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Mike Goldsmith, Event Director, Festival of Accounting & Bookkeeping

We managed to grab Event Director Mike Goldsmith for a brief Q&A on how FAB came to be, and what to expect from this brand-new event.


So, why are you calling it a festival? 


Because it is a festival. It's not an expo, it's not an exhibition, it's not a conference, it's not a complex (whatever that is), it's a festival and that means something different to other accounting events. 


We wanted to create a place where accountants and bookkeepers could go and meet with friends. Whether they're reconnecting with old ones or making new ones, it’s a chance to meet their peers in a place where they'll be learning new things, to be able to grow their business while still actually having fun. Enjoyment and attending an event are not mutually exclusive. 

Where's it taking place?


It's happening at the NEC in Birmingham, the UK's number one event venue. It’s easy to get to, whether by rail, bus, or even by plane. I think you can get to 90% of the UK within four hours. It's the best place that we could find and it's somewhere that anyone in the UK can get to, not just people in the Southeast or who live in London.

So why was FAB created?


FAB was created because we wanted to create something new. Obviously our number one audience partner is AccountingWeb and we look at the feedback that we get through there, as well as the feedback from Accounting Excellence and from previous events that we’ve done, and they all told us that they wanted something new.


People have come out of the pandemic (there, I'm going to say it) and decided that they want face to face events, but it's not enough just to cram people in a room and expect them to go back to the same old format.


People don't just want to go and be lectured. One of the phrases that we're saying is face to face and not face the front. You don't need someone up on a stage talking at you for an hour where there's no time for questions. What you’d like is to be able to talk to someone, not be talked at, and that's what we're embracing. All of the feedback that we've received from our community, we’re making that live in March 2024. 

Who's going to be there? 


Everyone's gonna be there. We've got some incredible tech providers. Our launch partners are Xero, Intuit QuickBooks and Bright, who are all driving their audiences to come along. They're going to be there for their customers, whether they're old or new. 


We're also partnering with the ACCA to ensure that their communities know what we're doing. We're doing everything we possibly can to make an event that is going to appeal to startups, small firms, mid-tier firms, firms who don't traditionally go to events.


Finally, with our partners the ICB, we're going to be making a conference program that works for bookkeepers, finally recognising the bookkeeping community who we had a great time talking with at the ICB bookkeeper summit. They told us what they wanted and it wasn't something that they were getting from other accounting events. 


That's what we're going to be making for anyone who would like to come along but yeah, content that you've told us you want, that's what's going to be going on the program. 

Can you give us any hint on what to expect?


Traditionally, and this is almost irrespective of the accounting profession, live events can be kind of stages that end up going into the corners. We've certainly programmed enough events like that in the past. 


So to do something different, we wanted a floor plan that didn't just look like lots of boxes. So one of the things we can reveal we’re doing is a big circle stage right in the middle of the floor plan where, if you think of the word festival, the headliner is going to be. Maybe, just maybe, the after party is going to be there as well. 


We've got other areas as well. We have areas dedicated to the bookkeeping community but we also have ones dedicated to AI. There’s one I can talk about called Accounting for AI. AI is obviously the number one topic in the accounting profession and right now we think we can't really have a genuine discussion on it over the course of one 60 minute session. So we’re going to have a dedicated area of the show floor where there will be tech demos, the best speakers, workshops and smaller flash talks where you can get a full understanding, no matter what size firm you are or what your involvement in the profession is, of what AI is and how it's going to affect you.


It’s not enough to just turn around and ask if all my marketing campaigns can be written by chat GPT, we know the answer to that and the answer is no. So what will AI do? I don't think one or two lectures at an accounting event is going to give you a well-rounded enough answer and that's what we're trying to do. We’re making sure that we are giving you content that speaks to you and the challenges that you and your business have in 2024. There's lots of other stuff as well, but you're going to have to wait to hear more. 



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Follow this link to register, and we'll see you there in March!



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Festival of Accounting & Bookkeeping 2024

13-14 March 2024 | NEC, Birmingham