Why I’ve never missed AAT’s Annual Conference

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Tim Birkett, Founder and Director at Birkett Ferguson Associates Ltd and FMAAT, is a veteran attendee of AAT’s Annual Conference.

“I’ve been to every single conference since 2009” says Tim “and last year’s was the best yet”.

Tim’s been in the business for a staggering 36 years, looking after more than 750 clients at his practice in Poole. He credits his repeat visits to the wealth of expert speakers, the opportunity to meet AAT staff and, crucially – to meet and share tips with fellow members.

“People who ‘know it all’ are dangerous” says Tim. “I’ve been in the business a long time and the older I get the more I need to keep learning. We don’t go just to tick the CPD box. We come away with genuine knowledge that we can apply in practice and we always find relevant sessions and presentations.”

Tim’s particularly enthusiastic about AAT’s ever popular tax guru Michael Steed “He’s the best presenter on tax I’ve seen. His sessions are on point and extremely relevant to the challenges we face in the office.”

Tim also namechecks last year’s keynote speech from cybercrime expert Rik Fergusson which he found particularly pertinent, not least as he’s been the victim of cyber theft  himself after having his debit card cloned at the point of sale whilst buying petrol a few years ago in Bournemouth. “I try and pay cash these days unless it’s a big brand” muses Tim.

“Apart from the sessions, 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 can gain exposure on a wide range of issues. By discussing common problems I can then ascertain if they’re global or local. This is invaluable when speaking to HMRC giving a weight of credibility to what you’re saying. It also serves as the perfect forum to discuss subjects I might not routinely deal with such as inheritance or capital gains taxes.”

This year Tim will be taking his Client Services Director Andrew Ferguson and MAAT Joseph Knott.  “I try to make sure at least two of us from the practice attend. This way we can actively discuss the content of the talks and how it applies to our practice. Crucially, it gives us an opportunity to think on the business not in the business. We actively make time to sit and discuss the key points. How does this affect us as a practice? Do we need to take action?”

The Annual Conference has been through many changes over the years. Formerly know at the AAT Weekender, the event has since grown considerably; last year’s conference was the biggest yet and is now regarded as AAT’s flagship event; Tim Birkett has been to every single one.

“For me the evidence of the value in AAT’s Annual Conference is my attendance record. I never miss it. I’ve been to every conference since 2009 and I’m looking forward to what 2016 has to offer.”

Tim’s top tips for attending AAT’s Annual Conference

Sharpen your CPD

The sessions and key note speeches are crucial whatever role you’re in. If you’re in practice this is your opportunity to compare notes on a national level and interface with fellow MIPs. This isn’t about CPD point scoring, the Annual Conference gives your real world knowledge that can often have a real world impact on your business.

Meet the AAT staff

The Annual Conference is a great opportunity to meet AAT’s staff and put names to faces. With Council Members, AAT’s Executive Team and support staff in attendance, this is a good chance to get close to the organisation but perhaps more importantly, it’s the opportunity give feedback – good or bad – about AAT to people who are in a position to listen and take action.


Over the years The Annual Conference has enabled me to make contacts within the organisation – particularly with fellow MIPs. We’ve formed an informal support group to discuss accounts and tax. We share our collective expertise and if we don’t know the answer we can normally point someone in the right direction.

If possible, take a colleague

If you can, take a colleague or staff member. This give you the ability to discuss the key issues whilst they’re fresh in your mind and evaluate the implications for you or your practice.

The content team are the owners of AAT Comment.

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