We asked a selection of our speakers and exhibitors to share their highlights of 2017.  From news stories that caught their eye to the latest trends and tech that’ll be shaping things to come – here’s their key takeaways from the last twelve months.

Steve Cox FCCA, chief evangelist, IRIS Accountancy Solutions:

The year has been one of constant change. We started out focusing on what shape MTD would take, to now looking away from MTD instead focusing on the implications and issues of GDPR.  However, the constant has been how we digitally transform the industry. It feels like we are finally breaking through the digital barrier in Accountancy, with machine learning and, ultimately, artificial intelligence starting to emerge within accounting tools and accountants looking to seize the opportunity that has arisen from digital disruption. Time will tell how widely these new tools are adopted within the common practice.

Describe the accounting profession in 5 words or less?
Evolving, Dependant, Resilient, Technical, Futureproof.

Steve Checkley, commercial director at TaxCalc:

TaxCalc’s take on 2017 is one of success mixed with realistic optimism. Scoring a trio of awards at AccountingWeb’s Software Excellence awards has been a definite highlight. As has the popularity of our hosted data solution CloudConnect. With HMRC’s much-vaunted MTD policies in flux, the speed that MTD-ready software comes on-stream may be slower but that hasn’t stopped us from continuing to develop TaxCalc MTD Cashbooks and Business Tax. We stay in close contact with HMRC and refine as we go. Even in an uncertain world, we’ll make sure our customers are as equipped as they can be.

Describe the accounting profession in 5 words or less?
Challenging, Uncertain, Opportunistic, Tech-savvy, Value-driven.

Joel Oliver, CEO of MyFirmsApp:

2017 has been a transformational year in the uptake of mobile technology.  Globally, time spent in Apps has nearly doubled over the past two years and it is expected that by 2021, more than 3 trillion hours will be spent in Apps.

Mobile Apps are now the primary channel for many of us, and it’s clear that mobile presents accountants with an unparalleled opportunity to engage directly with their customers and especially in relation to MTD. They are easy to access through an icon on the home screen; no URLs are required and they currently provide the best experience on mobile devices.

Describe the accounting profession in 5 words or less?
Professional, trustworthy, valuable, omniscient, analytical

Neil Robertson, CEO at Compleat Software:

The implications of AI and machine learning on the Finance function have become a reality delivering the most profound changes in recent history. The most significant change is the removal of paper invoices, together with all of the work, time and costs associated with them, whilst delivering far more robust capture and approval processes, built in anti-fraud, whilst delivering real time suppliers information to the rest of the business. These applications remove up to 80% of the accounts payable function – permanently, and can be delivered in less than a day. Finance managers can no longer justify their archaic paper processes.

Describe the accounting profession in 5 words or less?
The spectrum: Archaic to Empowering

James Ashford, author of Selling To Serve & founder of GoProposal:

With all the rising technology that’s now available for accountancy firms, it’s easy to think that this is designed to distance us from our clients. But that’s the opposite of what systemization and automation is designed to do. And what I’m seeing in our firm and with many other firms, is that it is enabling them to build deeper, more meaningful relationships with their clients. First and foremost, we are in the PEOPLE business.

And 2017 for me, has been all about connecting more deeply with our clients, building stronger relationship and giving them even more value.

Describe the accounting profession in 5 words or less?
We’re In The People Business

Mark Lee, speaker, mentor & debunker for accountants:

I recall thinking that almost every theatre at Accountex London featured sessions focused on MTD. Some speakers focused on changes to compliance rules; others addressed the equally important impact on the work accountants do for small business clients and the fees they’ll charge in the future. Fortunately the introduction of MTD has been deferred so everyone has more time to prepare. For the seventh year running there was also plenty of activity around the large stands promoting online bookkeeping software. I think we are at last reaching a tipping point here. And MTD is proving to be a great incentive.

Describe the accounting profession in 5 words or less?
Worried about impact of MTD
OR: Increasingly embracing cloud bookkeeping

Carl Reader, small business advisor & author of The Startup Coach & The Franchising Handbook*:

For me, the biggest thing is the shift towards AI becoming a reality. Tools such as Quickbooks Assistant, and the work that is being done with many of the new apps, shows that the role of today’s accountant is changing rapidly.

Describe the accounting profession in 5 words or less?
Changing. Quicker than ever before.

Chris Hooper, accountancy futurist & CEO of Accodex*:

I think we’ve come full circle and we’re back on the importance of people and communications. No matter how automated this profession becomes, you’ll never replace the relationship a business owner has with their accountant.

The proliferation of cloud technology continues, and the drum of progress is beating faster. I have seen some exciting developments coming from software vendors, the most exciting for me has been 3D data visualization in Augmented/Virtual Reality. Realistically this technology will take at least ten years to go mainstream.

Describe the accounting profession in 5 words or less?
Constantly evolving

Amy Roberts, senior business development manager, Spotcap:

We’ve spent a lot of time travelling in 2017 and met many accountants all over the country to find out more about the financing needs of their clients. London is a great hub, but we have also experienced great traction in and around Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds, as well as Scotland. It was great to see that accountants are very open to learn more about alternative financing options outside of the more traditional landscape and how Spotcap can help them serve their clients better.

Looking back, there were three themes which stood out in conversations: the accountants’ curiosity to use technology to streamline their work processes, the need to diversify their offering to assist clients in raising finance and the continued importance of personal relationships.

Describe the accounting profession in 5 words or less?
Trustworthy, Problem solver, Client centric, Great attention to detail


Accountex Summit North is the new, free-to-attend, one day accounting conference and exhibition coming to Manchester Central on 6 March 2018. Places are limited, and all registrations will be verified and confirmed.  To apply for a delegate ticket, please visit www.accountexsummitnorth.co.uk.

*Speaking at Accountex London.

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