Thinking outside the box has never been more important as the world continues to grapple with the impact of the global pandemic. For accountants, adapting to change during widespread lockdowns - including switching to remote working and adopting cloud-based technologies - has been essential in helping their clients navigate uncertainty while developing their own practices for the future.
These challenges have called for creative thinking and, while there is nothing funny about the impact of the global pandemic, CPA Australia is calling on legendary comedian John Cleese to explore how being creative can help businesses at this year’s Public Practice Virtual Conference.
Cleese argues creativity and innovation can be learned - and are crucial skills to develop to keep your career and firm relevant. He’s spent 50 years studying the subject and shared his findings in Creativity, a short and cheerful guide and now brings his expert take on what makes creative people so good at it with his trademark style and sparkle.
Cleese is just one of the inspiring speakers at this year’s conference. Key themes will explore introducing new technologies to your clients, the future of work in digitised economies, leadership from an Asian perspective and global economic insights and trends.
John Cleese has spent more than 50 years studying creativity and its benefits for your business.
Keddie Waller, Head of Public Practice & SME, CPA Australia, says this year’s program has been curated with invaluable input from a taskforce of public practice committee chairs across Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia.
“Working with our taskforce, the key themes that were identified for this year’s conference centre around people’s practice needs: new technology, digitised economies, communication, innovation and creativity,” she says.
“Learning how to deal with business uncertainty and solve problems are key concerns for many people and this year’s conference provides some practical ways to do that.”
Programming the future
New technologies impacting the accounting profession will be explored in detail at the conference, including through several facilitated sessions.
One of Australia's most recognised and influential technology journalists, Trevor Long will explore the latest technologies, inspiring members to embrace their potential for greater business development and identify the best technologies needed to help clients.
“It can be quite overwhelming to start your technology journey if you're not strong in that area,” says Waller. “We know our members are keen to learn more about emerging technologies because they understand the opportunities it presents for their business. We also know it is the biggest challenge for many businesses and many people are cautious about investing in technology.”
The session will explore simple steps to take, from improving efficiency through workflow management to using data analytics to hone business performance, as well as tips on how to properly communicate complex technological jargon back to your clients.
“Trevor’s session gives people the opportunity to learn how some of these new technologies can be applied as well as ask questions in a live Q&A,” says Waller.
While adopting new technologies is a crucial step in preparing for the future, it’s important your team is also on board for the journey. Making sure your workforce can adapt to advances in technology is the focus of a session led by renowned future of work strategist and author Heather E. McGowan.
McGowan’s session will also be followed by a facilitated Q&A session, giving members the opportunity to raise questions about how they can work with their teams to maximise their investment in new technologies and harness their capabilities by valuing human capital.
Learning from each other
The conference is also an opportunity to learn from your peers. A panel of CPA Australia members will discuss how SME owners broadened the scope of their business during the onset of the pandemic, how changing client expectations transformed their business model, and how they leveraged key strategies to position their firm for growth.
Andrew Pearce FCPA, Lakshmisubramanian Somasundaram FCPA, Datin Shin Siang Yap FCPA, Thomas Wong FCPA and Wei Min Lo FCPA represent a cross section of global members and will bring personal and professional insights from Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, India and Hong Kong.
“Our members will share their stories from markets across the globe and it will allow people to see that regardless of where you are, there are great ideas that you can bring back to your own practice,” says Waller.
Collaborate and conquer
The conference is designed for teams to be able to participate together and then collaborate and discuss at the end of the sessions.
“We encourage people to sign up for the conference and then collaborate to bring the ideas and outcomes you have into practice,” says Waller. “After attending the conference, work as a group within your business or as part of your network to discuss how you can apply the ideas and information you have learnt in your workplace.”
In addition to the live moderated sessions, practical on-demand sessions will also be available. Some of the topics covered include ‘Crossing the generational divide’; ‘Understanding cyber security risks’; ‘Building personal resilience and creating hope’; as well as a ‘Tax essentials masterclass’, providing vital information on changes to Australia’s tax legislation.
Content will also be available online for four weeks, giving teams the opportunity to come together at a later stage and watch the recorded sessions.
“There are discounts available for group bookings - and it’s also a great way to gain continued professional development (CPD) hours. The conference is open for anyone working in the accounting profession to attend - if you are planning on attending one conference this year, make it this one,” says Waller.