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Are Bookkeeping Conferences a Waste of Time?

So far this year, I’ve attended 3 all-day bookkeeping conferences/seminars (and it’s only April!). I’ve attended each one hoping to come away with more knowledge, more skills and more business insights. While I certainly did pick up a few tidbits here and there, in general, I came home feeling like I had really just wasted my time. Don’t get me wrong, the organisers of these events do a wonderful job; putting events like these together is no easy feat by any means and as such, I have great respect for them! However, I’m starting to think that my time would be better spent attending one-day technical training seminars in which I could improve upon the skills and knowledge I already have as a BAS Agent. Conferences have their place that is certain, but at the end of the day, are they really benefiting us as BAS Agents and accounting professionals? Are we really actually learning anything useful at conferences? I for one will be looking for specific technical training in the near future in lieu of attending conferences next year. It would be great if some of the bookkeeping associations would provide this sort of training to us rather than putting all of their resources into one annual conference. Just my two cents worth!

What do you think? Are conferences beneficial to you as an accounting professional? Do you think you need more technical education as a BAS Agent?

  • Hi Louise

    I certainly agree with your sentiments, and have become a lot more discerning when choosing what events I now attend. They have to provide me with a level of professional development, and teach me or show me something I haven’t seen or heard before, or provide networking opportunities that have the potential to provide tangible benefits.

    I am over attending conferences and presentations, where I am being “sold to” [especially where there is a fee to attend and the content is a re-hash of information that is in the public domain], under the guise of Professional Development.

    Something that gives me CPE is always good, as is something where my skill set is enhanced, or I have the opportunity to get actively involved in great discussions on bookkeeping and the bookkeeping industry. Value for me is about quality information exchange, not about being given the same information about the same thing as was presented at the same conference last year.

    • I totally agree Cassandra. I’m now looking for education opportunities that will improve my skill level & knowledge. We have to be across so much varied information as BAS Agents and I don’t think that we’re going to get the education we need from attending an annual conference (or three!). Thanks for commenting.

  • I think I have to agree with you Louise. I’ve found this year that I’m not getting as much out of the conferences as I did in the past. I also feel that I’ve ‘moved beyond’ the level they are talking about so really, it’s just a waste of time. I’d much rather invest the money and time into doing more specific training to increase my skills.

    • Yes, as I said to Cassandra, I’m actively looking for training days or seminars at the moment that I can attend to improve my skill-set and knowledge. I just want to know the facts – the techy stuff! Our time is so valuable and if I have to give up whole days to attend an event etc., I want to ensure that I’ve really benefited from doing so and not just wasted my time.

  • You have raised a very good point Louise.
    Like you, I always gain something beneficial from an educational conference and enjoy listening/networking with other bookkeepers, but it’s the technical solutions available today that capture my attention. I want more solid technical knowledge to embrace these solutions as well as understand and identify the right cloud/software combinations for business types.
    I would definitely attend CPE technical conferences over educational to improve my skills.

    • Glad to hear I’m not the only one who thinks like this! Thanks for the comment Kim.

  • I absolutely agree with you. Conferences and technical education
    are both great ways to learn something new. But I still prefer technical
    education than attending conference. Technical education seems easy to
    comprehend and more fun than listening all day to conference. Technical education
    seems more on the interactive side than conference.

    Accounting-And-Bookkeeping-Tips.com

    • Thanks Jelly. It seems most of us think conferences aren’t the best use of our time. I wonder if any of the bookkeeping associations are listening!

  • I agree. The conferences are always well run, but they go over similar content from year to year to year. I am getting far more value from returning to the classroom and upskilling … and mentally far more engaged. I would like to see sessions that focus on the technical stuff rather than the fluff.

  • Thanks Mary-Clare. I would much prefer to attend technical classes as well because I need to ensure what little time I have is used sensibly. I don’t have time to spend all day at a conference that sprouts out “fluff” as you so adequately put it!

  • I delivered a technical session at the Xerocon Sydney conference – was most chuffed to deliver multi-currency – which is really important and never covered 🙂

    • That would have been a great session Heather – good on you! I would go to more conferences if more technical stuff was provided. Instead all you seem to get is “blah, blah, blah, I’ve heard it all before” kind of stuff or things you can easily Google to find out from the comfort of your office. There’s rarely anything new! Conference organisers need to think outside the box and offer attendees tools that they can take home and actively use in their businesses.