Editorial Manager/US Team Lead
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Editor’s Corner: So It’s Conference Season, So What?

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May 1st 2015
Editorial Manager/US Team Lead
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With filing season a near, but fading, memory, we enter that time of year when CPE, keynote speeches, and product pitches reign supreme. That’s right, it’s conference season, but what does it mean to you?

I may be New York-centric (what good New Yorker isn’t?), but the season usually kicks off in late April/early May with the New York Accounting Technology Show and lasts through the fall. Within the season there are endless opportunities to network, view product and service demos, listen to thought leaders, and share experiences. But none of that will have any value if you go into them without a plan, or simply with the idea of gaining a few continued learning points.

This isn’t to say you should not attend conferences; on the contrary, they are a necessary part of staying connected to your community and chosen profession. The potential not only for valuable learning, but knowledge of the world outside your own clients and practice can be the most important task you do all year … again, if you plan properly.

Much like your own practice, you need to have some form of mission in mind for even attending these events. If not, you risk ending up like the walking dead of practitioners who tend to wander in to some conferences searching for free or low-cost CPE and a cheap meal or vendor tchotchkes.

Even a comparatively low-key event like the New York Accounting Tech show has its merits. For example, here are some of the more insightful sound bites and teachings coming from speakers and attendees at this past week’s event:

  • “With the way the profession is moving, accountants will start prescribing apps to clients the way a doctor prescribes drugs.” – Doug Sleeter, founder and president, The Sleeter Group.
  • “Last year it was ‘Move your practice to the cloud.’ This year it’ll be, ‘What will you do next?’” – David Vidal, business development lead, Expensify, about the add-on developer’s theme for the 2015 season.
  • Chet Singer from M&A brokerage Globoforce noted that accountants are always complaining that the recent tax season was worse than ever before and put it down to factors this year such as competition, the amount of time it takes to get to consolidated accounts, and even the weather.
  • “SSARS 21 is making a real impact on client accounting. The handcuffs have been taken off, so you can now aggressively build out the modern accountancy practice. This summer, the accounting guide is coming out on SSARS 21. Lack of clarity in defining responsibilities for preparers and auditors has held firms back from getting into preparation. SSARS 21 provides a bright line between accounts preparation and reporting.” – Erik Asgeirsson, CEO, CPA.com.

Aside from the musings, having a plan to build and grow your practice and gain new clients, resolve inefficiencies, and feel prepared to deal with competition are all everyday struggles. If you don’t have them in mind going in to conference season, you may be better off simply finding an online CPE course and clicking your concerns away.

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