XU: Trent, tell us more about the awards? Firstly, why do they even exist? You’re not exactly reinventing the wheel here. Awards programmes exist all over the world including your home country, why are you investing so much time into this?
Trent: It’s a great question, and you’re right accounting awards programmes are rampant in most countries. They’re a lot of fun and in most cases do a good job of celebrating the right people.
But I think that’s also my point, as we had this idea I spoke to quite a few people and asked them, “What would you say if we were to launch a new awards programme?” The first question, like yours, was why? But the follow-up was overwhelmingly positive.
A lot of people are unhappy with the current format of awards in this country. They don’t believe the programme has the practitioners best interest at heart. They believe there are award categories that are commercially influenced, and not focused on practitioners who are actually on the tools all day everyday.
We’re hitting reset on the awards format and have one clear vision in mind.
How do we celebrate the right people, in the right way, in the fairest way possible.
All of our judges are practitioners, industry body CEO’s, and leading thought leaders and influencers in Australian Accounting. Not lecturers, not people who have never filed a tax return. Real humans - who have walked the walk.
Our categories are not broken down based on what we can commercially sell to vendors. We’re trying to be uber transparent on what we’re hoping to achieve to help bring the industry on this journey with us.
We’re not trying to make a million dollars on this thing, we’re trying to shine the spotlight back on our community. At a minimum I expect we’ll cover our costs, because it needs to be sustainable now and in the future.
XU: You’re taking a few jabs here at the media companies that have been serving the industry for quite some time, what makes you think you can do it any better? Why should people trust you?
Trent: We are where we are. These initiatives must have balance and I think currently, there’s an imbalance that heavily sways to commercial needs.
To counter this we made some really clear decisions:
Blind judging, no one knows the names or details of the applicants. Judges won’t know the ethnicity, gender - nothing.
Our goal is to shortlist 3-4 people per category. No 10+ people shortlists. Going for the oscars approach. Centralising around the 3 or 4 best people in their category.
All categories are focused on where an accountant or bookkeeper is at in their journey. We also introduced categories we believe the industry should care about like the “Client Impact Award” and our “Community award.”
XU: That’s all really interesting, but why are you guys investing so much time here? You all have full-time jobs, you’ve been involved in other tech startups and accounting communities.
What’s your motivation?
Trent: Anyone that knows me, will know that I throw a lot of energy into big projects. I like to take big swings, and thankfully when it connects - I’ve been fortunate to see a lot of good done for the industry.
Yes - We operate From The Trenches in our spare time. Which hopefully speaks volumes to how much we care about this community and how it transforms over time.
We’re hyper critical, because we’re opinionated and bullish on what we believe the everyday accountant and bookkeeper needs. They’re our people.
XU: Thanks for your time Trent, it sounds like you’ve put a lot of thought into the project.
XU Magazine is happy and proud to be a supporter of the Australian Accounting Industry Awards and we look forward to hearing how it all unfolds on the 1st of December at the awards gala night.