- The 2019 Annual Joint Conference in London was attended by 360 Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand members and more than 40 members of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants.
- The conference delivered eight hours of CPD for UK-based CAs, followed by a few hours of networking.
- Sessions included technical updates on IFRS 16 and dealing with GDPR post-Brexit, as well as talks on broader accounting and management issues.
For Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) members living in the UK, the crown jewel in the CPD schedule every year is the Annual Joint Conference. The 2019 conference, held on 23 March in London, saw 360 CA ANZ members and more than 40 of our friends from the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants come together for eight solid hours of professional development and a few hours of networking afterwards.
Over the past 14 years, the hard-working Joint Conference Committee and the Local Management Team have honed each year’s Annual Joint Conference to the point where, somehow, each one seems better than the last. And this year’s was no exception.
“The opportunities from technology far outweigh the risks and will allow us to deliver new services for our clients.”
Accounting’s future or accounting’s death?
For any member who has attended previous conferences, master of ceremonies Chris O’Malley and Ross Walker, NatWest Markets’ head of UK and European Economics, are familiar faces. Walker’s economic update was as entertaining and insightful as ever. His presentation this year focused heavily on Brexit and how the ‘No Deal’ vs ‘an Extension of Article 50’ vs ‘the Possibility of Remaining’ options are poised, and the potential impact of each.
One of the hardest things for the organising committee to get right is balancing technical presentations with softer or informative ones, while taking into account the level of the delegate or the industry they work in. Over the past few years this has been addressed by running breakout sessions so members can choose what best suits their needs.
This year, delegates had the choice of a double session with management coach Matthew Davies on Radical Empathy in the Workplace with a follow-up workshop, or technical updates with Paul Gillingwater on dealing with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in a post-Brexit world followed by Getting to Grips with IFRS 16, the new lease standard.
To keep things moving after lunch, we heard from 25-year-old New Zealand wunderkind Jamie Beaton who, along with graduating Harvard University two years ahead of schedule with a double degree, has also set up and is running his own education and mentoring company, Crimson Education. Now a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, his energy and enthusiasm was clearly abundant during his presentation.
Into the home straight, before afternoon tea, Julia Penny covered Man vs Machine: the Future or Death of the Accountant. I’m glad to report that while there will be many changes to what an accountant does, with many of our basic tasks being automated, the opportunities from technology far outweigh the risks and will allow us to deliver new services for our clients.
How a determined focus overcomes failure
The last speaker of the day – our motivational speaker – is usually the biggest surprise. We have had Paralympic gold medallists, blind adventurers and England football players. But this year’s speaker, Mandy Hickson, ex-RAF jet fighter pilot, certainly sits among the best we have ever had.
From her stories of breaking through the airforce selection process (she was winning aerobatics competitions but failed the computer-based tests) to being only the second woman to fly a Tornado GR4 on the front line, Hickson had the audience in stitches. But she also showed how a determined focus can help you overcome disappointment and failure to achieve your life goals.
Her most touching anecdote illustrated the power of teams that truly bond. She related how her fellow cadets helped her pass her final flight test by converting bicycles into makeshift planes and holding after-hours drills. With their help, Hickson got through and went on to become a jet fighter pilot, even though her success meant one of the other six team members would not pass selection. It was a sacrifice for the greater good of the team.
On behalf of all the UK-based CA ANZ members, I would like to thank the Joint Conference Committee and Local Management Team for all their hard work and for the amazing event they put on. I also thank the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) for their valued assistance and contribution to this event. Lastly, I offer an invitation to all members passing through London next year to book one of the limited seats. See you there.