Friday, May 4, 2018

Instant Replay

Now that another filing season is over, it’s usually about this time of year when my inbox begins to become overstuffed with reminders of upcoming conferences and subsequent links to their respective agendas.

By my count there are 14 prospective accounting-related events that I could conceivably attend by August, but for all practical purposes, will probably settle on one or two.

However like others in the profession, I’m becoming rapidly convinced that the time required, not to mention the expense of traveling to other cities, can be categorized by the law of diminishing returns. That coupled with the fact that the sessions staged in any specific year could simply be copied and pasted to events taking place in 2018.

As an example, I realize CPA firms have trouble getting good people. I’m reminded of it every day when I speak to clients. And yes, few would argue there is a significant cultural divide between Baby Boomers and Millennials that has to be addressed.

But tell me, does that scenario command roughly 14 sessions at several events dedicated to reaching out to Millennials and how to engage them? To me that’s the CPA version of summer television where reruns are the rule rather than the exception.

Ditto for blockchain and other pending disruptive technologies. At last count there were more than two dozen hours across the board assigned to that topic, not to mention a series of webinars.

Haven’t we seen this movie before?

By contrast, an upcoming conference boasting some 3,000 expected attendees has just four CPE blocks dedicated to M&A, despite more than 700 documented mergers between 2011 and now.

Like Millennials, M&A is here to stay and only promises to balloon over the next several years. Ditto for what we call non-traditional mergers, where CPA firms have acquired nearly 400 consulting practices (i.e. cyber security, family office, outsourced CFO et al) over the past three years as the above-mentioned technologies will continue to change the basic operational paradigm of CPA firms. Thus CPA firms will become more consultative in nature, and veer toward more higher-end advisory services. Yet, to my knowledge not one hour of CPE is dedicated anywhere to that exploding trend.

But my plane and hotel reservations are already made, so at this point I’m pigeonholed into attending whatever sessions I think can ultimately help our business.

But if someone asks me if I can assist them in hiring Millennials, I just may take a red-eye home and demand a refund.

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