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New York, New York: 35th anniversary celebration at the Russell Bedford Annual Conference!

November 2018


The 35th Russell Bedford International Annual Conference took place in the magnificent city of New York on 17-21 October 2018, hosted by New York member firm, Spielman Koenigsberg & Parker. The conference, which was held in the heart of New York’s Times Square at the Millennium Broadway Hotel, attracted record-breaking numbers of attendees in celebration of the network’s 35th anniversary.  All four regions, across six continents, were represented, with over 150 professionals from some 50 countries. Along with guests and companions, our social events were attended by almost 200 people.

The conference opened on Wednesday night with a welcome drinks reception and dinner at the conference hotel, giving delegates and guests the opportunity to reconnect and welcome new Russell Bedford members.

Creating your best firm

The delegate programme opened with welcome addresses from Chairman of Russell Bedford International, Bill Rucci, and CEO, Stephen Hamlet, who summarised what a fantastic year the network had experienced and the exciting new initiatives and strategy that would follow. Board member, Tony Carey presented a branding update and overview, prior to Richard Koenigsberg, partner from our host firm, Spielman Koenigsberg & Parker, providing a typically authentic and warm New York welcome!

Allan D. Koltin, from Koltin Consulting Group, got the conference off to a fabulous start with his session ‘What it takes to be a Best-in-Class firm’ sharing his tactics for shaping your practice into a top-class firm. Allan also led a workshop on ‘Succession: How ready are you?’

A wide range of workshop topics were available for delegates to choose from including ‘Pricing professional services: Should we price more creatively?’ by Paul Whitney from Russell Bedford’s Manchester, UK member firm, Hallidays, and Johann Klein from Frankfurt, Germany member firm, Beeh & Happich.

Chairman and CEO of the Wall Street Blockchain Alliance, Ron Quaranta, led a workshop on ‘Blockchain, Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies: What digital money means for our future’, delving into this topical and interesting subject and reflecting on how developments may affect our future.

Day one of the conference closed with presentations by Russell Bedford’s latest joining members from Oman, Australia (Adelaide), Honduras, St. Vincent and Uruguay.

Evening cruise on the Hudson

For the evening social programme, guests embarked on a sightseeing cruise and dinner aboard the World Yacht Duchess. Guests enjoyed spectacular views of the city skyline and cruised by the iconic Statue of Liberty. The evening was topped off with a surprise fireworks display organised by host firm Spielman Koenigsberg & Parker.

Preparing your business for the future

Head of SME/SMP and Research at the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), Chris Arnold, opened day two of the conference with his session on ‘Insights from the 2018 Global SMP Survey’. Chris delivered an update on the survey results, explaining the specific challenges and opportunities faced by SMPs and SMEs to help firms serve this critical sector more effectively.

 

Lee Frederiksen, Managing Partner at Hinge Marketing, uncovered some previous misconceptions about referrals in his session: ‘Rethinking referrals: What you thought you knew about referrals is wrong’. Later in his workshop, ‘Social media: understanding and strategy’, he discussed practical solutions to giving your brand greater visibility using social media platforms.

Founder of CaseWare International’s European office, Jaap de Waard, discussed how firms can improve processes with the help of ever advancing new technologies in his workshop, ‘Embracing technology in auditing and accounting.’ MedWorld’s Principal and Co-Founder, Dave Sheppard, and CEO, President and Co-Founder Florence Joffroy-Black, co-delivered a workshop ‘Strategic exits: start from the beginning’.

Friday afternoon’s sessions started with a panel discussion on the future of auditing led by Tim Crockford, Commercial and Regulatory Disputes Partner at Clyde & Co., a leading sector-focused global law firm. Tim followed the panel discussion with a workshop on ‘Building and growing international referred work: managing the risk’.

 

The final day of the conference led with an update on audit quality control by Jim Sylph, Russell Bedford’s Audit Quality Consultant. Later, Tony A. Rose, founding partner of Russell Bedford’s Los Angeles member firm, Rose, Snyder & Jacobs, discussed the concepts of social and structural capital in his session ‘Five Eyes on the Fence: social and structural capital’.

The professional programme concluded with a feedback session and the AGM, culminating with an introduction to Sydney, the venue for the 2019 Annual Conference, by Mark Edwards, partner of next year's host firm, Camphin Boston, Sydney, Australia.

A sightseeing tour of New York’s best attractions

Our hosts kindly coordinated a fantastic non-delegate programme, which included some of New York’s best attractions including Central Park, NY Public Library, Empire State Building, Grand Central Station and the High Line, which offers wonderful views of the city, without the crowds! Non-delegate guests also enjoyed a trip on the Staten Island Ferry, a visit to the 9/11 Memorial Pools and Brooklyn Bridge Park and a very special lunch at the historic Fraunces Tavern, where George Washington bid farewell to his troops!

A celebratory party - New York style!

For the perfect ending to close what was a superb conference, guests congregated on the rooftop of the Hudson Mercantile in Midtown Manhattan for a rooftop drinks reception in celebration of the 35th anniversary of the network. What followed was an unforgettable evening of dinner, entertainment, and music, which included a hilarious performance by our three guest tenors, ‘The Three Waiters’ and superb live music.

Of course, no New York party could end without a real taste of the city in the form of freshly cooked New York donuts courtesy of ‘Doughnuttery’. Finally, we are indebted to the talented Martin Hardy for capturing the evening so elegantly in a painting created on the night.

 

A huge thank you to Richard Koenigsberg and all of the team at SKP, who coordinated an impressive itinerary for both the delegate and non-delegate schedule, and delivered a truly memorable event. Thank you and see you in Sydney!