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Christmas at the House of Lords

by Anna Koussertari

Celebrating the close of a successful year for the Accounts Payable Community, the APA headed to the ever-prestigious House of Lords on Tuesday, 6th December.

With an iconic backdrop of the Thames and London Eye, around 100 members and partners joined together for a day of networking, socialising and talks from guest speakers, including Lord Alastair Aberdare. Before addressing the future of the Accounts Payable industry, CEO Jamie Radford took the opportunity to reflect upon the past 12 months, which saw the membership reuniting for face-to-face events and the biggest APA Conference.

Diving straight in with the first workshop of the day, UK Small Business Commissioner Liz Barclay led the discussion around ‘Progressing your payment reporting’. The panel touched upon methods of improving the process, its’ benefits, what makes a good report, and, importantly, how to reduce payment terms in support of small businesses. Attendees joined in on the talks, producing numerous interesting solutions and anecdotes; supplier-focused open evenings to encourage communication between Accounts Payable teams and merchants, and the use of detailed vendor onboarding forms to identify small businesses, were just two of the ideas produced by the floor.

The discussion led us to ask – ‘How can the APA aid our membership with the Procure to Pay process?’

Communication is key. By improving our communication with vendors, we can help them to understand how our Accounts Payable functions work, give full disclosure of standard payment terms within the business, and how to request and negotiate shorter payment terms. With plans to produce a ‘Procure to Pay’ communication framework, the APA can help assist members with this message, helping small businesses to be paid faster.

From the Accounts Payable Association to the Government, a shift in how we operate as a country is occurring. Lord Alastair informed the audience of the comprehensive review on tackling late payments for small businesses, in the House of Lords. The Procurement Bill under debate looks to create 30 day payment terms within public supply chains, encouraging more small businesses and SMEs to bid for Government Contracts. A positive move for our industry.

Next up, Mark Harrison, Callisto Grand CEO, was welcomed to the stage. The topic of discussion moved to the next generation of Accounts Payable and strategic plans to encourage greater interest in the sector. When posed with the question of ‘How to encourage more people into the industry?’, the audience were brimming with ideas to highlight their own positive experiences and love for the industry. With APA certifications providing an academic pathway for clear career progression, job stability, and more training available than ever before – it was clear AP has come a long way in becoming an attractive choice for those searching out new opportunities.

Continuing with plans for the future, Jamie Radford expressed his desire to build upon the community’s recent triumphs and achievements, with attention turning to where we would like to see the Association in 2023. With great enthusiasm, guests heard of plans to create an AP Mentorship Scheme in conjunction with Investors in Excellence. With the help of influential industry figures, the scheme will aim to support AP teams in finding their voice, providing the skills to ‘Advocate for Change’. 

Closing the event on a high, Good Business Pays founder Terry Corby was able to celebrate the accomplishments of the industry with the Fast Payer Awards. Compiled of companies from all sectors and areas of the UK, the growing list of ‘Fast Payers’ highlights how more businesses realise the value of true supplier partnerships and the integrity of the supply chain. Accounts Payable are an integral component for achieving faster rates of payment within a business. The awards give the Association and our Community the encouragement to continue pushing our agenda in the New Year and throughout 2023.


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