No Budget for All Team Members to Attend AP Conferences? Network Here for Free

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The Merriam-Webster definition of a conference is “a meeting of two or more persons for discussing matters of common concern.”  For Accounts Payable, there are annual conferences, held at great venues, where for 2 or 3 days team members can meet and network with like-minded professionals, learn from subject matter experts (SMEs) on current trending topics, and even grow by getting the opportunity to present as a practitioner on a project they contributed to or led.  Let’s face it, we all know that budgets don’t allow every Accounts Payable (AP) team member to go to conference every year.  So how do ensure you or your team members are getting those same benefits?  Read on.  Bonus:  At the end is one question that will always provide at least 10 minutes of conversation with a new colleague!  

Local Chapter of National AP Organizations

I’ll be the first to admit, I love going to AP conferences.  There is an energy you feel when your peers that have the same pain points, SMEs, and 3rd party providers are all gathered together to talk with you and arm you with the latest knowledge, solutions for your existing problems, and some nice swag.  In my former role in AP leadership, I was afforded that option, but not my team members.  I wanted to bring that same energy to my team members and give them the opportunity to see how other AP team members handled the same issues they were having.  Answer:  Local Chapters of National AP Organizations. 

The purpose of the local chapters is to provide continuing education and the ability to network with other professionals.  Quarterly meetings can either be lunch or dinner and there is always a topic that is delivered by a subject matter expert or a sponsor.  Yes, the sponsor may be a 3rd Party Provider, but where else do you get to hear about a new AP solution, eat (most likely free) and be able to discuss it with your peers in real time?  Sounds like a conference to me.   Other benefits:

  • Meet AP professionals in companies in the same industries or ERPs.  Great to get a new perspective on how the same pain points can be handled differently

  • Learn what the current issues are and what your peers are doing to handle them.  From phishing threats to how they setup Business Partner in SAP and more.

  • Volunteer to present.   Want to hone your professional speaking skills with a small group you know?  This is the place. 

  • Volunteer to be a leader:  Want to hone your leadership skills?  Running a local chapter includes marketing, partnering with sponsors, event management, etc. 

  • Build a network in between meetings.  Ask questions, bounce ideas off them or meet with them separately to do a deeper dive on a specific topic or pain point that they have resolved.   

If you are an AP leader and want your team members to stay on top of current trends, or if you are an AP team member and want to engage with other like minded professionals on current topics check out two options below. 

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Institute of Financial Operations.  You may know that they offer the CAPP and CAPA AP Certifications, but did you know they also have local chapters?  For more information email or learn more here

  • Canada

  • Florida

  • Georgia

  • Minnesota

  • New Jersey

  • Eastern Pennsylvania

  • North Texas

  • Virginia

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Institute of Finance & Management.  They offer the APS and APM AP certifications, and eight local chapters.  Attendance at the meetings count toward CEUs required to maintain your certification.  Click here for more information.

  • Baltimore | Washington, DC

  • Houston

  • Illinois

  • Milwaukee

  • Nashville

  • New York (NYC)

  • Oklahoma Central Region

  • Pittsburgh

No local chapter in your area?  How about starting one?  That’s what we did in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Listen to the podcast for more information. 

Click the podcast above to hear more detail about the Oklahoma Central Region IOFM Chapter in Tulsa, Ok.  Join me and podcast guest, Ashley Brinkley, Vice President, as we discuss the why we started the chapter, the benefits of being a leader, what you can expect at meetings and how attending meetings can help to grow your career.     

Bonus:  Every time I meet new colleagues and tell them that I help public and private sector clients implement authentication techniques, internal controls and best practices to reduce the potential for fraudulent payments, each person has a story of how they or someone in their company thwarted a phishing email.  Every. Time.  Strike up a conversation with a new colleague by asking “Have you seen a phishing email lately?”

Protect the Vendor Master File from Fraud.  Keep it Clean. 


#stayhappy #accountspayable #iofm #ashleybrinkleyapm #oklahomacentralregioniofmchapter


Debra R. Richardson,


Debra is an accounts payable speaker, consultant, and trainer with over 20 years of experience in AP, AR, general ledger, and financial reporting for Fortune 500 companies including Verizon, General Motors and Aramark.

For the past eight years, Debra has focused on Global Vendor Maintenance, and implemented a vendor self-registration portal for 140k+ global vendors across five Accounting Systems/ERPs. In her consultancy, she focuses on internal controls and authentication to prevent fraud in the vendor master file.