The GAAP.net and the Toronto Accounting Group
The GAAP.net was started by Paul Calleri to provide up to date accounting information. Later it created networking opportunities accountants in the Greater Toronto Area. From the beginning it was intended to be a prime source of information. Accountants would access the site to learn about IFRS, which was being introduced about the same time, to become aware of job opportunities, and to have access to quality events for professional development, and to network with their peers.
These events were held in the dining room of a Richmond Hill restaurant. Large enough for 200+ attendees and central enough to reach from most areas of the GTA. Eventually these events became popular enough that it attracted sponsorship and regular participants who were anxious to contribute their own talents. They participated by becoming speakers and event moderators. A critical mass was achieved in that opportunities for learning were self-perpetuating. Then came covid19.
Covid19 quickly changed what was allowed. Traveling to a central area to a restaurant crowded with other dinners and sharing meals with other people was no longer permitted. Meetings of the TheGAAP.net group could have gone into hiatus and waited out the pandemic. Instead, the group leaders decided to adapt to their new situation and changed their model entirely.
First, this being a professional group, members were familiar with Zoom and other modes of virtual meetings. Many of them had VPN’s installed on personal computers so they could work from home. It was a simple progression to apply this to group events. And so, a Zoom format was used as a trial. This turned out to be very popular and adopted on a regular basis. Members never needed to leave home and the format allowed communication with all in attendance, including a question period. It meant that the group could continue to operate much as before.
Second, the group now included several professional people who could share their experiences as presenters or sponsors. Expertise included asset management, networking, investment, and many others. These people were able to create worthwhile presentations that qualified for professional development credits and became a sought after for this reason alone.
There were advantages to this format. Space did not need to be reserved at nearby restaurants and meals did not need to be prepared. These savings were passed on to the attendees who were now able to access quality events at no cost to them. Any fees for the presenter were covered by the sponsor. Also, attendees were no longer limited by location. Participants included people from Saskatchewan, Quebec and Nigeria. Anyone with ties to the TheGAAP.net could attend.
What can be learned is that a crisis should never be wasted. It is in states of disruption that an impetus develops to make changes because the need becomes apparent. There are many things that people are now doing because of covid19. These are now being taken for granted and will continue long after this crisis has passed. Organizations must adapt to survive and covid19 has amplified the process.
The GAAP.net and the Toronto Accounting Group are open to interested parties. More information can be obtained by email to email@example.com
William Petryk is the resident resource reviewer here at TheGAAP.net. A graduate from the Schulich School of Business at York University and designated CMA, William Petryk is an accomplished accountant with years of experience.