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Alliott Group Worldwide Conference Highlights How Mid-Market Firms Can Win in Rapidly Changing Professional Services Market

Accountants and lawyers from 53 Alliott Group member firms in 26 countries participated in the 2017 Worldwide Conference which took place in Sydney, Australia from 18-21 October. Members gained insights into changing professional services buying behaviour and how they can develop their businesses by continuing to play a pivotal role in clients’ future success.

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Keynote speaker and best-selling author Rob Nixon, Founder of Panalitix, delivered on his promise to disturb and inspire conference attendees with a highly engaging presentation of his views and predictions for the professional services market and his opinions on how firms must change their business models to ensure they do not get left behind in a rapidly changing professional services market.

An invigorating workshop ensured all attendees left with rich content and new ideas on how they can build a better business by improving profitability, capacity and cash flow, and how they can help their clients to do the same. While Nixon's views may not have been to everyone's liking, his approach aligns with one of Alliott Group's strategic goals - to challenge professionals firms' "way of doing things" so that they remain relevant to the changing needs of clients.  

Advisors must be proactive with their clients

Among Nixon’s warnings was the growing influence of technology in commoditizing the bread and butter work of most accountants:

“87% of the international accounting profession’s revenues are focused on compliance; this is becoming commoditized due to technology adoption. Eventually the machine will do the accounting work."

Nixon emphasised the need for professional advisors to be on the front foot with new technology and with their clients, ensuring that they understand their clients’ goals and can sell the right services to help them achieve these ambitions.

Rob Nixon talks about disruption in the professional services market

Rob Nixon of Panalitix engages with members at the 2017 Worldwide Conference

Advancements in technology are driving down costs and increasing capacity

Nixon also highlighted that each of the Big Four firms are spending around US$250M a year on artificial intelligence and machine learning technology so that they can deliver low cost services, with IBM’s Project Watson also being used by law firms to undertake an increasing range of tasks. “Nimble new, tech savvy players in the market can get work done twice as fast for half as much,” cautioned Nixon.

Engaging younger fee earners

Other speakers included Bruce Coombes of QuickFee who shared insights into the millennial-approved tools progressive firms are using (or at least should be using), while Sue-Ella Prodonovich provided 20 valuable tips on how firms can engage early career professionals in business development and marketing and how firms can maximize their impact in terms of strategy, marketing, sales and client experience management. 

Technical exchange through special interest groups

Meetings of the alliance’s special interest groups afforded members further opportunities to get involved in targeted networking and to exchange technical information on topics such as transfer pricing, Country by Country reporting (CbCr), U.S. immigration in the Trump era, capital strategy and the intricacies of doing business in Australia and New Zealand. Members including Jamie Towers, Kathie Gaber, David GibbsMaarten Borrie, Jeff Berger, Gina Bozinovski and Greg Millar, as well as external experts from business and from specialist advisory firms, contributed the latest information on substantive tax, finance and global mobility issues. 

Mixing business with pleasure

There was also time for relaxation with members spending the evenings developing strong personal relationships while dining at some of Sydney’s best restaurants. Opportunities to network were supported further by excursions to a local wildlife park and by a team building 'scavenger hunt' which took members out on the water into Sydney’s iconic harbour.

Conference attendees were engaged throughout

Conference attendees remained engaged throughout the conference

Exposing members to thought leaders

Conference feedback indicates that the conference was a big success, with James Hickey, CEO of Alliott Group commenting: 

“We continue to evolve our meetings programme so that we are constantly challenging the way our members think about the way they serve their clients and operate their businesses. It’s important to inject new ideas at every touch point with members so that we and they remain relevant to the market. With 95% of attendees telling us in the post conference survey that participation has ‘strengthened their international network’, and with an average overall conference attendee experience rating of 8.5 out of 10, we are on the right path.”

Thanks to our sponsors and local firm

We would like to thank local member firm Allan Hall Business Advisors (and the entire Australia and New Zealand membership) as well as our conference sponsor QuickFee for their support before and during this year’s event. Further full reports on the conference will follow soon.