AB Expo 2018 | Sholto Macpherson’s tips for planning your schedule

By: Paul Murray, Posted on: March 14, 2018

It’s nearly here: Accounting Business Expo is Australia’s biggest annual finance industry event, attracting thousands of visitors keen to learn about the latest trends, products and industry best practices from the very best.

But with more than 100 sessions across nine theatres, it’s difficult to know which events to choose. Enter Sholto Macpherson, Head of Content for Accounting Business Expo. He’s played a crucial role in developing the event’s comprehensive agenda, so he’s the perfect person to give us the inside intel on what not to miss. He kindly allowed me to ask him a few questions on behalf of AccountKit blog readers.

PM: What’s the best way to plan for the event?

SM: Start with the problem your practice is facing at the moment and plan your agenda around the most relevant sessions. No matter your current practice issue or objective, AB Expo gives you the chance to learn from people who have faced and surmounted similar challenges. Because the range of speakers and sessions is so diverse, it’s important to plan ahead to get maximum value for your time.

PM: What events do you recommend for those looking to move into the advisory space?

SM: Rebecca Mihalic, Director, Aptus Accounting and Advisory has a session on How to turn a $3k client into $12k. She’ll give accounting practice managers practical tips on increasing income from advisory services and transitioning current clients to more bespoke advisory services. For the more ambitious accounting firms, I’d highly recommend Lisa Kernes, COO of Ignite Alliance. Her session How an accountant became a growth strategist – with six-figure clients will share how her improved processes doubled turnover for three consecutive years.

PM: There’s a lot of talk about outsourcing in the industry at the moment. What sessions will be covering this hot topic?

SM: Outsourcing is a great way to expand with fewer risks than hiring staff and committing to the subsequent high wage costs. By hiring contractors on a per job basis, firms can keep costs under control, yet still deliver high quality work by using the right contractors. If you're going to do it, you should find out as much as you can about the different ways of outsourcing and work out which fits you best. There are four sessions on this from three vendors.

Nick Sinclair, Chairman of the Outsourced Accountant and Mark Said, CEO, MKS Group are speaking about How to hire your ninth (and beyond!) employee in the Philippines, sharing the secrets to cultivating a productive workplace culture despite geographic and cultural barriers.

Nick Sinclair is also presenting Outsourcing your firm? Target these three processes first.

Another Nick, Nick Hastings of Hammerjack, is presenting Field of dreams or false economy: nailing ROI for outsourcing and revealing how to avoid the mistakes of bad outsourcing and sharing real life examples of outsourcing success.

Edward Hayes, Business Transformation Advisor with Connect Outsourcing is presenting Beat burnout: how to get more done when you just can’t stop, sharing an alternative to the classic outsourcing model that saves time and requires minimal effort.

PM: What sessions are good for the sole practitioner accountant?

SM: I’d start with the panel session How to make money (not lose it!) on value pricing.  It’s ideal for the sole practitioner to learn from those who’ve been there and done that. It’ll help solo accountants learn how to manage scope of services, bill services according to value and spot the danger signs for potential cost-eroding clients.

PM: Sometimes we accountants take better care of our clients than we do our own practice. Any sessions that cover the challenge of working on the business, not in the business?

SM: A great practical session on this is from Phong Le, Head of Growth APAC at Expensify. His session is Preaccounting: Why ignoring expense management is a costly mistake. He’ll share how to gain control of the practical elements of compliance and make sure it’s efficient, consistent and accurate. Another is Matthew Prouse, AU Partner Solutions Manager for Xero, who’ll be presenting Cloud vs Industry Benchmarks – hard data on what works best (and what doesn’t).  He’ll be sharing metrics you can use to assess your success in moving into the cloud and how to use technologies to achieve practice goals for 2018.

PM: Events like this always provide thought provoking content on marketing. What can we look forward to this year?

SM: It’s common for busy accountants to leave marketing lower down on the priority list. There’s two sessions I’d recommend that will help kickstart any practice’s marketing efforts. Taking the mystery out of digital marketing for accountants from MC Carter, Founder of Practice Paradox, will provide a simple yet effective way to get started with digital marketing and measure its effectiveness. Also, the session on How to grow your firm through digital storytelling by Deborah Croucher, Founding Director of Brilliant Digital shows how to use digital storytelling grow your brand and win new business.

PM: Wow, there’s certainly plenty going on! Any others you’d like to mention?

SM: I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a few extra. And there’s plenty more gems in the agenda, especially:

PM: Thanks for the inside knowledge Sholto.

SM: My pleasure. We are looking forward to a great event in Sydney and we hope to see many AccountKit blog readers there.

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