There are only two conferences for accountants that my colleague, Jeff Stimpson, and I never miss attending. Winning Is Everything, presented by the Advisory Board, is one of them.The Advisory Board’s members are four of the leading consultants to accounting firms -- Jay Nisberg, president, Jay Nisberg & Associates; Allan Koltin, president and CEO, PDI Global.; Gary Boomer, CEO of Boomer Consulting; and Gary Shamis, managing director of SS&G Financial Services and co-founder of the Leading Edge Alliance.

I have always gotten remarkable insight at the Winning Is Everything Conferences into what makes the top firms successful. This year was no different, and illustrated why the conference keeps on getting better. It was a sellout this year.

Unlike other conferences, what the three keynotes speakers said all had relevance to accounting firms. One was particularly entertaining, one extremely informative about staffing, and one completely understood the managing partner personality. Gary Boomer’s use of a simple keyboard with the numbers one though nine handed out to one-hundred-plus managing partners obtained invaluable instantaneous benchmarking firm information from those managing partners.

Much of the conference focused on the changing business model and operations of firms, with an emphasis of firm leadership. This was seen in particular in the second day’s managing partner panel. There was also ample discussion on the skills and attributes of the “optimum” partner.

Interestingly, I also noticed a number of things that were better about this year’s attendees. First of all, I came in contact with not just managing partners of the larger regional firms, as in past years, but the managing partners of smaller regional and local firms. What was refreshing was that a number of the managing partners of the larger regional firms were receptive to ideas coming from their interchanges with the many new managing partner attendees.

There were also more women attending. Two that I came in contact with were partners in accounting firms (one involved in marketing, and the other in administration), and two were firm consultants, one who has a company, Crosley + Co., that’s putting on the 2007 Forum for Woman in Accounting in Las Vegas in May, with the Advisory Board.

The third thing that was different was that I was a participant at the conference, not just an attendee, as I conducted two Q&A sessions with Jay Nisberg and Gary Shamis. In addition, the four managing partners on the panel were of the four firms profiled in the Practical Accountant’s April 2006 regional firm survey cover story.

I can’t wait for Jeff or myself to go to next year’s conference, and I am hopeful the focus of that conference is going to be on team leadership at firms. That obviously includes the managing partner, but also includes group and niche leaders, and those responsible for technology, firm administration, and marketing, some of whom are not CPAs, but critical to the success of their firms.

Final Note: Regular readers of Practical Accountant and my WebCPA weekly column probably already know what other conference Jeff and I believe is a “must attend.” For those not sure, you can e-mail Jeff at jeffrey.stimpson@sourcemedia.com, or myself, at howard.wolosky@sourcemedia.com, with a guess, or just to ask me which one it is.

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