Despite my 20 years in finance, I never assume I’ve learnt enough. Working with cloud-based software, I understand industry development is constant. Technology moves at a rapid pace and keeping up to date is crucial. Therefore, I know the connections I make are essential to share information and support others in the industry.
Accountex London: learning and development
Last month, I attended Accountex London to catch-up with providers I work with and meet those who might offer something new. The conference took place across two days at ExCeL. I went along with Debbie Whitaker from my sister company, Not Just Numbers. We attended talks held across eight lecture theatres, visited exhibition stands and chatted to software providers: both those we work with and those new to us.
A large part of attending a conference is, of course, listening to some impressive speakers. I loved hearing Hannah Dawson, CEO and founder of Futrli tell us about the new platform they’re developing to complement their forecasting software and it was brilliant to listen to our friend and business associate Rhona Graham of Veritas VAT talk about upcoming changes to VAT. It’s essential to stay up-to-date with industry developments and there’s no better way to do that than hearing from such motivational speakers.
Catching-up: strong connections and best practice
Continuous learning is essential. However, what Accountex delivered this year went beyond increasing my knowledge. The event meant I could reconnect with some familiar faces from across the world of accountancy and finance. I spent time catching up with old colleagues and new contacts, as well as meeting up with others in my network. It’s always valuable to meet other accountants and FDs. Together, we chat about what we’re doing, which systems we’re using and which best practice methods we’re adopting.
Unexpected connections: growing my network
Debbie and I were invited to two evening events, one of which was Receipt Bank’s party. Receipt Bank partner with Xero, the cloud accounting software we champion. The party was held at the Sunborn Hotel: a stunning, yacht-based spa hotel. Whilst there, we found ourselves chatting in a group that included a group of managers from PKF Littlejohn (chartered accountants based in Canary Wharf) and four young lads who’d travelled from Herefordshire for Accountex. The lads didn’t have industry roles: in fact, they were still at school. However, they booked their event tickets as they were looking for AAT opportunities. They knew that mingling with the right people could help them get there.
I was incredibly impressed with their commitment and resolve. Their presence alone made their drive and determination to succeed clear and their enthusiasm for the accountancy profession was evident in the connections they were keen to make. We exchanged business cards. One sent his CV across to Not Just an FD and Not Just Numbers. Though neither of our companies had vacancies, we connected on LinkedIn and understand that, at time of writing, all four students had interviews with London-based accountancy firms, including PKF Littlejohn.
Strong connections can be developed at any time and these four students are testament to that. It proves that we should never dismiss any opportunities that may come our way as they may be the foundations of powerful connections for personal and professional growth. It also demonstrates the value of collaboration with those within our own industry: we can learn from them, support them and develop connections to pass along referrals.
Keeping up to date with new software and processes is incredibly important. It helps me to ensure that I’m fully aware of industry developments and can offer the best service to my clients. Whilst I’ve learnt a great deal from Accountex this year, the conference has reinforced the importance of meaningful connections. Supporting those I work with and looking to help others where I can are deep personal values I hold. Accountex London has truly strengthened this for me.