The week beginning Monday 13 March was a busy one in the accounting industry. In Melbourne on Tuesday 14 and Wednesday 15 was the latest edition of Accounting Business Expo. Then on Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 was the inaugural edition of Accountex in Sydney.
At Accounting Business Expo I was moderating a small panel on the topic of “Insights into running a successful practice”. The idea was to look at how a “practice manager” contributes to firm success.
At Accountex I was on a panel of three plus a moderator talking about the future of the relationship between accountants and bookkeepers. Andrew Conway, the CEO of the IPA provided a great analogy – that historically accountants might have considered themselves as the doctors and the bookkeepers as the nurses. I like this analogy as it is the nurse that typically has the most contact with a patient on a day to day basis, just as the bookkeeper has the most contact day to day with a business.
Both events were a mixture of content and exhibits. It seemed to me that at both events content delivery was dominated by those who had paid to exhibit, which is not surprising. These are expensive events to run. I submitted some fabulous session ideas but alas not were taken up. Next year perhaps!
One of the questions on the lips of some attendees and exhibitors I spoke with was “can Australia really support two competing events of this type?” I guess time will tell. Some also had a view that perhaps this type of event has past its use by date. While Xerocon has arguably become the defacto industry event for many people, I think there is still value in these events. Xero have announced that they will not have a conference in Australia each year, with it rotating through other countries after the 2023 edition in Sydney. They do have a series of roadshows but these are very locality based and on a much smaller scale.
Personally I like the opportunity to catch up with lots of people in the one place, although I’m not an attender at the parties that come with these events. Call me anti-social! ABE and Accountex seemed to have about the same number of people attending but that is based on my time on the ground at each and a gut feel only. The exhibitors were a bit different with Accountex having more of what I’d describe as the mainstream, well known vendors. Both had a good sample of the offshore providers.
When it comes to software tools I ‘m vendor agnostic, but I wanted to mention a few things that caught my eye.
Swift Fox CRM – the new kid on the block 20 + years in the making
For a while now I’ve had on my list of articles to write a discussion about the use of a CRM in an accounting firm. I think it’s fair to say there has not been a tool on the market that has been widely grabbed by accountants as a CRM, in the way for example Ignition has been grabbed for proposals and payments or Business Fitness How Now for workpapers. One of the reasons for this is we just haven’t seem the right product in my view. Could this be it? Too early to tell but it looks interesting.
Karbon and Xero are talking to each other
Many of you are likely familiar with Karbon as a quasi practice management / workflow / client portal system. And many of you will be aware that it has not integrated with Xero PM and that has made it less attractive for some. Hot off the press at Accountex is the news that Karbon and Xero have kissed and made up and integration is on the way. It’s all a bit interesting as Karbon does still seem to promote itself as a PMS.
Kloud Konnect – another brave attempt at a new style practice management system
I’d not come across this before and it was only that a client mentioned to me that I took any notice.
Seamlss – a simple tool to speed up client onboarding and client verification
Some of the bigger firms have this covered already but for others I thought this could be useful. In essence it provides an easy way to capture information from new clients and feed it into your PMS. (Actually maybe only XPM at this stage?) It is a complement to Ignition as far as I can tell, although I do wonder why Ignition haven’t added this functionality already.