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Virtually Live 2021 opens with focus on sustainable business


Published: 14 Jun 2021

ICAEW’s flagship digital conference opens tomorrow by exploring the post-COVID recovery and what it means to be a sustainable business. The three-day virtual event, which will also tackle audit reform, the future of tax and the impact of digitalisation, is free for all ICAEW members, students and our wider communities.

Opening with a keynote on the sustainability of business from Lord Karan Bilimoria, president of the CBI, followed up by a panel session exploring the impacts of the pandemic across the world, Virtually Live 2021 aims to help ICAEW members and students look to the future.

ICAEW President William Brooks said: “Following the overwhelming success of last year’s inaugural event, we’re delighted to once again be delivering our ‘Virtually Live’ summit to members this year. The virtual format makes this a truly global event, enabling members from across the world to join us in real time and benefit from the insight and discussions on offer.”

The event boasts 60 sessions spread across three days tackling post-pandemic recovery, sustainability and trust in the profession, as well as technical updates and personal development.

Live sessions include high-profile speakers such as the FRC’s CEO Sir Jon Thompson, HMRC’s Ruth Stanier, Director General Customer Strategy and Tax Design, and Lord Clement-Jones, co-chair of the all-parliamentary group on artificial intelligence, as well as respected technical experts including Rebecca Benneyworth and Jon Selwood.

Brooks confirmed: “We have an impressive line-up of outstanding speakers, including some of our own members in business and practice, who’ll be providing their expertise in a comprehensive variety of sessions across the three days.

“The sessions have been crafted around ICAEW’s Strategy, which is helping members respond to the challenges and opportunities of the decade ahead, not least at this critical time of economic recovery. I look forward to us once again bringing members together for this flagship event.”

Alongside the live programme delegates can join virtual networking at lunchtimes to discuss what they have seen with their peers, as well as access 19 on-demand sessions and a range of supporting content from ICAEW.

COVID-19 and Brexit

With a focus on the future, Virtually Live 2021 will explore what post-COVID recovery will look like and how we will get there. Insights can be gained from experiences around the world, and ICAEW’s Iain Wright, Managing Director, Reputation and Influence, will find out more about how business leaders view the future in a live session on 15 June. 

Attendees of Virtually Live will also be able to hear about entrepreneurs navigating the challenges and opportunities of the global landscape, while members in practice will share their experiences of advising clients during the pandemic.

Virtually Live sessions will also consider other challenges that businesses have faced, including adapting to Brexit. Panellists will look at issues such as physical trade, the impact on the provision of services, how the workforce will change and how supply chains have been affected.

Sustainable development

Alongside Lord Bilimoria’s keynote outlining his vision for a future of sustainable organisations, the first day of Virtually Live includes a panel discussion on the Dasgupta Review featuring Paul Johnson, Director of the Institute of Fiscal Studies, and Emily McKenzie, the Head of Evidence and Policy for the Dasgupta review. The session will consider what the implementation of the review’s recommendations might look like if adopted and what the practical implications would be for business.

Trust in the profession

On 16 June, Virtually Live will focus on trust in the profession. A keynote address by Sir Jon Thompson, CEO of the Financial Reporting Council, will provide an update on important issues, challenges and questions that have emerged following the UK government’s proposals for governance and audit reform.

Meanwhile the session  “Audit: what good looks like”  will provide insights into a project being undertaken with ICAEW’s Quality Assurance Department and member audit firms to produce practical case studies on approaching real-world audit problems.

Simone Taylor-Allkins, from ICAEW’s Technical Advisory Service, will discuss common types of fraudulent activity, reporting requirements and the support available, while an update on latest developments in financial reporting will focus on current challenges and best practice.

The future of tax

COVID-19 has led to unprecedented levels of government support and also the UK’s biggest peacetime fiscal deficit. On 16 June, ICAEW’s Head of Tax, Frank Haskew, will chair a keynote panel discussion looking at how tax policy should change to encourage growth while trying to raise extra revenue to address public sector debt.

Tax consultant Rebecca Benneyworth will also be providing a technical update on recent developments in tax policy and practice in a separate session on 16 June.

Other issues covered during Virtually Live this year include the latest on Making Tax Digital for income tax; a business rates update by Director of ICAEW Technical Policy John Boulton; insights on capital allowances; and top tax policy tips from ICAEW’s Senior Tax Policy Adviser Anita Monteith.

New technologies and the future workforce

Key themes on day three of the conference include the impact of technology on skills and work; the importance of attracting talent and building diversity into the profession; and mental health and wellbeing. 

Futurist Sophie Hackford will be delivering a keynote address on 17 June, examining how we work, live and transact in a robot world. Automation, artificial intelligence, data analytics and data storage are among topics that will be covered in sessions with Virtually Live partners during the three-day conference.

COVID-19 has increased the pace of digital transformation in many businesses and technology has been crucial in allowing remote working during the pandemic. As organisations consider whether, and how, to move forward with flexible or hybrid working arrangements post-pandemic, Virtually Live presents an opportunity for practitioners to hear from others facing the same challenges.

Don’t miss out visit live.icaew.com to register or join the sessions on the day.

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