The Accounting Business Expo was held in Sydney at the International Convention Centre on 28 and 29 April. For those of you who didn’t make it let me give you a taste of what you missed. This was the first ABE since 2019 and it is effectively a combination of suppliers to the accounting industry (dominated by software vendors) showing their wares and short (20 minute) education sessions running concurrently in multiple mini theatres.

For me it was a great opportunity to catch up face to face with people in our profession that I’ve not seen for some time. And of course, in my role as an accounting firm coach, mentor and consultant, to keep uptodate with what’s going on.

There were a few pretty obvious themes coming through in both exhibitors and education sessions:

  • Crypto currencies
  • Automation
  • People challenges

I made reference to cryptocurrencies in another article on the Metaverse which you can read here. One observation worth making is that a large number of firms report getting queries about crypto currency. Whether you believe it is a good thing or not, it seems to me it is something that accountants now need to have at least a basic understanding of so they can have conversations with clients.

I was a panel with Shaye Thyer (Intuit), Olwyn Connolly (Inflo) and Tyler Caskey (The Bean Counters) exploring the use of Robotic Process Automation, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. In 20 minutes we really couldn’t cover much ground, but all agreed that automation is and will have a significant impact on how accounting firms operate and bring opportunities to be more efficient. We also agreed it won’t solve all your problems!

I also did a fireside chat with Daniel West of MYOB who asked me some questions about getting the most from existing clients rather than always chasing new clients. Many firms I speak with readily acknowledge they have significant unmet needs in their client base. Many also note their challenge in meeting those needs due to a lack of capacity. I dare say some of that is due to the challenges in finding and keeping people but also in some firms I’m convinced there remain significant inefficiencies chewing up valuable capacity. If you haven’t had a critical look at how you manage workflow and complete key tasks in your firm for more than say 18 months, then I suggest you schedule to do that before you get into FY22 work in a big way.

There were a number of sessions on the challenges of finding and keeping good people and also on the gender imbalance at senior levels in our profession. Both current and important topics.

I bumped into a recruiter called Michael Edelstein who recorded this chat with me:

Short Interview with Rob Pillans – Accounting Business Expo 2022 – Bing video

This was a free event and as a result a large number of the education sessions were run by businesses who had paid to have a stand or to speak. The quality was variable with some just thinly veiled sales pitches. That said, I do think if you are in the city where this event is held it is worth the effort to attend. Most accountants I spoke with said there was at least one or two things they saw or experienced that were enough to make it worthwhile. I understand it will be in Melbourne on 14 and 15 March 2023. See more here.