Calling all accountants – develop your adviser skills for free!

Calling all accountants – develop your adviser skills for free!

It sounds like an unbelievable offer but on May 15 the ICAEW are leaping into the 21st-century and running a virtual conference. Throughout the day you can login and listen to some leading national speakers talking on a range of subjects from Blockchain, digital disruption, AI and the future of work, with Paul Richmond from theGrogroup speaking at 11.30am on ‘Developing the journey from accountant to adviser

It is a very straightforward process to record a webinar now, largely thanks to Laura Jarman at ICAEW, but the ease of organisation and the delivery mechanism is a lesson for all firms. Organising a conference, especially internationally, is hard work. Not only do you have to continuously remind speakers to send presentations through, re-organise the running schedule because of availability, organise catering, coffee times and logistics so everyone is in the right place at the right time but the expense, simply getting people there, is enormous.

Enter the virtual conference. While it can lack the camaraderie and networking opportunity of the real thing, the ICAEW have got around this to some extent by organising a Q&A with the speakers. So for example, between 1.45 and 2.20pm, Paul will be logged in and talking to delegates about the challenge they face in shifting the mindset of their fee earners from being pure technicians, towards being added value advisers.

All of this is made more important with the advent of machine learning and AI. Listening to Lee Hawksworth (Head of Software Development) at HMRC, a fiercely bearded and incredibly enthusiastic young man, it is clear that HMRC have a solid plan for the future and with £8bn of funding secured from the government in 2017, I have no doubt we will see a huge number of changes coming our way for the benefit of our clients in the next few years.

What should you do?

I think all firms can take a number of steps towards being fit for the future as the world adapts:

  1. Appoint a CTO to the management board. Not somebody ‘…to make sure the network can run…’ but somebody who can create a vision for your firm about how it interacts with clients in the future – digitally
  2. Keep integration and interaction on the agenda. One of the key challenges is a perception that IT and Digital disruption is happening “out there”. Because it’s not. It’s happening IN your business, when your employees use their own devices for work, when they take the laptop home, when they work on holiday, when they join the WhatsApp group that is shared with the client, when they follow a client’s LinkedIn profile or set up Google alerts. It must be part and parcel of your business
  3. Decide how you need to shape the people in your business. How will recruitment change in future? Will you need trainee accountants? Or programmers? Do you need lateral hire accountants? Or business consultants
  4. How to deal with colleagues who say; “We have never needed a strategic plan before and we’ve been doing fine…” Because the world has moved on. Who is going to shape your strategic plan in future, that integrates client needs and your fee earner development?

There is a lot to action and if your firm is not worried about how it needs to change then this is for you – because small, lean, niche firms are drawing in clients with high volume low value services that are so cost effective most traditional firms cannot compete.

We all need to keep up!

So tune in on May 15, click here for more details

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