11th March, 2022
At the close of Week Two, Leanne Berry shares bittersweet insights from her experiences on the road with the ICB Australian Bookkeepers Summit.
Writing this from my incredibly humid room in Darwin, I can confidently tell you that I am no longer ‘conference fit’.
It’s just my second week now, travelling around the country with the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers’ Australian Bookkeepers Summit, and I personally feel like I’ve been on the road for more than a month. After such a long time confined to my home and barely having seen an airport in the past two years, suddenly I find myself on the other end of the scale once more.
Not that being busy again is a bad thing, by any means – it’s a good sort of busy. In fact, the conversations I’m having with peers and colleagues in the bookkeeping industry gives me so much energy, and the face-to-face nature of it all has lent the show something of a reunion vibe. Watching the looks of happiness and delight on everyone’s faces as they see and reconnect with old friends has really made this a joyful event; one which I’m very grateful to be a part of.
I should add that it seems the industry agrees. Each of the Hobart, Canberra and Adelaide legs of the tour – and today, in Darwin – have all been well attended, demonstrating the appetite Australia’s bookkeepers have to get out and get back to a more ‘normal’ rhythm of work. Which leads me to the first theme I’ve picked up on in the past fortnight.
While attendance and the emotion in the room tells me just how much bookkeepers long for a return to ‘normal’, I hate to say that I don’t think we’re going to get there anytime soon.
From fires to floods and global pandemics, Australia’s bookkeepers have worked themselves to the bone over the past 24 months as they try to juggle the needs of their clients against an increasingly fast-paced technological and legislative environment. I’ve experienced this heartbreak firsthand, with one of my own clients having retired from a multi-decade career in Bathurst, NSW, to fully invest themselves in a hospitality venture in Lismore, only for it to literally go under in the recent flood events. They will recover, but it’s in times like these that a business operator needs someone other than the insurance company to call if they hope to hear from someone who really understands where they’re up against.
It’s been said before, but our bookkeepers are truly at the frontline of business survival, and it seems like they’ve been working at the very precipice for a long time now. Promisingly, some of the conversations I’ve had recently indicate that we’re beginning to be more agile in incorporating new tech and communicating new legislative changes to clients, making them more resilient as a result.
Such bookkeepers have become more proficient in the implementation of online platforms and professional in the way they deliver services and advice to their clients, partly triggered by the shift to remote work that the pandemic has thrust upon us. But even in the case of these recent floods, we see only an enhanced need for flexibility, for the ability to interact over great distances, as well as shuttle important work back and forth securely online. And that leads me to the second theme.
Over the past three decades, bookkeepers have evolved from being the arbiters of business recordkeeping into becoming a boots-on-the-ground, specialist business tech consultant. We pride ourselves in our ability to deliver solutions to our clients that keep them confident and compliant in their business processes. All good there.
But as technology evolves at an ever-growing rate, so too does the potential for gaps in security arise. As bookkeepers, this puts us in a particularly precarious position, as we are often managing significant amounts of sensitive data – both for our clients and for our own businesses.
The Summit is demonstrating the appetite for more knowledge in cyber security, too, with Rob Marshall’s sessions on the topic being very well attended and stimulating plenty of questions. In it, Rob talks cyber security with long-term MYOB Certified Consultant, Debra Jeffrey, who had a particularly steep learning curve on the matter and whose experience makes for very compelling viewing.
Asked what software she considered best for her clients’ security by some bookkeepers during lunchbreak that followed one of these sessions, Debra responded (no kidding): “I only trust the MYOB Portal when it comes to collaborating with clients – it’s the most secure option available”. Hear hear!
And, with MYOB in mind…
I’ve been lucky enough to take on the task of informing our audience of bookkeepers about the changes coming to MYOB that will enable a smooth transition into the next phase of Single Touch Payroll reporting – and they’re loving it.
The presentation includes a live demonstration of the upcoming 2022.2 release, so attendees get to see how the transition will work from their perspective. Naturally, the sessions have also encouraged plenty of questions regarding when to get started, as well as how to get strategic about moving more clients from offline versions of the product into online ones.
For those who can’t attend an ICB Summit event (see the full list of upcoming dates in my previous post), then I encourage you to visit our STP2 hub for partners, where you can find heaps of detail regarding the legislation, what MYOB’s doing to make it easy for you and your clients, as well as how to register for our weekly webinars on the topic.
Anyway, that’s it for now; I need to get back to real-time, in-person communications. You know, what we used to call ‘having a chat’ back in the old days.
I will be back with another missive from the tour bus next week, so stay tuned for more.