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Heather Smith’s predictions for industry events for 2019

Posted 2 weeks ago in Advisors by Guest
Posted by Guest

Heather Smith is focused on helping advisors embrace the add-on marketplace ecosystem. Using her superpower of ‘explanation’ she’s educated over one million people, via her YouTube channel, her Cloud Stories podcast, an online MasterMind group, and a curated apps ecosystem newsletter – all of which are available for free! Plus, she’s written nine business books including the Xero for Dummies series. Heather is a chartered accountant and Xero platinum partner who believes advisors can work from anywhere, and support clients anywhere, by honing their ability to offer services online. (See her previous article.) After attending or speaking at nearly every industry event in Australia in 2018, Heather is well placed to predict what she sees for industry events in 2019.

Editor’s note: As we gear up for 2019, we wanted to get your thoughts on what to expect in the year ahead. So we’ve asked some of the most influential voices in accounting, bookkeeping, technology and public policy to weigh in. Today, we hear from Heather Smith, small business advisor and author of Xero for Dummies.

Must attends

Events are a mixture of content, learning, speakers, exhibitors, networking and take an investment of time and money. All these factors impact the success of attending. I’ve benefited in some way from every industry event I’ve attended, but I’m strategic in my approach. I study the program, know who’ll be there and what will be happening, and identify what I want out of it. I’m disciplined with my time during the event, and I follow up afterward. I can’t tell you what the ‘must attend’ industry events for 2019 are, as they’ll be different for everyone. You need to identify what you want or need and match that to what’s available. To find events, look to industry associations, software vendors, local business hubs, and Meetup groups, and talk to your peers. If you’re not sure what you want or where to start, register for the free February 2019 national Xero Australia roadshow. The agenda looks appsolutely fabulous.

Destination conferences

I think cloud advisors who’re able to operate from anywhere, will take advantage of conferences in desirable destinations. They’ll engage in extended workcations (working on vacation). They’ll challenge themselves to travel across the country or the globe to attend events that they tag on to a holiday. Spending time immersed in a different culture, with new and different challenges, apps and peers shakes up your perspective. It helps identify opportunities you may never have seen from your backyard. I’d encourage you to go to an overseas conference. In 2019, Receipt Bank are holding a retreat in Port Douglas, and the Outsourced Accountant are holding an outsourcing conference on the island of Cebu in the Philippines. I also think the weather is splendid in London in May for AccounTex and in San Diego in June for Xerocon.

I am woman, hear me roar

The number of female speakers represented at accounting events is ridiculously low.

Many industry events had no females on the stage in 2018.

Many industry events had no females on the stage in 2018.

Many industry events had no females on the stage in 2018.

If event organisers want to attract females and modern-thinking men to attend, they need to be proactive about including female speakers Women bring different ideas, views and considerations to topics and the discussion. And they represent both the industry and the business clients.

To their credit, the Accountants Big Day Out speaker line-up evolved to include more females when the lack of representation was pointed out to them. It ended up being a sensational event with a diverse mixture of accountants sharing with other accountants how they run a modern practice.

In short, 2019 industry events need more female speakers.

Plus, I want to hear from speakers who are currently living and breathing accountants working in the industry – not commentators with slick presentations, and no industry qualification or experience.

Content delivery

I’m hoping to see more content delivered in the form of gamification or facilitated discussions.

Gamification

MAUS and the Cloud Integrators apps advisory camp embraced gamification as a hands-on practical method for accountants to learn advisory skills. Split into groups, presented with a realistic case study, we brainstormed financial, operational and advisory strategies. Each group presented their findings back to the other teams, exercising communication and presentation skills.

Real-time polling, conference bingo, and full-blown role-playing engage attendees and assist in learning opportunities.

Facilitated table discussions

In Melbourne, at AccounTech.Live, the conference showcasing accounting technology,  Receipt Bank sponsored table discussions. They were surprisingly effective. I facilitated several. Accountants and bookkeepers eagerly participated. They shared problems and solutions and left with some strategies they could take back to their business. I’d like to see more smaller, intimate opportunities like this.

Content topics

For 2019, I predict event topics will include masterclass sessions on advisory, communication and soft skills – plus a rise in specialist events.

Events organisers are recognising the opportunity to specialise and are offering masterclass sessions. BGL Corporate Solutions will run, for the third year in a row, a speciality roadshow RegTech which focuses purely on regulatory compliance. The accounting associations also run niche events, such as the SMSF Association National Conference 2019, and Chartered Accountants ANZ run multiple events through the year.

It’d be useful if conference organisers included comprehensive details about sessions and indicated beginner, intermediate and advanced levels, so we can make informed decisions.

And finally, what to pack into 2019

Two highlights of 2019 are the Accounting and Business Expo which will be held in Sydney in March on my 50th birthday! And Xerocon is back in Brisbane. If you’ve never been to Xerocon, book yourself a workcation and join us. It’ll be the best three days you can imagine. Brisbane is glorious. Plus, there are sure to be lots of awesome industry events happening around Xerocon. I’ve locked in my pre-Xerocon community event, which you’re invited to, for the afternoon before Xerocon. And one last thing here’s my conference packing checklist that I refined during my travels last year.

 

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