XU Magazine - Issue 14

What’s new at Accounting Business Expo

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Can I be any better at what I do? As an individual, as a business owner, or in relation to the business itself? The answer should always be yes. I only recently understood why…

These past summer holidays I took my two daughters and myself to a rollerblading lesson at the local skate shop.

The shop had told us our instructor was a world champion at freestyle rollerblading. At the beginning of the lesson I had to ask – was it true? “Three times,” he said. Watching him skate transformed a silly recreational activity into art, a display of beautiful possibilities and flawless execution. When someone demonstrates mastery it is literally mesmerising.

How could we ever be taught by anyone else? It is unthinkable. How much would we be prepared to pay for another lesson? Happily twice as much. How would we treat any advice given by this instructor? With devoted commitment.

The world of business isn’t like the world of competitive sports. There’s no Olympics where one accountant is ruled the best in compliance.

We can create and dominate our own niches. Add a slightly different spin to your services or your marketing and you can be world class too, with a list of loyal clients who wouldn’t think of going anywhere else.

So what should you do differently?

You will find a very long list of ideas at this year’s Accounting Business Expo on March 21 and 22, which returns to Sydney’s ICC Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour.

The rapidly developing area of business advisory is throwing up some fantastic new ideas. Former accountant turned investment banker Lance Rubin, ModelCitzn, will share his experiences on building financial models. Most accountants selling business advisory will mock up a cashflow forecast in a dashboard or spreadsheet. Rubin builds “holistic” models that simultaneously forecast the balance sheet, P&L and cashflow. Right up to the Monte Carlo simulation which forecasts thousands of scenarios. In his interview with Brad Eisenhuth from the Outperformer, Rubin will talk about the skills required to build these models and how accountants can learn them or hire them into their practice.

One of the bigger challenges in the accounting profession is innovation in mid-size and larger firms. Compliance divisions struggle to keep up with the latest breakthroughs in efficiency because of the cost of swapping out practice management tools.

How do you motivate staff to try something new?

A growing trend, especially among the Big 4, is to create a separate cloud accounting division. Is this feasible for mid-size firms too?

The expert panel includes Fleur Telford, director of technology enterprise at KPMG, accounting firm coach Rob Pillans from Planet Consulting, and veteran accounting software consultant Alan FitzGerald of Practice Connections.

Continuing the theme, do you ever wonder if there are common elements to innovative companies?

One woman who knows the answer is Amantha Imber, CEO of Inventium. Inventium designs innovation programs and runs an “innovation maturity index” to measure the creative energy in a business.

The index is the methodology used in the Australian Financial Review’s Most Innovative Companies List. Imber will be sharing tips for driving innovation in companies with 30 or more staff.

There is also a fresh angle on the critical skill of value pricing. There are plenty of books, courses and consultants that will help you move from hourly billing to fixed fee. But nothing is as valuable as the experiences of those who have already blazed the path.

Hear how to avoid one of the most common (and valid!) concerns – losing money on value pricing, especially from scope creep – from three experienced owners of bookkeeping and accounting practices.

Right now there is a lot of lateral movement within the accounting profession. This is bringing ideas and practices into different contexts. Chartered accountant Meryl Johnston worked at BDO as an auditor and then two years ago started her own bookkeeping business.

Johnston shares the lessons she learned from systemising bookkeeping using the controls and processes from her previous job.

One terrific session for all accounting professionals is an explainer on machine learning. An element of artificial intelligence, it is the process behind algorithms in pattern recognition. If you want to understand more about the automation of bank reconciliation and compliance processes and how it will work, Convertworx’s Inbal Steinberg will break it down for you. What’s the most important activity in a business? A good answer would be sales, but a better one is “building IP”. Carlo Minassian is a two-time entrepreneur – he sold his first company, a managed IT security services business, for tens of millions of dollars.

Now he is building a tech company that tracks and catches hackers once they have entered a corporate network. Minassian is focused on one thing – not bringing in services revenue but creating intellectual capital. This is the best way to establish a highly valuable company that is impossible for competitors to catch.

And for those curious about the bleeding edge of technology you need to hear Jason Atkins, CEO of the Blockchain Club. Atkins is a CPA on the Gold Coast who has gone all in on blockchain. He creates digital tokens for Australian businesses looking to improve their supply chains, and also has an investment arm that buys and sells cryptocurrencies on behalf of investors.

Behind the high- risk commodity trading, the nascent blockchain technology promises to increase efficiency, transparency and trust with suppliers. It will inevitably appear in some form in government and business.

Accounting Business Expo is an explosion of great ideas, and plays host to Australia’s biggest exhibition of game-changing business tools and technologies, for every leader in the world of accounting.

I look forward to seeing you there.

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About the author

Sholto Macpherson

Sholto Macpherson is head of content for the Accounting Business Expo and editor of DigitalFirst.com