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Time well spent at LSCA Practitioners’ Conference

From hardcore CPD tax updates to creating a cloud-based practice, with plenty of MTD thrown, LSCA Treasurer Justin Silverman finds there was plenty on offer at the latest Practitioners’ Conference.

May 2019

Thursday 21 March 2019 saw my annual pilgrimage to Robinson College, Cambridge for the 48th edition of the LSCA Practitioners’ Conference. This was my fifth conference and while no one there had been to the 47 previous conferences, there were a few delegates who had notched up more than 40 visits, testament to the quality of the event!

The 10 main addresses, spread over two and a half days interspersed with discussion group sessions, covered a broad selection of topics ranging from ‘hardcore’ CPD in the form of a general tax update from the extremely well-known doyen of the tax world, Rebecca Benneyworth, to the more relaxed topic of a practice technology update from Archna Tharani.

Archna charted her experience from purchasing a small practice and turning it into a fully 21st century digital cloud-based practice with everyone working from their home, enabling the central London offices to be scaled down to just a meeting room. A fascinating presentation for any accountant, whether a long-established practitioner or someone just starting out on their own having previously enjoyed the ‘comfort’ of employment.

It may have only been a few days prior to the commencement of Making Tax Digital but no self-respecting conference can afford to bypass the issue. In fact, the first address was provided by HMRC’s Michael Cameron and Julian Hatt. Michael has been very much at the forefront in dealing with practical issues relating to MTD and provided an interesting insight into how HMRC are coping.

Having heard HMRC’s version of MTD, a later address from Rebecca provided an alternative side to MTD and how she has cajoled her own clients into compliance and the steps being taken there. For those of you who have had the pleasure of listening to Rebecca, you will know there will have been the odd amusing anecdote!

The discussion groups, consisting of 10 to 12 delegates, provided an ideal opportunity to dissect the main addresses, and learn first-hand from other practitioners in different parts of the country how they deal with many of the topics raised by the lecturers. There was also the possibility of quizzing the lecturers when they visited each group following their presentation. This was the time to ask the nitty-gritty question and receive an answer which can only be obtained face-to-face.

Yes, the conference does require time away from the office, but it is well worth the time investment to have the opportunity of hearing a range of topics covered - you leave with a ‘to-do list’ which must be the sign of an excellent conference.

Justin Silverman is LSCA Treasurer.

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