By Driss El Kohen (Casablanca, Morocco)
There are several reasons why BKR should choose to hold their EMEA annual meeting in Barcelona.
For History – since the Romans, Moors, Carolingians (to name a few) were there. For Culture - the Renaissance, Catalan literature, famous artists and impressionists. For Architecture and sculpture - the world-famous landmarks (La Pedrera, Sagrada Familia, Eixample…). But also, for its “Savoir Vivre” (avant-garde or Mediterranean gastronomy, entertainment), and not to mention: FC Barcelona!
Before experiencing all these points of interest, our EMEA Regional Meeting began on Saturday 7th May, following the previous day’s Board meeting, in the Hotel Condes de Barcelona, located on the large avenue Paseo de Gracia, in the heart of Modernist Barcelona and down the road from the famous Gaudi building La Pedrera.
welcomed all guests, with some examples of the magnificence of his City, and its outstanding football team. Even Chairman Peter Janssen (Arnhem)
paid some recognition, comparing it with glory of Ajax Amsterdam! In his usual great spirits, Steven Bruck (London)
presented the region’s accounts, summarising our financial position, finally relinquishing his five dedicated years and great service to the region as its Treasurer.
Presentations of the Standards Committee by Pascal Bejon (Paris)
and the Tax Committee by Arcangelo Agogliati (Milan)
were provided, encouraging everybody to put into practice our credo “Learn… share… grow with BKR”. This was highly demonstrated in our Worldwide Chairman’s Report by Don Timmins (Ottawa)
, whose presentation was preceded by regional reports from the Americas - Michael Savoy (Santa Monica)
– and from Asia-Pacific – Stephen Roger (Sydney)
Standardised Business & Financial Reporting was presented by our first external speaker, Harm Jan van Burg from The Hague, which gave us an idea as to what is being progressively used in several countries to facilitate online filing for tax purposes, through XBRL (extensive business language).
Stephen Hamlet (London)
, our region’s Executive Director, presented issues on the horizon affecting the Audit Profession, and how the European Commission’s Green Paper on Audit Policy may lead to dramatic developments for all those involved in audit practice. We were also informed of his assistance in developing the new BKR Asia-Pacific Regional website (http://www.bkrasiapac.com
), which was created using the same technology and similar design as the BKR EMEA Regional website (http://www.bkremea.com
IT security was another issue of increasing current importance. Information must be protected with the proliferation of media. Ian Shaw from MWR InfoSecurity (London) provided an interesting account of the broad issues.
In the afternoon, breakout groups were dedicated to three sessions. The first one being a comparison of tax treatments of property income / local tax systems. The second group discussed the EC Green Paper on Audit Policy and related auditing issues. The third session was devoted to providing ideas and practices in order to generate opportunities between firms. Discussions included examples where firms may benefit from BKR membership, including Strategic Alliances with First Research Industry Profiles, Profit Cents, membership of Practice Groups/Committees and regional groups, precedent materials for tenders submissions, first time client meetings, due diligence and business valuations. For more details refer to the BKR International website: http://www.bkr.com
We concluded the business part of the day with specialist meetings for the committees and a Middle East Meeting, involving David Barzilay (London)
, who provided his expertise as to how to promote BKR in the Press.
On the way to the Gala Dinner, three buses took us on a tour; leaving the hotel, passing through the Passeig de Gracia, up to the Plaça de Catalunya, and other places of interest like Barri Gòtic, Las Ramblas, the statue of Christopher Colombus ...before climbing up to the heights of Montjuic, where we watched the display of the Magic Fountains, a grandiose of water, sounds and light. At the Montjuïc Xalet restaurant, under the privileged view of the city of Barcelona, we enjoyed an unforgettable moment of fine dishes of Mediterranean cuisine and excellent Rioja, followed by the cheerful atmosphere of the disco, until the last bus took us back some minutes past midnight as the heavens erupted with heavy rainfall.
On Sunday, 8th May 2011, all delegates and companions left Barcelona, for sightseeing to Figueres (160 km north) to visit the world famous Dalí Theatre-Museum. For many of us, this experience was an astonishing discovery, to see masterpieces and other personal objects. The artist was all but conformist!
We then enjoyed a typical lunch at El pa volador,
providing another moment of animated exchange between BKR members, with the food seemingly never-ending, in a superbly decorated ball room.
In the bus after lunch, some had a rest before reaching Girona, a great city treating us to its annual festival of flowers. With beautiful colours along the river, this medieval town provided an excellent setting to finish the day. Flowers lined the cobbled paths up to the magnificent cathedral.
A long and pleasant day concluded with a delightful dinner in the modern, all-in-white interior designed, El Principal restaurant.
On Monday, 9th May 2011, our business agenda resumed with Peter Janssen (Arnhem)
expanding upon the topic he introduced on the Saturday regarding the proposed integration of the administration of the EMEA and Asia-Pacific regions. Peter explained how it is intended that the two regions will retain their separate identities but will increasingly find opportunities to work together in view of their many common interests, with periodic combined Board meetings and regional conferences being envisaged.
After feedback from each Breakout Group from Saturday afternoon, Joan B. Casas (Barcelona)
promoted the Mediterranean Arch Euroregion as a Gateway to Europe. Mare Nostrum is to relaunch !
This was followed by a most interesting and informative presentation from Geert Van Peteghem (Aalst)
of our new Belgium member firm, MVP.
Andre Buijsman (Almere)
impressed us all with his talk on the GIBO Groep/Flynth (‘mega’)-merger and the unique business model, paving the way to being the most important network of offices throughout the Netherlands.
The Statistical Analysis was as ever an interesting topic and, as per every year, thanks to the most entertaining way it is presented by Les Nutter (Manchester)
. Benchmarking is forever meaningful and should provide challenges, as well as indications for opportunities, to everyone in their search for productivity and/or growth.
For the case study, the Client was Grup Serhs and presented by Jordi Bagó (Barcelona). It showed us how a cooperative in three decades metamorphosed into a large group covering agro-industry, tourism, equipment, and much more…
As the meeting approached its climax, we looked forward to 2012’s conference in Malta, promoted by our host for next year, Ray Mercieca (San Gwann)
Finally, as is customary, Peter Janssen
thanked Daniel Faura
and his Barcelona team for hosting a most successful and enjoyable conference.
An excellent Farewell lunch of various Tapas dishes was served on the roof terrace bar, providing amazing panoramic views, under a delightful sunny sky.
Our companions also had the opportunity, while we were busy working, to visit the Picasso Museum, La Pedrera , and La Sagrada Familia. They also visited a Mosaic workshop, where they saw how Gaudi used mosaic techniques in all of his creations and learned how such technique works to make their own composition with glazed ceramic, to take away as a souvenir.
On behalf of all participants I thank our hosts, Faura-Casas
, for their hospitality during what was perceived by all as a fabulous BKR event !