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Moss-Adams conference recap; “Back in Black”

June 3rd, 2009

     Today I was given an invite to attend the Moss-Adams conference, “Back in Black – Paving a Path to Profitability”. It was their first in what they hope is an annual event. The conference opened with a number of comments by key Moss-Adams personnel, was followed by three breakout sessions, and ended with a lunch and closing remarks by Pat Haden of Riordan, Lewis, and Haden. RLH was a prime participant in the conference, taking part in a number of the panel discussions.

     Interestingly enough, the previous CEO of Moss-Adams, Bob Bunting, delivered the opening remarks through a pre-taped video. What was worthy of note is that Bunting is currently in Dublin attending an IFAC summit regarding IFRS. Bunting spent quite a bit of time discussing the pending adoption of IFRS and the various considerations. As a bit of validation to some of my recent posts, he directly discussed the lack of training that is currently happening and the absence of an IFRS presence at the University level. As he discussed the specific rollout dates for each country it became apparent to thos in attendance that this is a legitimate issue. In an electroninc poll conducted w/ attendees through the room at the close of the video opening, 84% of attendees believe that IFRS will be mandated in the U.S.. However, Bunting was also quick to comment in his video that the adoption of IFRS was not going to be the result of actions taken by the SEC, but through overall Market pressures that would force the U.S. to adopt the new standards.

     I would like to say that the breakout discussions were incredibly informative, but there seemed to be little new information that was discussed or presented that isn’t already being actively covered daily by the media. Unfortunate for what could have been some very interesting topics. However there were a number of other polls taken in the morning that were interesting.

–  Attendees believed that Domestic opportunities would provide the highest area for growth, with a 54% weighting versus International at 46%.

-Attendees were still somewhat pessimistic when it came to growth in the second half of 2009. Approximately 63% of attendees believed business would be flat to negative 3-8%. Of this number, 29% believed they would encounter declines of greater than 8%.  Only 37% believe that business might improve. Of the optimists, 19% believed business would increase 3-8% and 18% believed business would increase greater than 8%.

-When asked what the biggest key to success would be in 2010, 48% responded it would be “Improved General Economic Conditions”. Of the remainder, 18% mentioned Access to Capital, 16% mentioned Production Improvements, 3% mentioned Competitive Pricing, and the remaining 15% mentioned Internal Efficiencies. What’s worthy to note is the 3% that mentioned competitive pricing. I find tremendous value in the statistic that companies are not looking to improve their situation by engaging in price wars. They are looking to improve operating and production efficiencies.

Thanks for reading . . . .

Jeffrey Ishmael

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