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ICB Conference 2016: What I liked. What I didn’t like.

Last week, my partner in crime Tash Hilton and I attended the annual ICB  Conference (Institute of Certified Bookkeepers) at the Melbourne Park Function Centre (aka, the Tennis Centre). Here’s a little bit about what I liked about it and also what I didn’t like about it……..

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Melb Park Function Centre

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We’ve arrived…….

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The conference began as it always does with the grabbing of the all-important coffee and tea! We also had time to catch up with other bookkeepers whom we normally only “see” on Facebook or the like – always a plus at these events.

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Then it was down to business……….

PART ONE: KEYNOTE SPEECH BY MATTHEW ADDISON & RICK VAN DYK

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Matthew Addison, Executive Director

Matthew is the Executive Director of ICB Australia and is a familiar face to most bookkeepers and BAS Agents. His opening speech covered off various aspects of what is changing in the world of bookkeeping such as:

Single touch payroll | The BAS Agents’ Portal status dashboard | MyGov | Changes to Auskey | Simplifying the BAS and GST | Director payments & obligations | Superstream | Debt collecting | eSignatures | Software dashboards

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What I liked: Hearing that the ATO is looking at simplifying the BAS and GST reporting – thank heavens!

What I didn’t like: I would have liked a session dedicated to the “Director payments & obligations” on its own rather than just the quick overview we were given. Yes, yes I know I can read about it in the manual we were given to take home, but I feel this is an area that all bookkeepers deal with daily and it would have been good to delve into it more deeply on the day.

 

Next up was General Manager, Rick Van Dyk. Rick spoke about an accounting firm that had recently been audited by Fairwork and emphasised how important it is for all bookkeepers involved in client payroll to ensure everything is in writing just in case it all goes pear-shaped. He made a good point that as well as having clear expectations in your engagement letter with clients regarding your involvement with payroll, it is also important to have an “exit letter” ready to use if you find yourself unable to continue to assist a client when those expectations are threatened. Nice one Rick! Rick finished by introducing the conference partners who were waiting for our attention in the foyer. These included:

Reckon | IME Insurance Brokers | GovReports | Intuit QuickBooks Online | Sage | Xero | Workforce Guardian | Tsheets

What I liked: The idea about the “exit letter” was new to me. I haven’t really thought about it before but I like it and will be using (stealing) it!

What I didn’t like: No representation by Saasu – where were you guys???

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Rick Van Dyk, General Manager

 

PART TWO: GETTING TECHNICAL – BUYING & SELLING A BUFB_IMG_1457414952213SINESS BY CHRIS McCOMB

Chris McComb, pictured here, is a technical resources and support person for ICB Australia. Her presentation was centred around the bookkeeping aspects of buying and/or selling a business. She spoke about the types of business sales, the steps to follow for the sale or purchase, sales between associated and non- associated entities, contracts, what happens to employees, what happens to employees’ leave entitlements and also the sale of a going concern.

What I liked: The supply of checklists in the manual we were given if/when we have to assist clients who may buy/sell a business – super valuable!

What I didn’t like: I felt that the presentation while very thorough and clear, would have been of more value to bookkeepers if more specific examples of bookkeeping journals to enter and what to include in these journals were provided. The information was excellent but is of little value if we don’t know what to do with it from a bookkeeping perspective! #justmytwocentsworth

 

PART THREE: FAIR WORK MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS BY DAVID BATES

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David Bates, Workforce Guardian

David Bates is a Workforce Guardian representative. WG is an online human resources (HR) advice bureau. The thing that struck me about David’s presentation was that I think he missed his calling! He was sooooo funny! Me-thinks he would have made a pretty good stand-up comedian but hey, that’s just me! On a more serious side, David covered the basics of employment laws (not a very funny topic but he managed to make it so!). He supplied us with a HR compliance list to use with clients (awesome) and also a new employee checklist – gold!

One thing that David said (not exactly his words btw), was that Fair Work information is not 100% dependable. I was a bit shocked by that because I refer to their website frequently for help and/or call them. David’s advice here was that we should be contacting industry-specific HR departments when searching for answers as these departments have a greater understanding of their own HR requirements. Fair Work on the other hand, can only provide general advice which may or may not be helpful.

David finished his talk by reiterating what Rick said earlier – all advice or decisions made on behalf our clients need to be in writing. If it isn’t, it just simply doesn’t exist #sotrue.

A slide from David’s presentation that rings home true to all bookkeepers involved in client payroll (and don’t we know it!):

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What I liked: David managed to make a relatively boring topic very enjoyable – not an easy feat – well done David!

What I didn’t like: Hearing that Fair Work isn’t the bees knees. Doesn’t leave bookkeepers in a very good place. Where do we get information for our clients that we can depend on? Hang on, maybe if we call David at Workforce Guardian for help ………..mmmmm……I’m on to you David Bates lol!

 

PART FOUR: LUNCH

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What I liked: Everything – we are talking about food after all (my most favourite thing after red wine!). Nice job Tennis Centre staff – this ’twas awesome. So delicious and something for everyone – so good!

What I didn’t like: Not applicable – see above!

 

PART FIVE: PRACTICE MANAGEMENT BY AMANDA LINTON

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Amanda Linton, Company Director

Amanda Linton took us through the many-varied aspects of managing a bookkeeping business. She spoke about the need to have a business plan, a financial management plan and a marketing plan. She covered workflows, systems and procedures and how these are integral to the running any successful business. Other topics discussed included managing clients, especially the difficult ones and also managing staff. A lot of information was covered here of which I won’t go into in depth – suffice to say: “you had to be there”!

Amanda also took us through her personal bookkeeping business journey which was very insightful.

What I liked: Hearing that a business plan doesn’t need to be any longer than 4 pages – what a relief! Those things can turn into mini novels so 4 pages is definitely doable!

What I didn’t like: I love hearing from Amanda and her story, don’t get me wrong here but I would also like to hear from other bookkeepers and their stories too in future. Perhaps ICB can look at putting a panel of bookkeepers together on stage who share their stories and then perhaps take questions from the audience. Just an idea guys!

 

PART SIX: PRESENTATIONS

The conference ended on a happy note, with five and ten year members receiving awards. I spy two lovely bookkeepers in that list who belong to our local Geelong ICB Network group – Heather Shaw and Katrina Spinazzola. These lovelies can be seen in the photo below standing next to each other, left front. Good work girls!

 

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Heather Shaw also received an award for achieving Fellow status – she’s a bit of a star! Congratulations Heather!

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CONCLUSION:

And so ended another fantastic conference by ICB. We were presented with a lot of information as per usual – perhaps too much to absorb in one day, but that’s where the manual we were given comes into play. It’s now up to us to review the relevant data and put it into practice in our firms. Overall, I enjoyed the conference and might go so far as to say that it was perhaps, the best one so far. The only thing that I could suggest as an improvement is perhaps change the format of the overall conference – while the information presented varies, the format is always the same which can get a bit predicable but having said that, I think things can only improve from here ICB and I look forward to the next one guys. Thanks for all of your hard work in putting this conference together – bookkeepers across the land, especially this one, are very grateful. ?