AAT’s fourth annual Members’ Weekender, sponsored by Mazars, takes place on Friday 18 and Saturday 19 May 2012 in Bristol. Open to student members and full members alike, it offers a packed schedule of insightful sessions delivered by expert speakers from the accountancy industry. The theme this year is ‘Effective accounting in challenging times’.
What can you expect if you sign up to AAT’s Members’ Weekender? Here, nine AAT members who have attended numerous times explain where the value lies.
1. Harriet Arnold MAAT, MIAB Sum-It Up Payroll, Bookkeeping and Accountancy Services:
I’ve attended and thoroughly enjoyed the last two AAT Members’ Weekenders. I find them a great source of CPD, as well as an opportunity to get to know your peers and make useful contacts.
The seminars provide valuable new information, reaffirm existing knowledge and open your eyes to new ideas and concepts. The contacts I have made at the Weekender have given me an invaluable support network whose experience provides valuable hints and tips.
I’m looking forward to this year’s Members’ Weekender, and wholeheartedly recommend it for anyone who has their own practice and/or wants to meet others from their profession.
2. Tim Birkett, Director, Birkett & Co. Ltd:
I have attended all the AAT Members’ Weekenders since their inception, and they have more than lived up to my expectations. I most look forward to the interaction with other members in practice and the opportunity to share our experiences. The majority of MIPs run their own practices, so we are all on a level playing field.
I have been to other events where the delegates are split between the big firm and small firm practices, and this can engender a ‘them and us’ attitude – this is not the case at AAT’s Weekender.
CPD is an absolute must for all MIPs, and the Weekenders provide exactly the right forum to get the knowledge you need to run your practice and, more importantly, to give a better service to your clients.
Over the years the Weekender has enabled me to make contacts of a few MIPs, and this has become an informal mutual support group with regards to matters accounts and tax. Even if we don’t know the answer we can normally point someone in the right direction. Another real plus of the Weekenders is the opportunity to meet some of the AAT staff and put faces to names. I’ve been a member and in practice for 30 years, but personal professional development is more important now than it’s ever been.
3. Catherine Brown, Financial Controller, Packaging World:
AAT’s Members’ Weekender is a great way to build connections with other accounting folk. While working in practice as a bookkeeper keeps me in touch with legislation changes, procedures, and so on, working alone in accounts in a small company can feel quite isolated and I sometimes fear that I am losing my ‘edge’, as it were.
The seminars at the Weekender allow me to hear other delegates’ thoughts and experiences. Listening to the comments during lectures is an easy and enjoyable way of picking up tips.
The weekend is a very easy way to get updated all in one go, as there are so many sessions all crammed into one weekend.
I have also found that it re-energises my enthusiasm for my work, and for my CPD. It’s easy to get bogged down and disconnected from your need to remain up to date during your day to day work, and this couple of days is a good stimulus to re-engage my brain.
This year I‘m looking forward to Mr Steed’s tax clinic, as usual! His is always an enjoyable and informative session, and definitely not to be missed.
I have opted for Janet Stevenson’s assertiveness session as well, hoping for personal gains here! I’ve also chosen Innovative thinking in business with Michael Steed MAAT and Palmer & Co‘s Brian Palmer FMAAT; and Forensic accounting with Stephen Lewis, of Mazars’ Forensic & Investigation Services, as I think these could benefit my employers as well.
If you haven’t yet attended this event, I’d urge you to come along. It’s a bargain weekend, with so much knowledge to be gained all in one place at such a good price. And even though it is work-related, it really doesn’t feel that way. There is nothing to be lost and such a lot to be gained, so give it a try.
4. Bob Cassey, Director, Cassey & Company Limited:
This is a not-to-miss event for me – as a member in practice (MIP) I have found from previous occasions the Weekenders provide a great chance to enhance my CPD across a range of taxation subjects, and I’ve also benefited from break-out sessions on building a more efficient practice.
In addition, the social activity provides an excellent opportunity to catch up with old friends as well as make new ones, and being a sole practitioner I have gleaned a number of profit improvement ideas by simply being able to network with peers.
As a Management Accountant in industry, I’ve always found past Members’ Weekenders to offer the variety of speakers and subjects that will appeal to all members of AAT, regardless of whether they are a bookkeeper, a payroll clerk or a full member in practice.
All the members and speakers have a common interest: to share knowledge and learn from others, which is something I certainly have done. The networking certainly helped me in terms of a soft skill for CPD, as it pushed me to start up conversations and give my input in discussions.
I would definitely recommend the AAT Members’ Weekender, and look forward to attending the 2012 event.
6. Helen Geatches FMAAT ATT, Chairperson AAT Exeter branch:
I’ve attended two previous AAT Members’ Weekenders and I have booked onto this year’s event as well.
The Weekenders are a great opportunity to attend to various modules in my CPD planner and keep all my skills up to date. I also find that some modules are not necessarily on my CPD plan, but they contribute to the overall knowledge base I need when speaking to clients. It’s very important to be able to advise a client to seek specialist advice in another area (for example, legal advice) rather than just tell the client it’s something I can’t help them with.
I find that when I’m at the Weekender I am very focused to learn, as I have no other distractions. It is intense but satisfying learning. I also very much enjoy meeting members from other parts of the country, and hearing all about their experiences in the accounting world.
This year, I am as usual looking forward to the tax modules, but I’m also very keen to learn about Real Time Information and Cloud Computing. I’m part of an industry that changes frequently, and I’m keen to keep up with all new developments.
I’d recommend every AAT member attend a Weekender at some point. Until you attend one, you have no idea of the benefits you get from it. I was hooked after the first one – I had never realised it would be so informative. Council members, AAT staff and of course AAT members are all very friendly, which makes the overall experience very enjoyable.
7. Glenn C Leathley MAAT FFA FFTA, Chronicle Accountants:
I find AAT’s Members’ Weekenders recently a useful opportunity to meet other AAT folk and discuss everyday practice issues (and perhaps have a bit of a moan!). There’s a wide range of subject matter on offer in terms of seminars, and it’s great to have all that learning available in one place – plus the surroundings tend to be comfortable and relaxing, which makes for a better learning environment.
This year I’m looking forward to meeting up with the contacts I’ve made at previous Weekenders, getting the most up-to-date information about legislation and gaining useful, relevant information that will help me provide the best service to my clients. I’d say the knowledge I’ve gained at AAT Weekenders has broadened my skills and improved my confidence in my own capabilities.
If you haven’t been to a previous AAT Members’ Weekender, I’d recommend it because:
- you’ll become part of a peer network that means you’re not alone with your problems
- you’ll have access to wide range of seminars all in one place
- it’s a nice environment to learn in, away from your normal working surroundings.
Having benefited from the two previous Members’ Weekenders, I am looking forward to attending this year’s event in Bristol in May. Apart from being able to choose from a variety of CPD events that are relevant to me, there is the opportunity to network with delegates who travel from so many parts of the UK. This gives me the opportunity to share best practice tips and pick up new ideas for my business.
I have been involved with the AAT branch network for many years, so meeting old friends again is an extra bonus while I attend to the serious business of CPD.
As a Member in Practice, I am particularly interested in events that will help me run a more efficient and ‘greener’ business, and I’ll also attend the technical updates essential for keeping my knowledge and skills fresh.
The Weekender coincides with our AGM and is the perfect opportunity to find out first-hand how the AAT runs behind the scenes, as well as to have your say. Council Members are happy to talk about the role they play as Directors/Trustees, so please feel free to come and talk to us and learn how you can make a difference to AAT.
9. Judi Vidler ACMA CGMA MAAT, AAT Sussex branch committee member
AAT’s Members’ Weekenders are a great way to update knowledge in many different areas, fulfilling many CPD requirements in the process.
Not only that, but they’re fun! Topical quizzes, gala dinners, great conversations with your peers and fantastic venues make the weekend entirely enjoyable.
Stuart Waterman is AAT's former Community Manager.