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Last week I spent the better part of two days attending our APAC region’s virtual conference. I was honored to kick off and close the sessions, and in between I was amazed at the quality of the presentations.

Technology futurist Ian Khan led the first day, confirming many of the discussions we’re having with member firms about the future and working with clients in the current environment. Then a variety of member-driven sessions complemented Ian’s message, highlighting ways we can work together and capitalize on new opportunities.

The overall theme of the conference was Re-Imagine, Re-Position, and Re-Create, and I really enjoyed the focus on turning ideas into real action. There were many actionable moments for members to get involved in new communities that leverage the talents of various firms and focus on generating more work for everyone.

Below are my top three takeaways from this year’s event.

1. The talent war is everywhere. Throughout the conference there was discussion of finding and attracting talent, including how to compete with the Big Four and what we do at the university level. As the pandemic continues, firms are also grappling with new ways of engaging. In a recent McKinsey study, over 50 percent of respondents stated that they’d like to work from home at least three days per week. These preferences have huge implications not only for office culture but also for the ways we recruit new talent. The way we work is changing, and firms need to address those changes proactively to secure the talent they need to thrive in the post-pandemic world.

Similarly, all organizations should be discussing resilience and mental health. Even the strongest firms have team members who live alone or feel stressed, burned out, and unsure of what the future will bring. While this issue is universal across all countries, McKinsey’s recent survey indicated that organizations with clearer communication are seeing positive impacts on employee well-being and productivity. Taking time to clearly articulate policies and communicate about the future can do a world of good for the well-being of your staff.

2. Opportunities abound. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Allinial Global members are honing in on a variety of new opportunities. In his presentation, Craig Stanmore of Enspira Financial discussed many of the areas of service where member firms can assist one another, while Mike Burfield from Bentley’s highlighted biotech opportunities in Australia.

It’s encouraging to see our member firms continuing to look for ways to work together—that’s what’s so important in the relationships built at Allinial Global. Stay tuned for future opportunities where we’ll drive additional regional connections for client accounting and advisory, forensics, transfer pricing, and cyber.

3. The firm of 2019 will NOT be the firm of 2022. We’ve been in a two-year pause. I feel like I’ve been talking about change management consistently the last five. Craig Stanmore referred to a few of my presentations during his session, highlighting how I constantly discuss the 3 Ps of a firm: Process, Product, and People. He then said he wanted to add a fourth: Pandemic. That’s very appropriate. Over the last year I’ve been saying that the firms who have stayed on top of their 3 Ps have managed through the pandemic very well, while those who haven’t kept up on technology are still providing manual compliance services and struggling to figure out work-from-home strategies. But the reality is, all firms have had to manage through the pandemic.

Even as we plan for the future, some firms have partners talking about going back to the old ways. The old ways are gone. Working from home and integrated hybrid relationships are here to stay. Those firms who embrace that change will thrive. Those who fight it will struggle. The pandemic has taught us a ton, and we need to turn those lessons into opportunities.

The two days of sessions at the Asia Pacific Regional Conference were really energizing! I’m excited to be here and proud to say I’m part of Allinial Global. Many thanks to the AG staff and APAC volunteers who made the conference a wonderful experience.

Next up is our first hybrid event—the Executive Team Conference—where we will continue these timely and important discussions. Hope to see you all there, whether in person or online.

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