By Ian Lavis on behalf of Praxity Global Alliance
How to adapt to the challenges of digitalisation, staffing, Brexit and trade tariffs were among the hot topics debated at the recent Praxity global and tax conferences.
Praxity Global Conference in Athens and North American International Tax Conference in Phoenix tackled the most important challenges in accounting and tax today.
And both events were a great success based on numbers and feedback from accounting professionals across the globe.
Kellie Becker, partner at US firm Plante Moran and chair of Praxity’s North American Working Group, said: “Praxity Global Conference is about how accounting firms can grow their businesses and work together and develop relationships worldwide. The NA event is about delivering technical content, building deeper relationships and how firms can apply it to their clients’ businesses.”
Key takeaways of the two events include:
- Artificial intelligence (AI) offers huge benefits if used wisely
- People and relationships will be more important than ever
- A diversity and inclusion strategy is the best way to grow
- Brexit is probably going to happen and is already having an impact
- Tariffs will continue to impact how and where companies trade
- Keep on top of the changing global tax landscape and how it impacts your business
The two conferences came hot on the heels of the announcement of a 12th year of consecutive growth of the Alliance and record combined global revenues (US$5.83 billion) of Praxity participant firms. Delegates and guest speakers shared knowledge and expertise to help clients conduct cross-border trade.
Global conference puts relationships first
Against the stunning backdrop of Athens, partners from over 100 countries convened at the Global Conference in October to share knowledge and best practice on the hottest issues in accounting.
Digitalisation featured prominently but the value of humans to manage the technology, overcome cross-border business challenges and develop lasting client relationships was a common thread.
One of the most hotly anticipated keynote speeches was that of Dr Ayesha Khanna co-founder and CEO of ADDO AI, based in Singapore, who allayed worries that AI will result in huge job losses in the profession.
Dr Khanna told delegates AI isn’t something to fear. Instead, it should be embraced as a tool to carry out more routine work, thus freeing up personnel to manage the machines and focus on developing client relationships. Dr Khanna called on firms to develop AI strategies with people, not robots, at the helm.
Other keynote speeches included:
- Dos and don’ts of successful cross-firm projects
- Fintech and the future of financial services
- The fall and rise of the Greek economy
There were also important regional and working group meetings, and opportunities for CPE accreditation in wide-ranging areas including business manage and organisation, personal development, communications, IT, economics and ethics.
As is customary at Praxity Global Conference, delegates and their companions were treated to five-star excellence and an exciting programme of activities. The programme included visits to the Acropolis and an Athens food tour for companions, and a trip to the Zappeion for delegates.
Tax conference attracts record numbers
The North American Tax Conference in Arizona in November – the only Praxity conference open to non-participant firms – was the most popular to date.
The event attracted record numbers of delegates from participant firms (283) and their clients (152). They had the opportunity to meet and quiz tax experts from around the world on anything from transfer pricing to country-specific developments.
“We invite our international colleagues to the conference and we had 80 non-US participants,” Kellie said. “That’s what makes it even more successful – having our international colleagues available to talk to our people and our clients is huge.”
Stressing the importance of these international exchanges, she added: “Our service teams and our clients want to know what is going on from an international tax perspective and a US tax perspective, and how it is going to impact their companies.”
Brexit and global trade were big talking points. “They still think Brexit’s going to go through but hopefully there will be some measures put in place to lessen the impact. We are already seeing companies pulling out of the UK,” Kellie said.
She added that it was clear tariffs “are not going way” but the impact will depend on what parties win domestic elections around the world. “We might see some more localisation, with more focus on manufacturing in local regions.”
Other discussions centred on trade negotiations in Japan, Africa, the EU, China and Mexico, and how to build tax practices for a digitalised world.
There was also significant interest in non-tax issues such as general accounting, operational issues and consultancy. “I expect this to grow in future,” Kellie concluded.