AccountingWEB readers will be familiar with the London edition of Accountex, which has run at the ExCel since 2013, but would their mix of keynotes, breakout sessions and stands transfer to Manchester?
The summit drew a select but enthusiastic crowd to the Central Manchester Convention Centre to mingle with exhibitors and listen to presentations from some of the profession's more familiar faces.
Comments from the exhibitors suggested that accountants north of Watford Gap were interested in meeting each other and seeing the products in person, and rather than the jaded "seen it all before" stance of the metropolitan trendies, there was genuine enthusiasm for products and presentations exploring the cloud/advisory practice model.
Here’s what the AccountingWEB team learned at the event.
Location, brand or industry?
While it’s always hard to judge numbers, going from past event experience the hall seemed busy. Was this down to the event location? The strength of the Accountex brand? Or the current buoyancy of the profession? A sensible answer might be all three, although we’d also throw in their excellent choice of media partner…
Practice management high on the agenda
“Practice management is the hottest topic,” Capium co-founder Tushir Patel told AccountingWEB. As the developer of one of the few all-in-one cloud tax and accounting suites, Capium has seen user demand for practice management features soar, particularly to support client/accountant collaboration in areas such as data collection.
The same message came from one of the industry's giants. “MTD is still a driver. Firms have got to prepare now to plan and put it all in place,” said Wolters Kluwer head of sales - north Patrick Hulbert.
Sole practitioners and events
An interesting conversation picked up from Elaine Clark’s second breakout session was around how some small practitioners struggle at big events. The sheer number of brands and stands available can be overwhelming, and many of the products are structured and priced for firms larger than theirs. With events increasingly taking a turn for the niche, perhaps a conference for sole practitioners could be the next big thing?
GDPR looms large
Practice platform skirmishes
The must-have accessory for any practice software developer this spring is a portal or homepage they can describe as a platform. Xero has one, so do Sage and QuickBooks and Receipt Bank, while CCH and MyFirmsApp are also getting in on the act. But the accounting platforms are increasingly finding themselves victims of their own success, with "ecosystems" of add-on applications growing so fast that accountants can't keep up and feel “flooded”, according to several practitioners at the show.
One of AccountingWEB’s favourite finds at Accountex North was Robert Duncan, who set up opposite us as the event’s resident cartoonist, employed for the day to sketch accounting and financial doodles – a tough task, but to which he proved himself equal. Robert kindly agreed to let us pop up a sample of his work here:
You can see some of his other work on his website.
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Contributions from the AccountingWEB.co.uk editorial team.