At our annual conference we awarded stellar performance to 8 key firms in Australasia.

Most Efficient Accounting Business – Clifton Accountants – www.cpaaccountants.com.au

Most Innovative Accounting Business – Hansens Accountants – www.hansens.com.au

Service Excellence in an Accounting Business – Selby Watson & Co – www.selbywatson.com.au

Best Client Result in an Accounting Business – Doyle Partners – www.doylepartners.com.au

Community Contributions by an Accounting Business – Jaques Stanmore Chartered Accountants – www.jaquesstanmore.com.au

Most Valuable Player in an Accounting Business – Ravi Sharma from PJT Accountants – www.pjtaccountants.com.au

Rising Star Accounting Business – Snelleksz & Co – www.snelleksz.com.au

Accounting Business of the Year – ZJL Partners – www.zjl.com.au

Congratulations to all. Much deserved. We’re very proud of you.

Wednesday was an amazing presentation on speaking / presentation effectiveness skills by one of the worlds leaders – Joanna Martin. All day she captivated the audience with how to command an audience, be more effective in team / board meetings and lead a seminar. She also taught them how to ‘sell from stage’. Either sell product, next step or something different. She actually demonstrated by selling to the audience. The RAN TO THE SERVICE DESK to sign up for her 3 day seminar. It was an amazing sight to see Accountants running to a desk to give money. What a skill.

Thursday was the grand finale. We opened up with the legendary Paul Dunn talking about how Accountants and Entrepreneurs can be a force for good.  I have known Paul for 25 years now and was simply outstanding. My business partner then took the stage and interviewed 3 firms about their success. We call it ‘Heroes Journey’ – always a hit. After that Colin & I revealed our revolutionary product which will give an Accountant real time client data on their phone/device/laptop/desktop. A staggering 100% of firms said they would use it with around 70% of their clients. We have been working very hard to get this solution finished.

It’s done, complete, finished and ready now. I’ll put some screen shots up next week.

The conference concluded with the ‘Accountants night of all nights’ – a Rio/Carnivale inspired gala dinner. We gave out a string of awards and everyone laughed and danced the night away until the wee hours of Friday morning.  It truly was a superb finish.

Thank you to everyone who attended this years conference. Delegates, Speakers, Event partners, my business partner Colin, my wife Nat  and especially our team who worked night and day to make it a HUGE success. Thank you!

That’s the conference for another year. That’s 5 in a row – every year is better – next year is the challenge to make it better than this one!

If you attended and you read this blog please comment on your thoughts/feelings/observations or words of praise. A few snaps below! By tech guru will fix up the distortion later.

Colin & the roudy lot

Nat Brenton Ben

Rob & Paul Dunn

It’s been a very busy 2 days at my annual conference.

On Monday we had Verne Harnish (@thegrowthguy / www.gazelles.com) speak all day. He captivated the delegates the entire way through. Never before have I had some great feedback from so many people regarding a speaker I have hired. The learnings, inspiration, stories and thought provocation will change a lot of Accountants – for the better.

Monday night was my annual ‘presenters dinner’. This is where I book a private room at a top restuarant just for people on stage during the week. So we had Verne, Naomi Simson, Paul Dunn, Colin Dunn (no relation), Phil Pitt, Nat, myself + 12 Accountants for the evening. It was a hoot. We drank superb wine, ate like kings and laughed and laughed the entire night. What fun.

Tuesday morning was fun activities. We had golf, scuba diving, sailing, frisbee throwing (one of my team is a world champion), snorkelling and a variety of other fun things for the delegates. I chose the golf – which was not the smartest decision after a BIG night out the night before. The first 4 holes were most untidy!

Tuesday afternoon we had the legendary Naomi Simson (www.redballoon.com.au) speak for 90 minutes on team engagement. Naomi is a previous winner of Business woman of the year (Australia), Entrepreneur of the year and ‘best place to work’ (Australia) winner. She shared her wisdom on how she attracts and retains people.

I then took the stage and gave a candid look inside my business. Then I interviewed 4 leading Accounting firms on how they have implemented Verne Harnish’s growth ideas into their firms.

Oh, we were also joined by Freddie Mercury (and back up singers) for a couple of quick numbers to warm the group up.

More photos coming later. Here a couple of the room. It’s quite a show!

CCC Av deskCCC crowdCCC crowd 2CCC Freddie and friends

Awesome day today – after a round of golf with some clients we started our conference with nearly 400 people in attendance. My favourite photo from the cocktail party last night was when our key speaker, Verne Harnish, paid hommage to my marketing chief – Michelle Henson. Verne was intrigued how Michelle was able to marshal 20 companies to sponsor our event.

I also launched our new branding and company name – Proactive Accountants Network. We have 4 membership levels where Accounting firms around the world interact with us and get massive value for their firms and their clients.

Our plan is to take the Network around the world by licensing ‘chapters’ in countries, states & territories. On April 16 we officially launch the Proactive Accountants Network outside of Australasia.

Rob golf Michelle VernePAN LogoPAN membership levels

Saturday was a fun day. Nat & the kids arrived mid day which was great. It’s Ollies 14th birthday and unfortunately my conference clashed with it. So we decided to fly all 3 kids up to the island and have a 24 hour party – 14 year old style!

It started with fish & chips on the water. Then we went shooting –  rifles, pistols and a 44 magnum! And then it was off go karting (which was a lot of fun) and ended up at a cafe for pizza & cake.

I was amazed at how good all 3 kids were are shooting and racing. Might be something in that.

The kids are in a separate hotel (under 18’s not allowed @ Qualia where we are staying) so we are presuming they watched some movies last night and got some more room service.

Today we have more fun planned in the morning then the kids depart. I am playing golf with some clients in the afternoon and then the conference proper starts tonight with a cocktail party for 385 people.

Ollie shootingOllie targetOllie go kart

I am entering my 25th year growing businesses. I love businesses – especially growth ones. I am an entrepreneur at heart and over the years I have developed a very simple model to grow any type of business.

Now this model assumes your product / service is top shelf and your market buys it.

It has 3 parts to it:

1) Community. Who is your target market? Once you know who you are targeting then obtain / create / JV a list of them. Make sure the list is clean (contact details) and large. A list of 1,000 will not cut it. You need a list of at least 10,000 of your target. You continue to grow the list and nurture the list

2) Brand. What are you all about? What does your brand say about you? Name, logo’s, office, values, proposition, standards etc. Continue to develop brand which must be targeted at your key buyer – back to point 1.

3) Activity. So you have a database, branding is on fire. If you leave it there then you’ll starve. You need to aggressively and shamelessly promote your value directly to your target community. Webinars, direct mail, direct email, teleseminars, seminars, post cards, pushing videos/articles, calling, visiting etc. Good old fashioned ‘in your face’ direct marketing.

If you get all 3 working in sync then you can’t help but grow your top line.

Growth zone

It’s affectionately called ‘Hammo’ – Hamilton Island, Queensland that is. I have arrived on the island 2 days before 385 accountants / partners & sponsors  arrive for our 5th annual conference. It’s our biggest one yet.

We have a big line up of speakers and announcements. Speakers include Verne Harnish, Naomi Simson, Joanna Martin & Paul Dunn. Yours truly will do a few spots and there maybe even a book launch and a major product announcement! Stay tuned each day for what is going on.

Today for me was a travel day, get settled and then play some golf. I played quite well but my opponent (an Accountant) played better. I do hate giving money to accountants! I would rather take it off them. Tonight I am hosting some of my team and my golfing partner (and lovely wife) to dinner. Should be fun.

We (Nat and kids join us tomorrow) are staying at the 6 star Qualia. Well to be precise – Nat & I are staying here and the kids are at the Reef hotel.

Qualia service is impeccable and the facilities first class. More than I can say about the airline that brought us here today – Jetstar! What a joke they are.

Had dinner with colleagues on Saturday night @ Qualia. Awesome degustation menu with matching wines. Very lush.

The business action starts Sunday night – check back often or follow the twitter feed – @proactiveactnet

Some initial photos below:

Putting greenHamilton Island Yaght club

Boat on hammo

Lately there has been a lot of press and commentary (some would say hype) about cloud accounting systems.

So what is reality and what is hype?

First of all some facts:

  1. The cloud accounting (or the original term is SaaS – ‘software as a service’) has been around for a long time. The technology has been available for at least 10 years.
  2. Cloud accounting is where your (or your clients) data is stored on the internet (instead of a PC or server) so they can access it easily and efficiently.
  3. As of today there are approximately 3-4% of small / medium sized businesses who use an internet (cloud) based accounting system.
  4. The early adopters (the cool ones) have jumped on it and enjoy the simplicity and innovative approach to it.
  5. Many of the late majority users will be currently concerned about security issues. They are the same ones that were concerned about internet banking security concerns and now they probably use some form of internet banking.
  6. Every single accounting software maker (who started as a CD/Server/Hard drive system) are spending bongo bucks (technical term) to get ‘cloud ready’. In fact I know (from the horse’s mouth) that one prominent supplier is spending in the vicinity of $100M to get ready.
  7. Around the world there are gazillions of dollars being poured into any sort of internet based computing systems. The venture capitalists and financial markets are backing this space.
  8. Cloud accounting systems will not fix every issue you have with your clients ‘cleanliness of data’ – if they input incorrectly then you’ll get a mess like you do now. Muck in – muck out.
  9. It is reported by the software vendors that at the accountants end you will have an efficiency gain of anything from 10% – 40% when your clients are using an internet based accounting systems. That means 10% – 40% less time on the same job.
  10. When a client has their data on the internet it is easier to transport the data from one accounting firm or accounting software supplier to another. Click of a button.
  11. Every week we are hearing of clients who have switched accounting firms because the other firm did not offer an internet based accounting system.

And the final fact.

12. This is going to happen whether you like it or not!

This is a revolution going on in the accounting space. And you are in the box seat to capitalise on it – or possibly be wiped out. You need to be like a surfer and ride the wave. As one supplier told me 2 weeks ago – we’re only 5 minutes into the 90 minute game.

So here is what I see as the future of all of this.

This revolution is like internet banking was 10-12 years ago. The early adopters got onto it (internet banking), the banks made it easier to use, increased security and now it’s just the way we transact.

I see this wave coming where clients will demand you set them up on an internet system and they will switch firms because of it. You might say the strength of your relationship will stop that. I question the strength of that relationship when you only see your client 1 or 2 times per year. What would happen if you only saw someone you loved 1 or 2 times per year? Ok, some of you might say that would improve things!

I believe that compliance will become a commodity with internet accounting. The technology will simplify everything. The technology will link to government agencies, other portals of interest and it will feed content down to the end user. If compliance becomes commoditized then where is the accountants ‘mystique’?

There is no formal connection between accountants and client. There is a history/relationship/mystique connection – but you are not ‘connected’ formally. I see that internet accounting will diminish the loyalty accountants currently enjoy – unless you connect with them formally.

I truly believe that these new systems will make it easier and faster to process compliance. That means that run of the mill annual compliance will become a commodity. When products/services become a commodity then inevitably price pressure starts. If you are charging an agreed fee and you can take out 10% – 40% of the time, and the service is a commodity, then what is the ethical thing to do? My view is you need to reduce your price and price based on your value you provide.

There will be a new breed of ‘price cutting’ accountants start to appear. Internet based accountants. No relationship with the client. All delivered via the internet. Online support if needed. The work is done ‘wherever’. Who knows where? And for some who cares.

I think these new systems have the power to wipe out traditional/tired/stuck in their ways/yesterday based accounting firms. If your clients want it and you’re not delivering it then they will fill find someone who will. Are you going to pull down your shingle, sell out or get with it and ride the wave?

My view all this change equates to massive opportunity for savvy accounting firms who are truly interested in making a difference with their clients.

You see, when your clients are ‘internet accounting enabled’ the data is real time and more accessible. Your clients can see what is going on every day on any mobile or fixed device. It is a bit like what the late, great Steve Jobs said when he launched the Apple iPod® he said this device will allow you to have “1,000 songs in your pocket”.

I am going to say something similar – your business data in your pocket™. Your clients have their data in their pocket at any time – in real time.

Is cloud accounting your friend or your foe? Depends how you look at it. It’s your friend if you ride the wave and capitalise on it. It’s your foe if you do nothing.

Let’s say you want to make it your friend.

Imagine you have helped your clients get onto any one of the major internet based accounting systems. You guided them which one to choose and helped them get set up on it. You got on the front foot and promoted it to your clients before another accounting firm did.

Your clients accounting is now in the cloud. Once you get the hang of it you now have excess capacity and you now have some choices to make. You can either downsize your team, buy some fees or you could do what most have wanted to do for years – add value in a positive way to your clients with that new found excess capacity.

Imagine if you are now formally connected to your clients via the internet and you can see what is going on in their business in real time. With this data you can then become more relevant and more useful.

Imagine if you could see a consolidated view of your clients’ data, in real time, on your mobile device or PC. You don’t have to wait for next year to see this year’s balance sheet/P&L and financial situation. That is looking in the rear view mirror at history. It’s bordering on useless. We’re a real time society and you as the accountant need real time data. Real time on your phone, tablet or any PC.

And it didn’t matter what accounting system your client used. Your consolidated view would be with all clients and all accounting systems.

Imagine if the system would alert you if something untoward is happening – debtors up, payables up, cash down etc. The system sent you a text message or email when your clients go in the ‘red’ or it gave you a health check of all clients – no matter if they are in the ‘red’ or the ‘black’. If the system told you this you could then simply react to your clients’ situation and either alert them to the issue (good customer service) or you might have a meeting with them to help them solve the issue on the spot or have them buy a higher level service from you if need be.

Imagine if that same system fed up content to you and gave you help on what to say, how to say it and how to fix business issues. Imagine if that same system coached you and your team members on what to do, how to act and how to be better advisers to your clients.

Imagine if the system did real time benchmarking with the same industries that your client is in.

Imagine if the system enabled you to do a business performance review – on the spot. It enabled you to be more meaningful at your annual meeting with your client.

Imagine if it showed you how to plan the next 12 months with your client and with a click of a few buttons it prepared a budget & cashflow statement that was robust and ‘financier ready’. And then with the live data feed it helped you and your client monitor their daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual results.

Imagine if you had ….

“Your clients’ business data in your pocket – anytime, anywhere…real time™”

That’s the future.

Available very soon for Proactive Accountants around the world.

I am a very keen (mad) golfer. I golf in the rain. My clubs are always with me and I have 3 major golfing goals. One is easy the other 2 hard:

Goal 1 – Play every top 100 golf course in Australia

Goal 2 – Play every top 100 golf course in the World

Goal 3 – Play off scratch (zero handicap)

So with goal 3 I have regular coaching. I really love my coaching sessions. James my coach always challenges me and finetunes something. Each session I learn something new as well. And as a good coach he keeps me accountable.

This weeks lesson he invented a new game where I had to chip (46 metres) into a made up hoop. It was quite a challenge. There were points allocated to each good shot and points taken away for each bad shot. A bad shot was when I did not get in the hoop. I was on minus 13 (not good) after 20 balls.

I was getting quite frustrated and said “I am going to play this way I would normally play it”. James snapped back (and he’s the pro remember) – “PLAY IT THE  WAY I TEACH YOU”.

Ahhh. He’s the pro and I’m not. So I did play it the way he taught me and it worked. I got to plus 16 for the next 20 balls.

How many times do you listen to experts and not do what they say? You should only listen to people who are much much better than you. When I am playing golf often I have my opponents (who are not pro’s) say “can I give you a tip”. NO is my automatic response.

I am only going to listen to someone who is much much better than me. In life and in business. Who are you listening to?