Review: Notes from the tax lecture circuit

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With the 2013/14 tax lecture season looming and accountants planning their CPD requirements for the rest of the year, Robert Lovell rates four tax lectures he attended during the past year or so.

The assignment was to attend a handful of lectures to get a flavour for the tax circuit and give AccountingWEB members an idea of the available options.

This overview draws together impressions of the sessions attended. But several of the lectures led to news stories that made their way onto the site. Some of these articles were among our best-read content at the time and went on to spark lively discussion between community members, which demonstrates how a good lecture doesn't just freshen up your technical knowledge, it can stimulate ideas about how to apply your expertise in new ways.

AccountingWEB wanted to get a good cross-section of organisations, venues and presenters. PTP, SWAT, Mercia and Tolley were kind enough to let us observe and report on their proceedings.

We experienced four very different presenting styles and encountered a wide range of tax topics. Most of the lectures took place near Bristol, where the AccountingWEB office is located, with the exception of one session in Newbury. The venues included a rugby club, a golf course and cinema...

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About Robert Lovell

Business and finance journalist


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    11th Jul 2013 14:47

    I was on the tax seminar speaker circuit for many years

    As may or may not be well known I no longer lecture on tax issues as such*. 

    When I did speak on the circuit I was aware that, like many of the 'usual suspects' I could well be speaking for SWAT one week, Mercia another and so on. Very few lecturers speak exclusively for one provider.

    When I authorised staff to attend courses in the dim and distant past I was reluctant to allow them to attend those where the speaker was a professional lecturer or author. I was of the view, that the speaker had to be able to share commercial and practical experience for attendance to be worthwhile. Everything else could be got from a book or, these days, online.

    More recently I realised that different people have different learning styles and preferences. Some prefer to hear and to watch a speaker rather than just to read. Thus some people will get plenty of benefit from attending talks presented by professionals, especially those who are excellent communicators - whether or not they are also in practice.


    *There were two reasons I stopped lecturing on tax issues:

    1) I did not want to have to keep trying to remain fully uptodate with tax rule changes; 

    2) A few years after leaving practice I felt uncomfortable sharing technical tax knowledge that did not come with the related commercial and practical experience. 

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    11th Jul 2013 13:46

    In the past...
    If I like a lecture or not depends on the lecturer. If I go with one company over another it would depend on the cost as well as which lecturers they have.

    I would even go to a lecture, even if I had to pay for it, if I liked the lecturer and I thought it would be useful.

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    12th Jul 2013 11:57

    Mercia and Coffee

    I went to a number of Mercia lectures in 2012 at the he Royal Society of Medicine 1 Wimpole Street.  The quality of the lectures varied greatly.  However the coffee didn't - it was always awful.

    On a positive note I found this a really helpful article.

    Thanks (2)
    12th Jul 2013 13:16

    Obscure Points

    Whilst it is difficult to structure courses to suit everyone - the main bug bear I have is that on average 25% is useful, 25% is interesting and 50% is obscure and has little relevance to 99% of the attendees. If lecturers prefaced their remarks by asking - how many attendees are interested or involved with topic X - then they could reconsider whether to merely advise that there was an issue to consider and swiftly move on - or to give the topic more detailed attention. At this point I have to say that being a practitioner herself, Rebecca Bennyworth rarely falls foul of the above - so when I see her lecturing - I book. 

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    13th Jul 2013 12:19

    As a PTP lecture client

    ...for a number of years, I have to say that I have found both Tim Good's and Mark Ward's presentations very useful, and also very entertaining. They are also interactive with questions and contributions from “the floor” encouraged. This means that we get to hear a good deal about current practice, which of course keeps both we attendees and our presenters on top of HMRC's latest attitudes.


    Attending tax updates in person and paying in advance also avoids the one issue I have always feared, but not so far succumbed to, which is with recorded seminars putting off until next week what I should be looking at today. :)

    Thanks (1)
    18th Jul 2013 10:42

    Tax lecture circuit

    The GOOD review (excuse the pun) of Tolleys confirms why I changed from other providers. They always have the best lecturers (Rebecca Benneyworth  being one of them) and I always look forward to hearing Tim Good speak. They sometimes have inappropriate lectures but never bad lecturers.    Mercia are very good on specific subjects such as Property Taxes.                                                                                                                                                                                     Sheila Morrison

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