What did we learn from IRIS World?

By Sam Thomas | 19th November 2018 | 14 min read

Forewarned, forearmed; to be prepared is half the victory ~ Miguel de Cervantes

This year, IRIS World was the biggest in our history – over 1,000 accountancy professionals joined us in London (pictured below), Manchester and Glasgow. For many, it was a timely opportunity to learn more about Making Tax Digital (MTD) and the plans IRIS has in place to streamline the transition to digital tax. There were many discussions about practice growth, business challenges and future legislation dates. For me, there were also some additional learning points from the events:

Planning with confidence

The industry has been awash with concerns about moving to MTD. Countless business surveys, warnings and dramatic articles led many to believe the industry would not be ready when legislation comes into force.

However, from my conversations, a different story emerged. Accountancy professionals are confident they can take advantage of tactical as well as strategic MTD opportunities. They understand what their practice needs to achieve ahead of the deadline to ensure they are MTD-ready. They have begun making technology and process changes. Plans have been drafted to extend advisory-based consultancy while continuing to provide traditional assurance and core compliance services.

Of course, the challenges will continue: moving clients to bookkeeping software, understanding the MTD dates after April and hiring staff are front of mind, but there is far more confidence in their long-term plans.

Listening to industry

Some of the most popular IRIS World sessions were from presenters outside of IRIS. Accountancy professionals gathered to obtain information from HMRC, listen to experiences from customers and understand opinion from industry bodies.

And for good reason. Our industry is complex. There’s a whole ecosystem of government bodies, suppliers, innovators, mentors and trainers that exist to help the industry thrive. They bring different perspectives; sharing their visions and insight into their worlds and the best way to capitalise on the opportunities of today and tomorrow.

It is only by having this dynamic cross-section of opinion that enables us to make informed business decisions. Presenters spark ideas. Talking to peers provide knowledge as to what was working well for them and where improvements can be made.

The listening doesn’t just take place at conferences. Behind the scenes, we recently represented the software industry by providing evidence to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee’s Finance Bill Sub-Committee. Our relationship with HMRC has evolved: by understanding each other’s challenges, we have developed a close collaboration with teams working together to ensure a smooth transition to digital tax. We’ve also been listening to other providers and stepping outside of the industry and country to identify best practice - bringing the best of the best back to our world.

My learnings from every IRIS World are invaluable. They not only provide incredible food for thought but a deeper understanding into the accountant’s day-to-day world. It’s an honour to work with such robust, innovative companies and individuals. They are the bedrock of tomorrow’s industry.