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Firm leaders gather in Scottsdale to find out about tomorrow's client world

The 2018 North America Leadership Conference focused the minds of senior partners on how they can ensure they adapt to the changing needs of clients in a rapidly changing professional services world.

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The need to keep up with change

“If the rate of business outside our business is greater than the rate of change inside our business, you are out of business.” Cameron Herold, Founder, COO Alliance

The North America Leadership Conference saw 38 firm leaders from 22 cities (including from 5 countries outside North America) return to the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, AZ for three days of networking, learning and exchange with each other and with thought leaders from the world of business and entrepreneurship. The conference also provided an opportunity to formally welcome new Toronto accounting firm member Prasad and Company who were represented by Pramen Prasad and Ajen Prasad

With the professional services sector under pressure from the changing needs of clients, driven largely by technology, speakers were chosen to provide insights from not only the professional services world, but also from the business world. It was also the first time the association has welcomed a 'technology futurist' (Ian Khan) for the specific purpose of opening the eyes of firm leaders to changes that are impacting the way their clients are operating and the behaviour and expectations of their staff. 

Tough love was dispensed by Cameron Herold, Founder of the COO Alliance and the author of content absorbed by some of the greatest business minds (including Richard Branson) on topics ranging from vision, culture, people and meetings to technology, and how getting them right leads to accelerated business growth. Talking about culture as a "magnet", Cameron advised firms to make sure that their people are aligned with the company's values and that their websites and dress codes reflect the company's culture so that they attract the best and doesn’t repel the right people: "Your people are important to attracting the right people – A players attract A players.”

Locally based consultant Jean Briese challenged firms to think differently and shared insights on the five pillars that are shared by all high performing cultures and the simple process for engaging these in their own organizations.  

Futurist Ian Khan gave a sobering prediction that "traditional firms will become obsolete" unless they adapt quickly to the changing world their clients and staff work in and explained that the Big Four firms are investing huge sums into artificial intelligence and blockchain.  

An industry panel consisting of senior representatives from the AICPA, ABA (International Section of Law) and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy also gave updates on the disruption they are seeing and the challenges ahead for middle market firms. 

Accounting firm members were also able to measure themselves against the Best of the Best in the profession, with Mike Platt (Platt Consulting and INSIDE Public Accounting) delving into the results of the INSIDE Public Accounting 2017 National Benchmarking Report. This highlighted how Alliott Group's CPA members are performing versus their peers and the characteristics and best practices that give these firms the edge. 

A full review of the meeting (including photos) will be available soon. 

We look forward to seeing our members at a future Business Advantage Program event soon. The destination for the 2019 North America Leadership Conference will be announced later in Q1 of 2018. 

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Ian Khan talks about a future for the professions that will be driven largely by technology and changing client and staff expectations

Technology futurist Ian Khan talked about a "colossal shift" in the world of business.

There was also ample time for leaders of some of the region's leading local firms to spend time networking with each other, to exchange views with sponsor Engineered Tax Services on the latest U.S. tax reforms (Tax Cuts Jobs Act), and to enjoy some of the best dining experiences in Scottsdale. 

Alliott Group's CEO James Hickey comments: "We put together a strong program that places our members in a better position to gain an understanding of the disruption that is impacting middle market firms. The world of professional services will look very different in three to five years time - we intend to make sure that our member firms have the knowledge and connections to thrive by seeing threats as real opportunities that will enable them to grow their firms and add measurable value to their clients' business."  

A full report will be available very soon on the conference - in the meantime, members can access speaker presentations by clicking here (you will need to login). 

Interested in finding out more about membership?

Successful, ambitious, independent accounting and law firms are invited to explore membership or apply today.