What Are Your ‘Live’ Plans This Year?

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I try to make it a point every year that there’s not a global pandemic, to reiterate the importance of attending live events for accountants. While they’re not all for everyone, the idea of being among your colleagues, sharing thoughts, ideas, pains and yeah getting some CPE in, has proved invaluable in the best and worst of times.

There’s also no question that the profession is at an inflection point, with generational, technological, and functional gaps needing to be bridged. I’ve long said that no growth can happen by resisting or at least considering processes and methods that differ from the ones you are “comfortable” with. Moreover, no one attends a live event with the intent of staying the same.

Vendors and accountants alike recognize this need and there’s even been a new crop of live events to attend. It’s time some of you to get uncomfortable, go live, and share and learn from others in the profession. You may even find something you can actually use and implement before the year is through.

While there are a solid dozen or so live events for accountants this year, I want to call out some of the newer ones and those that have evolved that could be a difference maker in your professional life.

So, before you dive too deeply into tax season/busy season/whatever you’re calling this time of year, strongly consider attending at least One of these this year.

THE NEW ONES

Accounting Today’s ‘Firm Growth Forum’ (San Diego, May 21-22)

Entering its sophomore year, this event brought to you by industry veterans Accounting Today, is very much what the title suggests. If you are a firm leader or decision maker that has any interest in growth of any fashion, be it through M&A, succession, staffing, new services like CAS or other specialty offerings then this is where you should be.

Sessions are designed to give you strategies and inspiration for where you may already be headed, or planning to, in seeing your firm as a business that needs to evolve to both compete and thrive in the current environment and beyond. Think mostly mid-larger CPA firms, or those on a progressive trajectory looking to validate their paths, learn from and partner with a healthy combination of industry leaders and colleagues in the same or similar “boat” as you.

Also the relatively intimate nature (approx. 300+ attendees expected) will ensure maximization of networking with speakers, colleagues and vendors that can legitimately help you on your growth path, whatever it may be.

#TaxTwitterRetreat (Chicago, July 18-20)

While details are still pending, what needs to be noted here is that this is an event that was literally born out of pure need for community and connection among tax professionals on Twitter/X.

Last year, the grassroots effort gave rise to the inaugural event in Denver last summer, and organizers and volunteers are furiously putting together (during tax season, mind you!) the agenda and finer details for its second year.

This time around, it will be in the Chicago area and, like last year, be entirely focused on issues and conversations that tax pros truly need to feel confident, learn about the impact of certain tax code changes, and just “be” around thought leaders and like-minded practitioners who clearly need the support and insights of their colleagues.

I can’t think of a better reason, as an Enrolled Agent or CPA why you would not want to attend, help, and make the most of your time away from the office. This event and location dovetail well into the next, must-attend conference of 2024…

Tri-Merit Group’s ‘Bridging the Gap’ (Rosemont, Ill. July 22-24)

Like some of the aforementioned, this event grew out of pure need. The need to have speakers and presenters who don’t speak over you, but To you, because many of them Are you.

They are (mostly) small-midsized firm owners and decision makers who have struggled, learned, tried the uncomfortable and failed, came out the other side better for the experience or found some level of success and genuinely want to share. And they need to be around attendees who are also like themselves; bookkeepers and tax pros who just want to not only feel like they are moving in the right direction, but also safe to laugh, cry, shout and just be their authentic selves.

Yet another event now in its second year, Tri-Merit Group, and its co-founder Randy Crabtree, CPA and his well-known podcast The Unique CPA have created a mission-centric event that focuses on the well being of the accountant, as well as other core issues that need to be addressed in order for this profession to move forward: life/work balance, diversity and inclusion, generational issues, and the technological confidence to address efficiencies and evolving business needs.

More event details to come on the site but if it’s anything like last year, you are truly in for a treat!

Xerocon US (Nashville, Aug 14-15)

OK this isn’t a “new” event, per se but it does not happen every year, not in some time. Xero has mostly been on the path of hosting “global” events (and why not, they are a global company) in the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and this year back in the US, where it has not been since 2022.

The reason I call out Xerocon is, similar to the others, it tends to attract a more forward-minded accountant. Those truly looking for something “different” and, again, the chance to mingle and share ideas with similar firm leaders and decision makers.

I’ve often referred to Xero as the “Apple” of the business and accounting technology world, and it shows in their approach. Like Apple is not trying to be Microsoft, Xero isn’t trying to be like Intuit or any of its global competitors. For anyone that’s used their core platform, you know it’s not like QuickBooks or anything similar.

While it’s not for everyone, it is just the right amount of “different” many accounting professionals and small business clients are looking for, and they host an event with that in mind.

Honorable Mentions

I wanted to call these out for basically existing. Much like TaxTwitter Retreat, these were grassroots efforts to keep an intimate community of accountants and vendors together, while focused on the real issues that impact accounting professionals regularly. So, major kudos to Accounting Salon (event May 13-14, Charleston, SC) and Thriveal and its ‘Deeper Weekend'(event Oct. 23-25, Greenville, SC) for existing.

MORE TO CONSIDER

Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the many other events that have been tried and true, or worth another look. No matter where you decide to attend this year, always know what your goal is in doing so and you’ll always make the most of it. Some are larger than others, some may have less CPE to offer but if you find your people and know your purpose, it will be worth the investment of time and money to go.

As of this writing, here’s what’s out there to consider:

Sage Transform 2024 (Las Vegas, February 26-29)

Universal Accounting Center‘s GrowCon (Jacksonville, Fla. May 6-7)

AICPA’s Engage (Las Vegas, June 3-6)

Scaling New Heights (Orlando, June 16-19)

CCH Connections (Las Vegas, Oct. 20-24)

SYNERGY 2024 (Orlando, Nov 10-13)

Digital CPA 2024 (Denver, Dec. 8-11)

Still TBD:

QuickBooks Connect 2024(likely Las Vegas Nov 2024)

ExpensiCon(TBD, last year was in Puglia, Italy)

Botkeeper AI Unchained (Sept/Oct?)

Western CPE’s New Money Summit (Dec?)

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