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Bookkeepcon17: Not your typical bookkeepers conference

Posted 8 months ago in Advisors by Mel Morris
Posted by Mel Morris

NZ Bookkeepers Association hosted their 5th annual conference in Auckland on Friday 30th June and Saturday 1st July. It was held in the picturesque setting of Waipuna Lodge. Bookkeepers from all over the country travelled to be there. What I love about the bookies is their collaborative spirit. They were buzzing on social media sharing anything from flight times to organising splitting taxis.

Kick off with a drink

Thursday night started with a few drinks in the house bar. Soon enough bookies from all over filled the bar. We ended up almost taking over the place. The bar hummed with bookkeepers sharing jokes and catching up. It seemed more like a family reunion than a professional body conference.

Friday registration was filled with laughing and hugging, a camaraderie at odds with most people’s stereotypical idea of a bookkeeper. The organisation behind the conference is detailed, thoughtful and simply awesome. Everyone received a personalised conference booklet and bag.

The future of Bookkeeping

The Association is 7 years old, with 650 members across New Zealand. This year it was great to have 149 delegates plus sponsors and exhibitors attend.

This year’s theme was “the Future of Bookkeeping”. The agenda was action packed with fantastic presenters all weaving a story around the journey of Bookkeepers. They also shared ideas for the future and highlighted milestones.

We had an enlightening opening address from the Honorable Jacqui Dean, Minister of Small Business. We also heard from the Deputy Commissioner Mike Cunnington and Jo and Beth from MBIE (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment). These key speakers clearly signalled support from the Government of the Bookkeeping Profession.

Xero was really proud to address the conference with some words on the future including AI and machine learning. This was accompanied by a delightful visual journey of the NZBAI story created by Lisa Martin and myself.

South Africa's small business recession proof

Providing solutions with postit notes

We also facilitated a session on ‘Education; The new enablement’. This was held by Sonya Jones, Genny Stevens and myself. We posed the questions ‘what are your challenges in education/CPD?’ and ‘What has worked for you?’. We invited people to write their contribute their ideas on post it notes and then these were placed on a whiteboard on the stage.

It was interesting that there were many more challenges than successes. We did not expect there to be such a huge difference between challenges and successful CPD. However, it was amazing to be able to work collectively to come up with solutions for some of the challenges.

MBIE presented us with some exciting news. Beth Williams and Jo Hogan introduced us to the unique business identifier NZBN. They then explained how NZBN has already shaped the way we do business with equifax credit ratings. They also emphasised how upcoming e-invoicing will impact business invoicing. Grant Anderson, Head Of Government Relationships at Xero commented that e-invoicing has become a game changer for businesses in NZ to work together. He further explained that “we are glad to see MBIE sharing this information and future with NZBAI”.

Finally NZBN highlighted how important fraud protection and credit ratings are for small businesses.

Back to the Future

We took a trip down memory lane to back to the future of 2005 when brick phones were the latest in technology. Someone noted that The Raiders of the Lost Ark first release was closer to WW2 than the present day! #feelingmyage


We looked forward to 2030 and imagined what Bookkeeping would be like. We predicted that there would be massive growth in software and tools. However all thought that the position of debits and credits with personal interaction will hold true.

How to protect yourself from fraud

Rodger Reidy held a fascinating session on fraud in the workplace. He took us through red flags, the different areas of fraud and encouraged us to check internal controls. I absolutely recommend to start with 2 step authentication. You should use Two-Factor or Multi-Factor Authentication (2FA, MFA) on your email account and other sensitive services. Then enable our Two-Step Authentication (2SA) to enhance the security of your Xero account. Using additional authentication significantly reduces the risk of unauthorised access to your account, even if your password is compromised. Finally I would recommend utilising Xero Business Assurance Dashboard. It picks up deleted or changed bank account numbers, contacts with duplicate bank account numbers and log in usage.

Bill payment authorisation

The key take out from the session was that many Accountants and Bookkeepers hold the final say with bank bill payment authorisation. Linda explained that many SMB’s who outsource their accounts to Bookkeepers and Accountants have the expectation that the Bookkeeper and Accountant is verifying the bills. However generally speaking the Bookkeeper and Accountant will not be telephoning suppliers to check that the work was done and to check their bank account number. Consequently she recommended that the expectation and service delivery should be clear between SMB and advisor.

The conference also attracted overseas guests and legends in the space including Mel Power Head of Bookkeeping Australia and Matthew Addison Executive Director ICB Australia.

All in all the feedback has been amazing and we are already looking forward to next year.

By the way…. I’m humbled and proud to have been awarded the inaugural Life Membership for services to the profession and the association.  #stuckwithmenow


Karen Clunie
July 28, 2017 at 1.55 pm

Thank you Xero for your sponsorship – the conference exceeded my expectations and was full to overflowing with value for bookkeepers. A fantastic place for me to be launching my business as a new bookkeeper.

Glennis Stuckey
July 28, 2017 at 8.12 pm

You deserve the Life Membership Mel and it was an awesome Conference! I had way more fun that I expected, and I already expected it to be fun. Looking forward to next year!

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