Flying Scotsman and Simon Sweetman to excoriate or support each event with equal column inches.

However, this year the award goes to a new blogger: Feelingthestrain. This member put pen to paper a couple of months ago; compelled to confront the pressures and stresses of being an accountant. Since then, Feelingthestrain has offered practical advice dealing with Making Tax Digital and tech advances.

Welcome aboard. We hope to see more blogs - if a little less strain - from this member in 2017.

* * *

Born Dull?! Personality of the Year: Accountancy’s Olympians

Born Dull

Accountants know a thing or two about chasing; most of the time this involves chasing clients for information. This summer, however, several accountants chased Olympic glory.  

The profession may have failed to match the participation levels seen in London, but accountants still had reason to celebrate in Rio. Former EY accountant Gwen Jorgensen rebounded from her 2012 disappointment to take triathlon gold. Always one for a challenge - especially tax puzzles - Jorgensen raced ahead of her competitors early on; then plunged into the 1500km Copacabana open water, before cycling to victory in 1hr 56mins.  

Joining her on the medal podium, New Zealand’s Mahe Drysdale, who chose rowing over his accountancy career, retained gold.

Although we applaud this achievement, we believe a more prestigious award deserves to be bestowed to these athletes. Yes, more prestigious than Olympic gold. So this year we are awarding the Born Dull?! Award to the Rio accountants.

Honourable mention this year, though, should go to cleft-chinned thesp Ben Affleck. In November, the actor who previously donned Batman’s cowl brought a loose - very loose - version of the profession to the silver screen.

We question whether accountants can pick up any professional tips from Affleck’s shotgun-toting antics. But AccountingWEB member DJKL did take some practical lessons from the film. “A shotgun does tend to keep one's fee arrears on the lower end of the scale and of course annual fee increases are usually accepted by clients without a great deal of protracted discussion,” they reported.

Since Affleck shows an aptitude towards bone crunching rather than number crunching, he’s not eligible for this award.

* * *

Our congratulations to all of those who feature in these awards, and thanks to everyone who took part as commenters and contributors to the threads that make AccountingWEB what it is. If you would like to nominate anyone for these or any other award of your choosing, feel free to nominate them by commenting below. Happy Christmas!


Replies (16)

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By stepurhan
21st Dec 2016 09:57

"Whilst the new look may not be everyone’s cup of tea, its soul is still the same:"

If you really think that, you obviously don't frequent Any Answers much.

I also cannot help noticing that there has been no voting on the "community" awards this year. Not very "community" if the "community" is not awarding them is it.

Thanks (4)
By stepurhan
21st Dec 2016 10:58

Thread of the year nominations.

Even 7 months later, they are still the top 3 most liked. Surely candidates for the award on that basis alone.

Thanks (2)
John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
21st Dec 2016 10:55

Thank you as ever for your feedback stepurhan.

Just to assure you, we have been paying attention to similar comments from members since May and our developers have used this information to program a sequence of improvements to speed things up and make the interface work better for those posting and commenting on articles and Any Answers threads. It’s an incremental process, so please bear with us. As the upgrade work continues we should see further improvements in 2017.

On to the "community" bit you mentioned. The awards aren't quite the big bonanza they have been in previous years - we opted instead to flag up some individuals and threads that we thought might bring back some lighter-hearted memories of a difficult year.

One of the things that was omitted from the end of the article was an invitation for community members to put forward their own nominations - which you can all do here.

Sorry. Now that I've addressed that oversight, who would you nominate for a community award?

Thanks (0)
Replying to John Stokdyk:
By stepurhan
21st Dec 2016 14:19

John Stokdyk wrote:

Sorry. Now that I've addressed that oversight, who would you nominate for a community award?

Nominated threads already above.

I neither watch videos nor read blogs on AWeb.

Whilst having nothing against Glennzy, I don't see tech champion as an accounting award. HMRC are definitely "championing" the push into tech under MTD, and that is hardly award-worthy.

Born Dull would have been of interest, if the people awarded had still been accountants. However, the Olympians (admirable as they are) have given up accountancy, and Ben Affleck's character was never an accountant in the first place. Was this an attempt at irony, given AW seems to be ignoring its accounting members these days?

I might have nominated candidates for other more relevant awards as appeared previously. Guess it's a shame you decided to cut those out.

Thanks (0)
By MM Bookkeeping Services
21st Dec 2016 11:40

How about Cheekychappy for the 'most banned member of the year'?

Thanks (1)
paddle steamer
21st Dec 2016 12:08

"Whilst the new look may not be everyone’s cup of tea, its soul is still the same:"

Tell that to Dr Faustus, it may be the same soul but it is certainly now taking a different path- just hope it does not take twenty four years.

Thanks (1)
By FirstTab
21st Dec 2016 12:36

Hello John

I thought, Sift would use this opportunity to try and get some of that community spirit back.

By the Editorial team (plus the guy at the very top) being judge and jury, sadly it was a missed opportunity to get the community involved.

I do not understand the direction Sift is heading. It is just NOT connecting with its members any more. This thread is another example where, I think, the team has got the members back up by being judge and jury.

In the end, the Sift owners, can and do what they want and clearly that is what is happening.

Maybe Sift wants to be national paper for accountants rather than a forum.

Dare I say it, may be a female team member in the editorial team may bring a different perspective. It is very much needed.

From my perspective, even though your numbers may NOT indicate it, you/Sift need duck down of some key issues to generate that community spirit.

I understand, the site will not change. I am sure they are sound financial reasons for this. Fair enough.

It is Sift's could not careless PERCEPTION, that needs to be thought about.

I hope the holiday period, gives the decision makers of Sift, time to think and reflect. If history is anything to go by, I think it will be business as usual. Since I have no other real alternative, I will continue to login.

Thanks (1)
Glenn Martin
By Glenn Martin
21st Dec 2016 13:58

As Tech Champion do I get a donated Apple watch from one of our sponsers.

Thanks (3)
Replying to Glennzy:
By stepurhan
21st Dec 2016 14:21

Glennzy wrote:

As Tech Champion do I get a donated Apple watch from one of our sponsors.

Isn't the first prize for tech champion a seat at the MTD table with HMRC. :-) Make our voices heard Glennzy! (also keep pushing for the watch as well)
Thanks (1)
Replying to stepurhan:
Glenn Martin
By Glenn Martin
21st Dec 2016 15:29

If I ever got face to face with HMRC to discuss MTD and the other idiotic ideas they come up with I might have to go all Ben Affleck and start thrashing a few of them.

Thanks (0)
Replying to Glennzy:
By alan.rolfe
21st Dec 2016 15:10

From what I gather an Apple watch and MTD have much in common.

They both seem like a good idea, but when you come to the reality there is much left to be desired and are not really a practical solution!

Congrats, all the same, though.

Thanks (2)
By sosleepy
21st Dec 2016 15:24

Most awards ceremonies seem to have a section to remember 'those no longer with us'. Maybe there should be such a section this time to list those who have left since the update.
Then again, just think of all the scrolling and 'view more' that would be involved...

Thanks (2)
Replying to sosleepy:
paddle steamer
21st Dec 2016 17:53

Yes, but we can surely entertain ourselves deciding which piece of music could be played as the list scrolled.

We need something decorous to the circumstances, it has to carry the appropriate symbolism but most importantly it needs to be at least a full 20 minutes long to cover the time needed for the scrolling list.

Here is my suggestion, no relevance to A Web except the albatross reference:

Edit; Have just noticed another symbolic reference, the music speaks of a return and that has to be the site's desire, that the users will return.

So a screen, showing their names ascendant as they scroll upwards (heavenward as against down the screen-the other place), the music so obviously sympathetic and resonant re their return, nay resurrection.

(I just knew English Lit at Uni, and my skills in criticism, would eventually have a practical application)

Thanks (2)
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
22nd Dec 2016 09:21

I have previously enjoyed this annual thread.


Thanks (0)
By stepurhan
22nd Dec 2016 10:20

Bumped from the front page already. Even though there are three older stories with less responses, one of which has no responses at all.

Sums up the way Sift seem to feel about the AW community these days. Have awards without any community involvement, and then hide them when that gets a bad reaction anyone could have predicted.

Thanks (0)
Portia profile image
By Portia Nina Levin
22nd Dec 2016 14:51

There is still one category open for voting:

Thanks (0)