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If you have an interesting story to tell and would like to join our speaker panel, please contact:
Sarah Katherine Bagshaw
07701 091 664

Day 1  | Tuesday 19 March 2019

9:30 am

Registration and coffee

10:00 am

Welcome and chairman’s opening remarks


10:05 am

Keynote plenary: Our practice’s innovation/transformation journey

Two accountancy leaders (ideally a managing partner, an innovation director and an IT director/lead) will each present a fast-paced presentation looking at innovation and technology in their practice, the challenges and obstacles they have faced, how they’ve made it work and particularly how they are overcoming the challenges of getting accountants and the business on board.


10:25 am

Keynote plenary: Cooper Parry’s innovation & change journey – why people and culture trump technology and strategy

How does a 150-year old, traditional business, transform itself to become one of the fastest growing accountancy firms in the UK, the British Accountancy Awards Most Innovative firm of the year and Europe’s Best Company to work for?  We’ll tell the story of Cooper Parry’s innovation and digital journey, looking at what we’ve done with technology, automation, digital; how we lean into the psychology of change to help individuals explore, discover and show curiosity; how we encourage our people to learn, grow, innovate, find a better way; and the end of the era of IQ and the beginning of EQ.


10:50 am

Keynote plenary: A cross-sector case study on the tech and innovation challenges facing mid-market law firms – and what accountancy practices can learn from our experience


11:20 am

Your right to: have your say

Following our keynote speaker’s expert approach to change management, a Managing Partner and an IT Director come to the stage to pose the questions that most IT Partners/Directors and Managing Partners will have for our expert. We’ll also take questions from the floor and via


11:35 am

Networking break

12:00 pm

Keynote plenary: the psychology of change and change management

Digital transformation is all about the perennial problem of persuading people to change their behaviour.  What got us to where we are now won’t take us into the future.  But change is risky and uncomfortable - and most people are resistant. This session will explain why we naturally resist change and how our brains respond to the unpredictable and unexpected.  Helena will focus on five brain insights to help us understand how to get the best out of our brains and the brains of others during change.  She will also focus on the role of the subconscious, the use and impact of technology on our brains and the science of persuasion when influencing others to help them cope with the world around us.


  • Dr Helena Boschi Psychologist and educator, specialising in applied neuroscience at work
1:00 pm

Lunch and networking

2:00 pm

Facilitated round table discussions (A)

This series of hosted round table discussions (A1 – A10) will focus entirely on how other practices deal with the challenges you face.  These interactive and informal discussions follow Chatham House rules – giving you the freedom to speak your mind.  Small groups allow everyone to participate and each group feeds back, giving all attendees access to the knowledge pool.  These brainstorming sessions will give insight into your peers’ challenges and provide solutions to your own.

There will be two 40-minute sessions.

A1        Achieving an end-to-end service – how can we get disparate systems to work together in harmony?
Can we get best of breed systems to connect / communicate?
Getting best of breed systems to connect / communicate to improve efficiency in the Practice.
Andrew Yearsley, Innovation Director, Bishop Fleming

A2        GDPR one year on: what’s next?
We’ll look at some of the headaches that have emerged over GDPR in the first year, such as data breaches and how to avoid them, dealing with subject access requests and record deletion and we’ll consider how mid-tier IT systems cope with data integrity.
Sophie Parkhouse, Technical & Training Director,Albert Goodman

A3        Getting enhanced analytics and reporting from Power BI
Ben Smith, Partner, Ecovis Wingrave Yeats

A4        Integration and automation - how to deliver exciting new world solutions effectively
APIs - integration heaven or data management conundrum? Exciting new world solutions are creating new world problems.
Julie Berry, IT Partner, Saffery Champness

A5        Getting a balance between security and ease of client access
How can we secure our data without making access too “clunky” for our clients?  What are the options for data sharing with clients beyond email?
Paul Farrell, Head of IT, Mitchell Charlesworth

A6        Keeping up with permanent change
How can we make sure we take advantage of the latest tech without losing control, overloading our team and/or going down blind alleys?
Ali Jones, Partner, Sagars

A7       Artificial intelligence – threats and opportunities for accountancy practices
Andrew Guy, IT Director, French Duncan

A8        Best practice in building and validating financial models and business planning scenarios
We’ll look at delivering model build and valuation projects for clients, including referencing the new ICAEW Financial Modelling Code.
Roland Brook, Associate Director, Transactions Services, Smith & Williamson
David Lyford-Smith, Technical Manager, ICAEW

A9        Utilising cloud workspaces to connect, communicate and collaborate with clients – anytime, anywhere, on any device
James Gifford, IT Director, Old Mill


2:00 pm

Managing Partners’ stream part one – by invitation only

Managing partners will gather for discussion and conversation, with the emphasis on networking, discussion and learning among peers.

  1. Moving from compliance to advisory
    The challenges facing mid-market accountancy practices are huge.  Most of us aim to move to an advisory service in response to MTD and the commoditisation of compliance work. But do we understand exactly what we mean by “advisory”?  Do our people? What does the move to advisory services mean for our staff? For our clients? What should we be doing differently to position ourselves as trusted advisors?  What training should we provide to enable our people to become advisors?  How should we price for advisory services? Which percentage of income should we seek from advisory?  During the transition, how can we supplant compliance fees?In this facilitated panel discussion, four managing partners will discuss their steps away from compliance work and towards consultancy, acknowledging the challenges and stumbling blocks along the way.

    Paul Crichton, Managing Partner, MMG Archbold
    Lisa Leighton, Managing Partner, BHP

    Will Farnell, Director & Founder, Farnell Clarke
    Jessica Pillow, Managing Director, Pillow May

  2. Who’s in charge in mid-market accountancy?
    Equity in the firm does not equal a right to leadership – contrary to what many equity partners believe.  As managing partners, we must balance their assumption of leadership rights with the need to run our practice like a business.In this frank discussion, three managing partners will consider:
    - Is the partnership still a valid ownership model for mid-market practices?
    - What can we do to get equity partners to engage with the business as leaders and owners?
    - How can we focus the management team on driving the business forward, not just on keeping equity partners happy?-
    - How can we, as managing partners, motivate the management team to take on the risks and responsibilities that come with running the practice as a business?Ian Carlson, Managing Director, Old Mill
    Andy Minifie, Regional Chairman, Haines Watts



3:30 pm

Networking break

4:00 pm

Facilitated round table discussions (B)

This series of hosted round table discussions (B1 – B9) will focus entirely on how other firms deal with the challenges you face. These interactive and informal discussions follow Chatham House rules – giving you the freedom to speak your mind. Small groups allow everyone to participate and each group feeds back, giving all attendees access to the knowledge pool.  These brainstorming sessions will give insight into your peers’ challenges and provide solutions to your own.

There will be two 40-minute sessions.

B1        Using RPA in mid-market accountancy – a case study
Andrew Moyser, Partner, MHA MacIntyre Hudson

B2        Moving to the Cloud: How to modernise your accounting firm
We’ll hear how Morris and Young moved to the Cloud to improve the efficiency, security and performance of their underlying IT platform. We’ll look at how this has also enabled them to streamline their processes and get more out of the technology they use to run the firm.
Sandy Fyfe, Owner, Morris & Young

B3        How can we enhance the client’s experience of our systems?
What are our options for better supporting our clients digitally? And how can this improve our service? Portals and live reporting – a better experience for all.
Gordon McMullan, CIO, BKL

B4        Creating a collaborative workspace (or, can you run an accountancy practice without email?)
There must be a better way than email to chivvy projects along, identify bottlenecks and make people accountable. We’ll look at ways to get people off email and interacting more productively.
Jessica Pillow, Managing Director, Pillow May

B5        GDPR: unleash the benefits
Using GDPR as a driver for business process improvement, as a by-product of protecting client and staff data.
Richard White, CIO, Larking Gowen

B6        AI – what problems do we have that AI can solve?  What exactly can it do for our practice?
As we move out of the AI “trough of despair” and into a more realistic stage of the technology’s development, what can AI offer mid-sized practices at this stage?
Richard Anning, Head of the IT Faculty, ICAEW

B7        Extracting data from multiple, unconnected systems
We’ll share hints and tips for data extraction and integration across the practice.
Jamie Gladstone, Partner – Head of Finance & IT, Price Bailey

B8        How to drive exceptional customer service by building your niche
Customer service is your best tool for driving growth, producing referrals and glowing testimonials. So how do you take yours to the next level? Choosing a niche gives you the chance to personalise your service to the precise needs of your clients and deliver superior results for their business. Discover how you can find yours, and make it work for you.
Chris Cheeney, Director, CDC Accounting

B9        Using management reporting/ business analytics at KingstonSmith
How can we make better use of the data we hold? How can we pull data from the disparate systems we use and turn it into intelligence we can use effectively in the firm?
Jon Dawson, Partner, Kingston Smith


4:00 pm

Managing Partners’ stream part two – by invitation only

Managing partners will gather for discussion and conversation, with the emphasis on networking, discussion and learning among peers.

  1. In conversation:  Moving towards a tech-enabled consultancy business
    How can we use technology to drive innovation in our practice? To make our firms more efficient, to make it easier for our staff to work and to provide a better service for clients?  Many practices suffer from a disconnect between what technology promises and what it delivers.  As managing partners, we need an overview of what tech we have, why we have it, how disparate systems work together and what is missing. But this gap analysis is very difficult.A managing partner who has done the work will talk about his conclusions and what he’s learned along the way.

    Aynsley Damery, CEO, The Clarity Project and former CEO, Tayabali Tomlin

  2. What can we do to improve partner productivity? 
    How do you know you have a productivity gap? How can we ensure that partners spend their time on the things that will make the biggest difference to the business?  How can we close the productivity gap in our firms? Can we identify why fee-earner time doesn’t always feed through to the bottom line? How can we re-set partners’ priorities?Cathy Revis, Managing Director & Tax Director, Fiander Tovell
    Richard Kleiner, CEO, Gerald Edelman



5:30 pm

Networking break

Take a quick breather and grab a drink before joining us for the final engaging session of the day.

5:40 pm

The Samoan Circle – an Alternative panel discussion: Do we have the rights skills for data services? For advisory services?

We’ll re-convene for an informal and interactive session using the “Samoan Circle” format.  Set up in the round, delegates will gather around a central circle to eavesdrop on a conversation which will initially be between two managing partners and two IT leaders about the skills and recruitment challenges facing innovative mid-market practices.  Audience members can join in the discussion by entering the “inner discussion circle” and sitting down.

We’ll address the questions that are keeping accountancy leaders up at night:

  1. Are we recruiting the right people to deliver tech-enabled advisory services? Should we be hiring accountants, or technologist, or a hybrid?
  2. Is the problem that technology tools aren’t designed for accountants?
  3. Do we (why do we) need data scientists to use data analytics tools?
  4. Should we aim to recruit / train tech-enabled accountants rather than put IT and accountants into separate silos?
  5. How can we make accountants good users of technology? Or should we just hire IT graduates and teach them to use accounting software?

The working principles of the Samoan Circle are:

  • Only those in the inner circle may speak, until prompted to retire
  • You can enter the inner circle at any time if you want to join the discussion
  • You must finish your point and leave the inner circle when prompted by the facilitator

The bar is open, awaits your questions / comments and we hope you’ll join in the conversation.



6:20 pm

Chairman’s closing remarks and end of day one


7:30 pm

Drinks reception

Sponsored by:

8:00 pm

Dinner and entertainment followed by overnight stay

Day 2 | Wednesday 20 March 2019

9:15 am

Morning and coffee

9:45 am

Chairman’s welcome and opening remarks


10:00 am

Keynote Panel: Vendor technology development and thought leadership

We’ll bring together senior product development leaders from key technology vendors to ask what concepts their development teams are working on and what they think the future holds for the sector.

Topics addressed will also include:
- Practices struggle to extract data from unconnected systems.  How can vendors work together to help practices connect disparate accountancy systems?
- what can vendors do to help practices get full functionality out of their systems?
- how close are vendors to offering truly cloud-based services? To software-as-a-service?
- what are vendors doing to mitigate the risks of software-as-a-service?
- how are vendors working towards MTD – in the absence of clear guidance from HMRC?
- do vendors have any appetite for opening up their platforms to smaller developers through APIs?


10:45 am

Our data analytics strategy and how we have used data to develop services for our clients

- looking inwards to make the most of our own practice data
- identifying external opportunities to develop services for our clients
- case studies and demonstrations showing our strategy in practice


  • Reuben Barry Director & Head of Data Analytics - Ecovis Wingrave Yeats
11:10 am

Networking break

11:40 am

Turning data into revenue – the Microsoft perspective on what data can offer accounting practices and how to make the most of it using AI, cognitive services and machine learning

- data is the source, accountants are the custodians, technical advances provide the leverage to drive new opportunities
- how can practices use data to build better services for clients
- how Microsoft tools, including Outlook, can play a pivotal role in generating revenue from data


12:00 pm

Turning data into revenue – an accounting practice’s perspective on making the most of data

Cooper Parry will examine how the practice is driving value from clients’ data and then using that insight to increase revenue for the firm.


12:20 pm

Closing keynote panel – why is data so important to accounting practices and how can practices leverage data to gain competitive advantage?

Our three speakers will be joined by two accountancy partners to take questions and to jointly consider the key questions and challenges facing practices in making the most of that data that we hold:
- How can practices prepare for a data-driven future?
- What barriers do practices typically face in making the most of data?
- How do tech giants such as Amazon manage, store and share data, and what can we learn?
- Are clients willing to pay for data analytics products and services?
- How can we oversee/ensure client permissions to use data?
- How can we stop our staff from hoarding data, to get data off laptops and into the cloud?
- Are there tools that can help us track data use within the firm?


1:30 pm

Chair’s closing remarks followed by networking lunch and close of conference


We hope to see you at the event in March.

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