5th May, 2022
Here are the key trends and themes that formed the core of last week’s Accounting Business Expo.
Having survived the pandemic, the Accounting Business Expo (ABE) returned live and in-person to bring together working professionals from across the accounting and bookkeeping industry.
The two-day conference was delivered across concurrent seminars, so there was stacks of informative content for attendees to choose from. At the same time, the exhibition floor hosted over a hundred solutions providers and tech vendors.
Community Manager (Accountants) for MYOB, Jody Sitters captured the general atmosphere at Sydney’s International Convention Centre at the time.
“It was obvious that being face-to-face with people and getting that three-dimensional view of the world again was a source of excitement for everybody at ABE,” she said.
“There was a bit of an electric atmosphere as a result,” said Sitters. “Combined with the highly topical conference agenda, this year’s event stood out as being really unique.”
For those unable to attend the event, we’ve brought together some of the recurring themes and much-discussed trends from ABE below.
An ongoing result of the pandemic, the rapid shift towards remote and ‘hybrid’ working environments is still a point of discussion among professionals at all levels.
At another event taking place in Melbourne last Thursday, High Court Justice Stephen Gageler gave a keynote address at the Australian Bar Association conference, where he urged lawyers to get back “into the room where it happens” according to the Australian Financial Review.
Gageler spoke to his concern regarding professionalism and professional development among lawyers, but the same topic is hotly discussed across all industries: as concerns regarding COVID-19 transmission subsides, what’s the appropriate balance between remote and in-person work experiences?
At ABE, this point of discussion manifested across any number of seminar theatres and conversations happening on the expo floor as it holds relevance both for payroll and HR management processes, as well as client management strategies.
Rob Pillans, Director of accounting advisory business Planet Consulting, covered elements of this in a fast-paced fireside chat with MYOB Chief Sales and Service Officer, Daniel West.
“The consistent story I’m hearing from accountants is, ‘If I wasn’t so busy trying to knock off all this compliance work and catch up on any COVID-related stuff for clients, there’s probably a whole bunch of other stuff I could be doing with them’,” Pillans said in an interview conducted after the event.
“So if the goal is adding value through advisory work, then a key part of that is understanding our clients’ needs and a lot of the time that can’t be properly achieved with a half-hour or hour-long Zoom call.”
Speaking to a standing-room only crowd early Thursday morning, Senator Andrew Bragg gave his pitch on how the Liberal Party intends to better regulate cryptocurrency in the future.
The aim, the senator said, was to create regulation that “creates certainty while inviting the possibility of more innovation, including innovation which we cannot anticipate” and that it should protect “the interests of consumers and investors on a level playing field while allowing for flexibility, inventiveness and experimentation”.
Setting the tone for the entire two-day proceedings, it was immediately clear that cryptocurrency is in the spotlight for accounting professionals, many of whom have clients investing in crypto or deal with crypto themselves.
“Cryptocurrency and its implications for tax compliance appeared in sessions on both days of the event and they were all well attended,” said MYOB’s Subject Matter Expert (Small Business Accounting), Chris McComb.
“Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have clearly piqued the interest of many investors and they’re gaining a lot of attention from business and financial advisors of all kinds because of that.”
In particular, Advisor and Founder at Cadena Legal, Harrison Dell’s session on ‘Crypto Assets and Common Tax Issues’ provided a solid overview of the major issues currently impacting accountants and bookkeepers in this space.
From outsourcing to AI, the way accountants and bookkeepers handle their client tax and compliance workflows can have enormous impacts on the way they work and the value-added services they offer.
As always, it all comes down to data and how it flows from the client to the advisor (and back again) in a timely, accurate manner.
“While some sessions focused on how to automate certain parts of that journey, it’s clear that accounting professionals are looking for ways to streamline, secure and de-risk that entire workflow,” said Sitters
“We were having a lot of conversations at the MYOB stand on this point, as our customers and the industry in general are still finding out how much they can achieve in their practice by getting up to speed with our full suite of products.”
In particular, Sitters recommends accountants and bookkeepers become more familiar with the capabilities of MYOB Business as a powerful platform for their clients.
“People continue to be surprised at how scalable the MYOB Business platform really is,” she said.
“For advisors servicing much larger clients, we’re talking about MYOB Advanced Business, and there seemed to be more of those conversations this year than I’ve had in the past.”
No matter what area of the accounting and bookkeeping profession you’re in, you’re no doubt already seeing the effects of digitisation. But are you making the most of it?
That’s the question that lay at the heart of Chief Sales and Support Officer for MYOB, Daniel West’s keynote on Thursday morning.
Impacting both small and medium business clients, bigger, mid-market organisations as well as within advisory businesses, West showed how new innovations have led to market fragmentation and, more importantly, the situation where business businesses have become “oversubscribed” when it comes to technology.
The solution? Good digitisation, which can only result from a truly connected experience.
For accountants and bookkeepers, that means being able to do client work “confidently and accurately”, managing your practice through “increasing productivity, your visibility or freeing up time to focus on what matters to you” and, finally, “running the business” by generating more revenue, increasing cashflow and, ultimately, profits.
“If you get the focus on these three functions right, you can make decisions with confidence, provide great client experiences, be more productive in your practice and grow your business,” said West.
But it can’t be achieved with a neverending onslaught of new apps that cause greater complexity and increase cyber security risks.
“Our business management platform takes the effort out of digitally transforming your business as we focus on the workflows that matter,” said West, highlighting MYOB’s capabilities at multiple levels of business.
“Workflow automation, centralisation of your data and business intelligence, and the ability to digitally collaborate – good digitisation means that you can increase your efficiency, gain better insight into your practice, and provide advice to your clients.”