Like the rising and setting of the sun, Accountex is upon us again.
Well, not quite like the sun, as last year it was in November and this year it’s in September. Also it moved to Boston from Las Vegas.
Regardless of when it kicks off, Accountex is my favorite conference of the year.
We’ve got great speakers, excellent sessions, and the best accounting technology expo floor you’re going to find. Sorry, I get fired up before these things every year.
Today, I’m going to tell you what I’m on the lookout for and lay out the sessions I’m most excited for.
4 accounting trends to watch for at Accountex 2017
Trends in accounting fall into one of two buckets:
- Those that are so obvious it’s hard to believe they’re “trends” and not just “the way things are done.”
- Those that are so niche, they don’t seem important until they suddenly become very important.
I prefer to keep an eye on the second, but I usually spend more time watching the slow progression of the former.
1. The cloud
The premier, “How is this still a trend?” issue, moving accounting to the cloud has been a long time coming.
Due to security concerns, holdover fears, and just general inertia, accounting has yet to make a major move into the cloud. It’s slow growth every year, and every year there’s some excellent new reason to move to the cloud.
Two years ago it was mobile access. Last year it was workflow automation. Who knows what this year’s reason to be in the cloud will be. I’m more interested to see how far we’ve come along.
Accountex for all your cloud concerns—or at least, my cloud concernsAccountex 2017 is a good chance to see how things have worked out over the last year.
2. Value pricing
Walking the line between obvious and niche trends is value-based pricing. This billing system for accountants is part of the move the whole industry is taking from glorified calculator to consultant.
As a trend, value pricing is obvious—if contentious —to everyone in the accounting industry and completely unknown outside it. Ask your small business owning friend how they pay their accountant: “I pay them when they do my books.”
Value pricing is based on the idea that the real value of an accountant isn’t the time they spend filling out IRS forms, it’s the insight they give you into your own business.
There are plenty of talks—see the list below—on pricing and I’m excited to see what everyone’s current take on it is.
3. Inventory management
Niche. At best. Inventory management has been an afterthought—if that—for years. Even brands that offer it usually don’t have a universally good option. Maybe it works offline, but the cloud implementation is rough.
Inventory management is deadly important for small businesses that manage a lot of stuff. Keeping an eye on costs, profits, and even locations can be the difference between making a bundle and losing your shirt. Tying your inventory into your accounting is the best way to watch those issues.
As a result of the general lack of first-party solutions, a lot of third-party players are stepping up to fill the gap. FishBowl has been the go-to solution for a lot of users, and it has stellar reviews. Still, I think this is a feature that needs to be addressed more directly at some point.
Charlie Russell, making it look easy
4. Practice management
Another niche trend. I spend a lot of time thinking about small businesses and their accounting needs, but I rarely get a chance to see how life on the front lines is being lived. There are plenty of practice management software options and changing trends swirling out there, and Accountex is a great place to hear about them.
Accounting practices are evolving all the time—especially as they take on new tech and pricing systems. Staffing, management, and marketing play a huge role in how a business performs, but those discussions rarely bubble up to the public.
This goes back to the idea that the shape of a business determines how it does business. By better understanding what accounting firms are working on everyday, I can better understand the challenges they face and the actions they’re likely to take.
3 sessions I will 100% be attending
There are a lot of options at Accountex, and based on what I see the first day, I’ll almost certainly change what I go to the next. That said, there are a few sessions I can’t imagine passing up.
Marnie Stretch is taking on one of the hardest parts of value pricing—talking to people about it. One of the reasons value has taken so long to catch on is the conversation is one no one wants to have.
“Remember how I’ve been charging you $1,500 every year for your taxes? Yeah, I’m not doing that anymore.”
I’m interested in how Stretch takes this on, but equally interested in what sorts of questions come from a potentially skeptical audience. Stretch is well qualified to give the talk, and she knows her way around accounting tech, as well. Should be fun.
A panel of excellent speakers is hard to pass up. This one features Misty Megia, Rachel Fisch, Donny Shimamoto, and Scott Scharf. Megia, the head of accounting programs at TSheets, has been a huge player in the accounting tech world for years and was named one of the “Most Powerful Women in Accounting” in 2015.
Fisch has been in the industry for 20 years and Scharf’s been around for 30. Shimamoto is the managing director at IntrapriseTechKnowlogies. Together, they’re addressing how you add new tech to your business.
As I said above re: the cloud, adoption is often slow due to lots of historical mental and data baggage. I’m interested to see how the panel finds ways to alleviate those hurdles—haha, Mixed Metaphor Friday. Bring on the long weekend.
Ted Delgado, controller director for Hershey North America, is taking on strategy, one of my favorite topics. On top of that, he’s talking strategy from a financial viewpoint, bringing in the role financial models and other tools play in the strategy process.
I will totally eat a fistful of kisses
This should be a great session for those value pricing folks, too. Delgado should be—directly or indirectly—giving them all sorts of ammunition for their next value conversations. Come watch for some clear examples of how a business can plot its course more effectively when it has a good grasp on its finances.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t also excited about the potential for free chocolate.
See you there?
If you’re going to be at Accountex 2017, let me know. I’d love to grab a coffee and talk about the trends you’re seeing in tech or in the day-to-day of accounting. Feel free to shoot me an email and we’ll set up some time.
What are you looking forward to most? Drop a line in the comments and let me know. Or, check out my rundown from last year’s event.