Accountex summit Manchester 2023

Accountex has always been a favourite on the conference circuit for me. I’ve attended both the London and Manchester events in the past and this year Accountex Manchester grabbed my attention.

My main focus is usually visiting the stands for new software that might help either us as a practice or one of our clients and meeting up with peers to network and put the world to rights. This year was no different but in addition I thought I’d make the most of the seminars, and boy was I glad I did.

But first, what a surprise it was to walk straight through the door to the friendly face of Tracey Curtis? Tracey and I have been working together on a project for the last 10 months, but neither of us knew the other was going to be at the event. We live in different cities, so it was a real treat to finally meet face to face instead of over a computer screen!

Michelle from VABS and Tracey Curtis

The first session on my list was all about personal branding. You know that feeling when you watch someone talking to an audience and you think “that could be me they’re talking to”? Almost everything Rachel Harris said struck a chord. My main takeaway from the session was that making content relevant to our audience is more important than the fear you feel from creating it. And don’t be too focussed on the output, it’s more important to focus on adding value.

Rachel Harris accountant_she

Next, I headed to the aptly named session “I’m an accountant, get me out of here!”, in which Bev Flanagan spoke about her selling her practice to Johann Goree. I’ve crossed paths with both Bev and Johann in the past and more recently had a call with Johann taking advice on acquisition (yes, we’re looking to purchase if you know anyone selling…). It was nice to hear from both sides what was important.

Bev Flanagan BFF

I popped by a few of the exhibits between sessions and as you would expect I had to go to the Xero stand. As I was there, I decided to ask if they could check when I signed up to be a partner. Can you believe it’s been over 13 years? What a journey it’s been. Anyway, I stopped and chatted for so long I was late to the next session – Secret Diaries for bookkeepers: What accountants don’t know about bookkeeping. By that point it was standing room only, but I was so far back I couldn’t really hear and bailed out (sorry Zoe & Jo!).

Next on my agenda was a panel discussion on using social media to grow your practice.  I’m not sure I learnt anything new, but it was still a valuable session and reminded me of things I used to do but have fallen away from. We get busy, life and work get in the way and social media takes a back seat. I came away from the session with a refreshed approach, so hopefully you’ll see more from us online in the near future.

Beyond ChatGPT was next on the agenda. I have to be honest – this session was a bit of a disappointment. The sound quality wasn’t great either which didn’t help. As expected, the general consensus is AI is far from perfect but does have its uses.

Change of plan next. I had intended to stay for the session on growing your practice, but switched to the Mergers & Acquisitions session instead. Five minutes in and I thought I’d made the wrong decision, but then it warmed up and there were lots of great learnings and takeaways. I’m glad I stayed for it all.

I left before the last session as it’s a long drive back to Glasgow and I wanted to miss the rush hour traffic leaving Manchester. The one thing I’d say about this event is how good it feels to be back attending these things face to face. I bumped into so many people I know and had some great conversations and catchups. I actually wish the event was spread over two days, because many of the sessions I wanted to attend overlapped. I wonder if it would be an option to record the sessions and have them available to participants after the show?

Accountex…you delivered everything I was looking for and more. See you next year.