ExpensiCon has always been a unique conference experience, but attendees were in for a treat as they descended on the islands of Bora Bora. In addition to the lifelong memories being made, our curated list of guest speakers and roundtable discussions provided everyone with new outlooks and learnings — and that was before attendees had the chance to exchange their own tips and tricks! Though ExpensiCon ended last week, take a walk down memory lane with us as we fondly look back on the top 8 trends and takeaways from this once-in-a-lifetime partner retreat.
1. Preaccounting is front and center for the accounting industry — you just didn’t realize it yet
Despite putting behind them one of the busiest days of the year (at least until next year!), client services weren’t far from most attendees’ minds as they landed in Bora Bora, ready to hit the ground running. Attendees took advantage of the wealth of knowledge amongst each other to trade tips and tricks on best practices to bring back to their firm and clients. What emerged through conversation was honing in on how accountants can take advantage of technology to help their clients get their portion of the paperwork done.
Accountants at ExpensiCon are some of the most progressive in adapting technology for their firms, but their clients are not always of the same mindset. This concept of client-driven paperwork, known as preaccounting, has always stood side-by-side with the accounting process, but was never compartmentalized into a specific pain point. David’s keynote really highlighted the frustrations accountants still have with preaccounting — in fact, Bill.com was helping partners tackle this over a decade ago, just under a different name — and that it’s one of the many mountains accountants can climb by implementing a tool and pre-emptive best practices.
Want to hear what the fuss is about and learn more? Read our Practical Guide to Preaccounting to learn how you can get ahead of the curve with your clients for 2018!
2. Surprise guest speaker: Travis Kalanick
Everyone knows that David and Travis worked together at Red Swoosh before the two entrepreneurs went their separate ways to start Expensify and Uber, but excitement buzzed through the room seeing the man himself on the ExpensiCon stage!
During their fireside chat, David and Travis dug into the habits that make entrepreneurs successful, the entrepreneur’s journey, and insights on identifying these thoughtful habits early. The pair also discussed Travis’ entrepreneurial history from his first endeavor in college to what’s next for him at the 10100 fund. It was a big way to kick off the keynote and set the tone for the rest of the day!
3. Highlights from our roundtable sessions
From the keynote, everyone headed straight to the roundtable sessions led by some of the most forward-thinking accountants in the game. Highlights include:
Shaye Thayer and the Iridium team highlighting some real talk from Steph Hinds’ discussion on Creating Leaders in an Industry Dominated by Committees:
Tom Rhys Jones highlighted Tina Gregory’s passionate call to action on establishing client delight from onboarding to graduation:
David Bergstein and Aaron Berson getting to the underlying message of Tom Hood’s discussion:
Stef Stavri sharing Adam Grainger’s core call to action:
To see all of the highlights on Twitter, follow the conversation here!
4. ExpensifyApproved! Partners’ successes are key to our successes
We’ve always emphasized the strength of our relationships – it keeps us in touch with what accountants and clients are looking for. We created our ExpensifyApproved! Program to support all of our partners, and without them we wouldn’t be here today. Last night, we highlighted our biggest fans for being the best partners and champions of our mission and product. The full list of award recipients are:
- 2018 Technology Partner of the Year: Oracle NetSuite
- 2018 North American Partner of the Year: Escalon Services
- 2018 European Partner of the Year: Fitzgerald & Law
- 2018 Emerging Partner of the Year: LiveCA
- 2018 Customer of the Year: Atlassian
- 2018 Expensify Champion: Tyler Zollinger of the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation
We also took the time to recognize our partners Countsy and Kranz & Associates for being our newest Platinum ExpenisfyApproved! Partners.
For the full press release, click here. Congrats to all of our winners!
5. More control for admins: improving on our admin functionality
We’re following up on our promise earlier this year to perfect what we have, starting with admin control. Puneet Lath, Product and Success Coach Lead, walked attendees through two features that give admins more control over their clients’ expenses. These new features increase the oversight and control accountants and bookkeepers have over their clients’ expense information to improve current preaccounting workflows: a more powerful reconciliation dashboard and Concierge DoubleCheck.
Click here to see the full suite of audit and compliance features announced.
6. The push towards people-driven firm growth
Tuesday’s roundtable sessions highlighted a core theme that we’ve seen resonating in the industry as of late: the focus on people-driven growth. Chris Frame led the charge with his aptly named session “How Focusing on People can Build a Multi-Million Dollar Accounting Firm – even without an office!” He enraptured the crowd with lessons learned from growing LiveCA from a two-person team who met on the internet to a team of 50 working completely remote.
Meanwhile, Nomad Financial’s Lauren Kaplan offered insight and tips on getting ahead in the war for talent in the age of the millennial workforce and Trent Innes invoked a thoughtful discussion on team growth through scaling internationally with Xero. David Bergstein of Intuit rounded out the group with his discussion on the people and habits created by the most innovative firms in leading their clients to embracing new trends. One thing is clear from all of these discussion – while AI is gaining traction, people play a crucial role — now, more than ever — in building a top firm.
7. ExpensifyApproved! Banks Partner Program is live!
We’re so excited to announce the launch of the ExpensifyApproved! Banks partner program with our inaugural partner, Wells Fargo! Connections are an integral part of a complete Expensify workflow, so we’ve doubled down on making this experience even better for our customers and partners. The ExpensifyApproved! Banks program will focus on giving mutual clients access to secure streamlined integrations, exclusive partnership opportunities, and the highest levels of customer support. Under the ExpensifyApproved! umbrella, accountants can now take advantage of banks that work naturally with our product. Partners in our ExpensifyApproved! Banks partner program are specially vetted and have earned our seal of approval, and criteria to join includes having a reliable API to transmit card info. Overall, our accounting partners and their clients as well as our end users can expect more reliable data from their banks into Expensify.
8. Something truly special happens when we put our biggest partners and customers on one island
When we held ExpensiCon: Maui in 2016, we thought that there was no way we could ever top the excitement and new connections built at that conference. Much like Bora Bora, ExpensiCon 2018 is bigger and better than ever. With our favorite partners including Vanessa Kruze of Kruze Consulting, Matt Flanagan from BlueHub, Clayton Oates of QA Business, and Deb Defer of BDO among others coming back for round two, we were excited to welcome some of our newest partners and champions, including Tyler Zollinger of Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, T.C. Williams from PwC, and Yassir Karam and J.D. Dietzen from CLA.
More than your typical networking event, putting our partners, thought leaders, and decision makers in one room means lots of momentum moving forward on creative and unique projects; we can’t wait to see the connections and partnerships that blossom!
Want to learn more about these initiatives? Visit use.expensify.com to learn more!