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Our take on the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers Summit 2016

This weekend we had the distinct pleasure of attending the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers Summit at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London.

It’s a bit of a trip for us – travelling to and from Glasgow took almost 10 hours – but I can assure you it was well worth it!

The ICB really listened to members’ feedback from last year and made the event bigger and better, tacking on a whole day of varied workshops.

Day one – Workshops, catching up with contacts (and a glass or two of bubbly!)

We kicked off Sunday morning with Avalara’s presentation on VAT and EU Compliance. It’s a tricky topic at times and there’s plenty of things to take into account when working with clients who buy and provide goods and services abroad. If you think you could do with some expert advice on the matter we’d definitely recommend checking out their webinars here.

Jane Aylwin then gave us some real food for thought in her Power of Systems workshop. It was encouraging stuff, as we definitely have systems in place (for pretty much everything!). However, we were inspired to tighten our processes and tidy things up – we even made a start this morning!

Later in the day we heard Ray Cross talk about common Anti Money Laundering scenarios and how to handle them. As bookkeepers we have to be so careful to be compliant. We must always understand exactly what’s required of us in every AML eventuality so it was certainly advantageous to have an expert on hand to chat through everything with us.

Lastly, BrightHR presented a workshop centred around building better relationships with clients. Tim Brown is a fantastic speaker with plenty of insight. He got us to thinking about what makes our offering special and how we provide for our clients beyond just bookkeeping.

All this was followed up by a champagne reception (thanks Sage!) and a good chat with our bookkeeping buddies (from Scotland and further afield).

Day two – Taxes, inspiration (and free pens!)

Jennifer Warawa’s keynote speech at the ICB summit last year was just fantastic, so we couldn’t be happier that she took time out of her busy schedule to speak at the 2016 summit. It’s so lovely to hear her sharing and celebrating the view that bookkeeping is constantly evolving. We’ve been using cloud software since we started out 6 years ago and also make use of apps like Datamolino, so automation has never been a scary word for us. It’s all about harnessing the power of technology and using it to your advantage, making things easier in house AND keeping the clients happy. It was refreshing to listen to such positivity while getting a sense of how we can be indispensable to clients.

What a lovely surprise to have Tricia Stewart, of the original ‘Calendar Girls’ speak to us too. A hilarious, touching story and a bit of light relief after all the talk of tax!

Speaking of tax, Making Tax Digital seemed to be the theme of the day, with quite a few speakers touching on both MTD and the importance of moving your clients onto cloud software. We’ve always offered migration to cloud accounting as a service, so in a sense there’s nothing new for us there. However it will certainly be interesting to see where HMRC land on issues such as the cut off point which leaves businesses outwith the scope of MTD. It’s currently sitting at £10K, but this along with some other salient MTD regulations are subject to change.

We also took time during the day to visit the exhibitors – 20 more than last year! We got technical with our questions for Quickbooks and found BrightHR pretty fascinating.

This year ICB, at the members’ request, brought in a panel of ICB Bookkeepers to chat about common issues and answer some audience questions. The panel was made up of 4 practice owners with multiple staff and once former banker who had recently struck out on his own. Whilst it was certainly insightful, perhaps next year we could have a little more diversity? We would have been so interested to hear the different challenges facing practitioners with employees, sole traders, subcontractors, students and employees across the country.

Gary Carter closed out the night and, while many headed off to the ICB dinner, we made our way back to Euston station for the train home.

What a wonderful time we had – the ICB really pulled it out of the bag with lots to learn, lots to inspire and a heck of a lot of free pens. Our only real complaint? We didn’t win the Smart Car! Ah well, there’s always next year…