What we learned at: Accountex North

Declan Curry speaking at Accountex North
Tom Herbert
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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

The updated general data protection regulation (GDPR) also featured prominently in conversations at the summit, with the deadline of 25 May looming large in the mind of accountants.."GDPR is outside firms' normal compliance comfort zone," said Maria Lauring from Practice Ignition, which automates client on-boarding. "With GDPR, firms that process personal data need to issue privacy notices to their clients. The letter of engagement can be that notice, and they can update it to reference the new data protection terms and conditions that apply," she explained.

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.

Cartoon character

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:

Robert Duncan cartoon

You can see some of his other work on his website.

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08th Mar 2018 19:31

A Great round up of Accountex Summit North - and I am sure having Accounting Web as one of our most important media partners played a big part in its success!
Thank you

Thanks (2)
to Zoe Lacey
12th Mar 2018 13:41

We’ll be back! Much more laid back compared to the craziness of Accountex London. Thanks Zoe.

Thanks (2)
11th Mar 2018 18:28

I think having a reoccurring Accountex event in the North is a great idea. However I do think that it was definitely a poorer cousin to the London event and some changes are needed in order to improve it as per my blog post (see below). Hopefully the Accountex team have taken the feedback onboard and the event goes from strength to strength in future years.

https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/community/blogs/neophyte/accountex-summi...

Thanks (2)
to Neophyte
13th Mar 2018 16:49

HI Neophyte

We certainly did take all your feedback on board, including the positive feedback also. I did respond to your post in case you did not see it too - its the REALLY long response!

Thanks (0)
12th Mar 2018 13:47

I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed Accountex North. The exhibitors' stands were well laid out and easy to navigate and the keynote theatre was set up perfectly in the auditorium. I have to admit that I preferred it to Accountex London mainly because it wasn't as busy. And yes, the food was yum and plentiful.

Thanks (2)
12th Mar 2018 18:16

Conference for sole practitioners?

My take on the stands at Accountex London was that it was mostly aimed at small/sole practitioners.

Xero/QBO/SageOne/FreeAgent (and the app add-ons) are all aimed at contractor/micro/small businesses which are the staple diet of small accountancy practices.

Do a little research before turning it up and you can work which stands are must see and those which may be of interest.

Chat to other accountants while you're there and you'll find a few others worth looking at.

Thanks (2)