Top tax expert Giles Mooney from PTP Limited kicked off a 13-date roadshow around the Leonard Curtis regional office network yesterday with an online update event gathering followers at pace.

The chartered accountant and tax adviser, who has been training accountants for nearly 20 years and established a reputation for straight-talking tax advice, updated over 30 Lifecycle members from around the company’s Bristol office, via the new channel of choice – Zoom.

Even before the pandemic arrived the demand for collaboration software and video conferencing tools was already on the rise. Lockdown disruption has accelerated this trend exponentially with video conferencing apps seeing a record 62 million downloads worldwide during just one week in March.

Giles and his PTP training partners have adapted quickly as people scrambled to adjust training programmes and committed to moving their training from face to face to online. The focus was on developing online experiences with as much interactivity as possible, keeping numbers low.

Giles commented: “We designed a new online course for a maximum of 80 people and insisted that they were held and positioned as local training for locally-based accountants. Every course is tailored to a particular region, for example Bristol and the South West yesterday, with relevant case studies or scene setting that they recognise.

“This fits perfectly with an organisation like Leonard Curtis which has invested in a regional branch network with Lifecycle members engaging locally with fellow professionals, close to the regional business market with a great understanding of its particular quirks and issues.”

He continued: “But what has surprised us most is how interactive these sessions have become – even more so I would say than the face to face training that we championed for years. The beauty of the chat function in a training broadcast is that you can ask a daft question without worrying – which incidentally is usually the question everyone is waiting to ask – and deal with it live.”

Being familiar with the trainers also helps. Giles again: “Some of the delegates on our courses have been attending our updates for over 20 years so they trust us and indeed each other. And that’s another important aspect of keeping the sessions local. You may not be seeing each other face to face, but you recognise names in chat feeds. It’s as close as we can get to replicating the original events.”

Leonard Curtis has been running free CPD updates for its Lifecycle members for over four years and has always chosen to work with leading experts in the field.  

Rik Heap, Director at Leonard Curtis, who looks after the 3000-strong Lifecycle community, said star quality was a must have for those delivering the updates. He commented: “Anyone who can develop a TV chat show around tax and accounting gets my vote. Giles and his team have been a proven draw for our members – we had an 85% turnout yesterday which is the highest we’ve ever seen.”

And that view was supported by Gavin Roberts, Partner at Maxwell Chartered Accountants in Somerset, who tuned in yesterday and had this to say: “Leonard Curtis’ Lifecycle seminars are always really informative and engaging but I have to commend the Lifecycle team and Giles Mooney from PTP for the Autumn Update where they really hit the nail on the head! ‘Tax planning in difficult economic times’ as we emerge from (or perhaps are still firmly in!) a global pandemic was a stroke of genius. Giles explained the issues clearly in his usual entertaining manner, certainly not a chore for a few hours of CPD! Thank you”.

Giles continued “Our Tax TV journey has been a real eye opener and undoubtedly prepared us for current circumstances. The programmes are produced at full broadcast quality, using our own set and attract a regular following. We based it on the BBC’s long-running Working Lunch model, condensed 500 pages of tax updates every month to 16 and delivered it just like the BBC did,  focused on a piece to camera, interviews and reviews of recent cases. And then we did quarterly Accountancy TV. Every programme we made was a live event which people could access on demand afterwards.”

In fact, had the pandemic not happened, PTP Limited – who toured around the UK using 17 regular venues – would have established ‘online’ as their 18th ‘venue’. Giles again: “There were people who could not get to the events so this would have provided the accessibility and flexibility that since Covid has now become second nature for us all.”

On the actual content of the updates themselves, Giles was typically candid. “Particularly with tax it is very tempting to try to wow people and sound clever like, how to route funds via the Cayman Islands for example, but what most accountants want to hear is practical advice relevant to the here and now. So current topics are tax planning in difficult times and how do I deal with a client going under.”

Leonard Curtis CPD sessions are free for Lifecycle members and will be running to the end of November. For details of a course close to you click here.

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