The Bookkeepers Summit is the UK’s flagship event for bookkeepers. It’s a place where you can be sure that your voice is heard and your professional expertise is exalted. 

When June and Garry Carter founded ICB in 1996, they did so because they understood how vital the role of a bookkeeper is. They believed that bookkeeping deserved recognition as a profession unto itself, distinct from the work of accountants or administrators. 22 years later there are now more than 40,000 Certified Bookkeepers across the world and over 150,000 ICB students studying towards the ICB’s globally recognised designation. ICB members are increasingly taking advantage of the exemptions into Chartered Accountancy that their qualifications earn them and, this autumn the very first ICB Apprentices begin their placements, choosing a new funded route into membership and professional status.

Since 1996 ICB’s highly skilled and trail-blazing community of bookkeepers has demonstrated that good bookkeeping has the power to transform businesses and the lives of the people that run them. In the UK, over 3.5k bookkeeping businesses are supervised by ICB; a population greater than the number of registered audit firms supervised by ICAEW.

‘When you consider that we have some of the toughest exams in the whole of the accountancy profession, it really does say something that we have grown the way we have,’ says ICB’s head of technical policy, Jacquie Mount FICB. ‘To pass our Self Assessment Tax exam you need to get at least 98%. That’s unheard of in the education world! But that’s why there’s so much demand for ICB Bookkeepers - it’s the standard they uphold.’ 

Work is complete on the latest evolution of ICB’s fiercely independent syllabus. Allison Wildish, ICB head of qualification standards and quality assurance, explains; ‘Because we’re not beholden to the regulatory fluctuations of OfQual, we’re free to make our exams as practical as possible, and to insist on stringently high pass marks. Our new syllabus, which is released in January 2019, reflects the fundamental shift in the bookkeeper’s role that we’ve seen in the last five years. We’re here to future-proof the next generation of bookkeepers and to ensure their role stays relevant in a rapidly changing world.’

As AI appears set to take over much of the work people do over the next 15-20 years, ICB will continue to ensure that bookkeepers are best placed to exploit powerful new technologies. Together with members, we’re building a radical roadmap that focuses on life-long learning in both the hard and soft skills needed to harness technological change and understand the needs of the businesses you work for. What makes you not just a bookkeeper, an ICB Bookkeeper, is that it’s never just data to you; you’re solving human problems and helping businesses make better decsions and drive success.

This year’s Bookkeepers Summit will feature a roundtable discussion on the Future of Bookkeeping between the leading suppliers of accounting software. Mike Day, head of education sector at Xero, is vocal about the distinctly agile way in which bookkeepers have adopted the cloud, ‘What we’ve seen is that bookkeepers move fast; they’ve adapted and, because they work so closely with clients, they can identify exactly what software and which apps will be the best fit and make sure they’re used effectively.’ Whilst there’s a new focus on expanding digital skills, 2018 has seen an increase in members updating their technical skills through on-demand Level IV tax modules in FRS 105 and 102.1a. Asked to comment, Mike says ‘It’s the right direction, ICB Bookkeepers are often hybrid bookkeeper-accountants.’

Adam Blake MICB, Finance Director at Capita, is excited about the future, ‘The role of the bookkeeper is becoming more and more important. There are 5.5 million micro businesses out there and they don’t all need an accountant. Yes, you’d want a specialist for complex tax and things like group consolidated accounts, but will you still have these big, over-head heavy, accountancy firms in the future? I think we’ll be seeing more fluid models.’

The 74% of ICB members who are women are certainly taking advantage of more fluid models of employment afforded to them through their membership of a body that has the highest female population of the accountancy profession population (average 36% across the accountancy bodies*). ‘In the UK more and more women are choosing self-employment (up 46% between 2013 and 2016) and they’re citing greater flexibility in how they can approach their work and set their working hours,’ says ICB director of communications, Ami Copeland. ‘Bookkeeping is a great career for those wanting to become self-employed and ICB has helped thousands of people take that leap. As a business, bookkeeping is totally scalable to fit around family or other commitments, and 30% of our practices now employ at least one person.’

Running alongside keynote sessions with the most influential minds of the profession, the Bookkeepers Summit workshop programme will feature targeted training sessions on setting up, marketing and scaling a bookkeeping business. Regulatory updates and an annual anti-money laundering refresher session are also set to be popular.

‘I highly recommend the Bookkeepers Summit - you can find out about everything that’s on the horizon and take a look at all the different types of software,’ says ICB student of the year, Chrissie Aplin MICB, who recently shared some of her revision tips in a webinar for ICB students. Finding out that students will be catered for at the Summit with core syllabus revision sessions, Chrissie commented, ‘when you’re studying by distance learning, or running your own business, you needn’t be alone. You’d think you’d be lonely but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The ICB community is really supportive and I’ve met so many people along the way who have helped me. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and meet other students and members. We’re all here to help each other.’

The Bookkeepers Summit is a two-day conference open to ICB students and members at a discounted rate, and non-members are also welcome to attend. This year the Summit App has an in-built social network to make meeting like-minded bookkeepers even easier.

More information and tickets

*Source: Key Facts and Trends in the Accountancy Profession, FRC 2018