Russell Bedford members gather in Vienna for the 39th Annual Global Conference

October 2022

Almost 200 guests descended on the majestic city of Vienna, Austria for the 39th Russell Bedford Annual Global Conference which took place at the Vienna Marriott Hotel on 19 -23 October, located in the heart of this historic city.

The first conference of its kind since 2019, it cannot be understated how wonderful it was to resume this flagship event as an in-person conference, which has featured in Russell Bedford’s annual programme of events for almost 40 years. Vienna’s breath-taking architecture and most impressive scenery and parks put a grand stamp on proceedings, adding to an already exciting and hotly anticipated conference.

The meeting opened with pre-dinner drinks and a welcome dinner at the conference hotel, where members had the opportunity to reconnect with friends and colleagues, while welcoming new firms to the network.

Day one of the conference opened with pre-conference networking and for the first time, the network engaged an official host of the conference, presenter and facilitator, Rob Brown. Rob opened the first day of sessions, leading the Executive Session: An interview with Russell Bedford Chair, Bruce Saward, and CEO, Stephen Hamlet.

Up next was Johanna Krumin & quinTTTonic Brass Ensemble, with a fascinating and highly entertaining lesson on Leadership Orchestra.

After a 30-minute networking break, delegates had a choice of three workshops to choose from including, Marketing strategies that really work by Bruno Celidonio and Simone Wesiak, Business valuation: techniques, trends and technology by Paul Resch (Valutico) and Leadership Orchestra workshop with Johanna Krumin & quinTTTonic Brass Ensemble.

After the workshop sessions, delegates broke for a networking lunch and to continue their discussions with colleagues.

The afternoon programme had another set of workshop sessions to choose from including, New international quality management standards: Are we ready? led by Jim Sylph, Soft Landing: Attracting business from inward investors by Roberto Cruz and colleagues and a Roundtable discussion for German speaking members.

Following another opportunity to network, rebuild relationships and establish new ones, the first day’s sessions concluded with updates from some of the network’s newest firms in Amman, Bangkok, Bern, Dallas, Frankfurt, Graz, Malta and Zagreb.

In the evening, delegates gathered, together with their non-delegate guests, for the evening programme which took place at the spectacular 57 Restaurant at Meliá Vienna. Guests enjoyed drinks, dinner and music in Austria’s tallest building, with stunning night city views.

Day two of the conference commenced with pre-conference networking, followed by opening remarks from Rob Brown.

The opening session was led by guest speaker, Hélio Vogas, with a highly entertaining, interactive session, Safe Danger: taking risk doesn't need to be dangerous.

Next, delegates heard from Angus Farr, director of training provider, Training Counts, who explored The 5 emerging challenges of managing hybrid accountants.

After a networking break, delegates chose from another selection of workshops including, Finding the One: recruitment and selection skills by Angus Farr, Practice management systems: compare and contrast led by Eser Amorim and Peter Shields and Cyber Security for you and your clients by Alon Amit.

After an excellent morning programme, delegates broke for a networking lunch.

The afternoon sessions began with a very interesting panel discussion on Sustainability – the business case. Panellists included Michael Sweeney, new APAC Board Director from Russell Bedford’s Adelaide member firm, Lina Lemessiou, Russell Bedford’s incoming Director of Professional Standards and Deanna Salo, North America Board Director from the Russell Bedford’s Chicago member.

After the ever-important networking break, Lina Lemessiou took to the stage once more to close the meeting with her session, An update on changing regulations affecting accounting and auditing.

French-speaking members came together following the main meeting to discuss opportunities for collaboration between their firms.

Delegates and their guests joined once more in the evening for drinks and dinner at a traditional wine tavern, Mayer am Pfarrplatz. Guests enjoyed an evening of traditional Austrian cuisine and music, amongst authentic traditional Viennese surroundings. 

The final day of the conference commenced with pre-conference networking and opening remarks by Stephen Hamlet.

In his farewell session, outgoing Audit Quality Consultant, Jim Sylph, delivered his final update to delegates in his Quality Management Report. Delegates expressed their gratitude to Jim and his many years of dedication to the network with a standing ovation.

Next, Peter Allwright (Suntera Forensics) took delegates on a fascinating journey to learn about the enthralling world of forensic accountancy, in his session Following the money: the role of the forensic accountant.

Delegates reconnected over the final networking break of the conference before a Feedback Session and the Annual General Meeting.

Looking ahead to the location for Annual Global Conference 2023, Marcel Bergeron, partner at FBL, Russell Bedford’s Montreal member firm, joined to share An Introduction to Montreal, in anticipation of next year’s event.

Before delegates dispersed, Daniel Ryba, Russell Bedford Argentina, stepped up as new Russell Bedford International Chair, replacing Bruce Saward, Saward Dawson, Melbourne.

The network bid farewell to Bruce -and Klaus-Peter Hillebrand, Global Board Director of EMEA, for some 12 years, and partner at Domus, Berlin and took a trip down memory lane, in an emotional video recap of their time as Board Directors and Bruce as Chair. Another round of applause and standing ovation were extended for two huge contributors to the network.

Following the close of the day programme, delegates enjoyed lunch with their colleagues and had the opportunity to explore the many sights and treasures of Vienna for the afternoon.

In the evening, delegates and their guests rejoined for the grand finale of this year’s conference, with a drinks reception and Gala Dinner at the spectacular Palais Ferstel, a venue steeped in history. Guests enjoyed the majestic palace surroundings among the sound of a string quartet, adding to the grandeur of the evening and later, a party band. A most fitting end to a wonderful conference.

CEO, Stephen Hamlet, added: “After a long three years of being apart for the global meeting, it has been absolutely fantastic to be back together, in our forces, for this truly memorable event. This conference has been bursting with so much positivity and energy from our members. We’ve had a top-class programme of speakers, incredible collaboration and a great deal of sentiment and appreciation for what we have been through, where we now are, and looking forward to even greater things to come.”

He added: “The stunning, historic city of Vienna was truly a sight to behold, putting the icing on the cake of an already exhilarating event. This year’s Gala Dinner at the majestic Palais Ferstel, was the ultimate crescendo to the most incredible four days spent in Vienna. A huge thank you to our guest speakers, delegates and their guests who made this conference one that will be difficult to forget.”

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