Queenstown was the perfect venue for the sixth Proactive Accountants Network annual conference. Many firms flew into the picturesque venue from around Australia and New Zealand to learn from international guest speakers, John Warrillow, who shared pragmatic ideas on how to help clients prepare their businesses for sale, and Dandapani, who enthralled the audience with a day on spirituality in business. The feedback from delegates on both speakers was overwhelmingly positive.
On Day 3, we were treated to an afternoon on sustaining motivation by Natalie Cook who, as the only Australian woman to compete in five Olympic Games, was eminently qualified for the topic. Nat’s hard hitting style went down a treat.
As always, my interviews with high performing accounting firms were well received. Accountants love to learn from their peers and they got plenty of ‘how tos’ from Greg Millar and Vanessa Williams (Alloitt NZ Ltd) on workflow management, Paul and Tracy Simpson (KSM) on people and culture, Jason and Tracey Besters (ProView Financial Group) on value based sales, Peter Locandro and Bernie Trounce (ZJL Partners) on marketing and sales and Ray Taggart and Danella McLeod (Taggart & Partners) who shared the techniques they have implemented in their firm to reach new sales targets which could well see the whole team travel to Las Vegas as a reward for achieving outstanding results.
I spoke about the future of compliance, highlighting the changes threatening to eat into the accountants’ heartland. I focused on deregulation and tax simplification as well as the impact of Cloud accounting systems. Accountants are already starting to feel price pressure as competitors go to market with a compelling value proposition of lower price and higher service. In my talk, I outlined my vision for the proactive firm of the future, offering a core service offering of planning and monitoring. In my experience, most business owners do virtually no planning and are hopeless with numbers. They also have limited (if any) accountability in their operations. Accountants are well positioned to assist in all three of these areas. There are two million active small businesses in Australia and New Zealand crying out for help from a proactive accountant.
To help accountants embrace their ‘default mantle’ of natural trusted advisor, we have created a step by step systematized approach to delivering this service, enabling accountants to cross the bridge from compliance into value based fees in a way that is not dependent on the partners for delivery. I was delighted by the response to my offer of a two day workshop for partners, managers and senior accountants where I will be going deep on the topic. There are still some places available for the workshops on 1st/2nd May and 1st/2nd July – contact me for more details via this blog.
My business partner Rob Nixon closed the conference with a strong presentation on how accountants can remain relevant in a fast changing environment. Then, on the final evening, we presented our annual awards with competition fierce for the seven coveted gongs. Before the awards ceremony, 16 lucky winners experienced the highlight of a lifetime with a bungy jump off the stunning Kawarau bridge as the sun went down. What a spectacular way to close a great week.