IN OUR OPINION, PERSPECTIVE #95 — November 11, 2019
(A Continuing Series for Leading CPA Firms)
“Becoming a Standout Professional Services Firm”
“The world accommodates you for fitting in, but only rewards
you for standing alone.” —Matshona Dhliwayo, Author
This is the third in a series about the 5 realities in successfully transitioning to a stand-out Professional Services Firm. In previous articles, we discussed why this transition is not optional. In the second we discussed why not all partners can make this transition successfully. In this article, we will discuss the major principles a firm must adopt to become that stand-out firm. In subsequent articles, we will dive into each of the major principles that form the basis of this article.
Managing partner is attending a conference and listens to the Keynote talk about what it means to be a “standout firm”. As the presenter discusses the challenges firms are experiencing in this transition to become a truly standout firm she thinks about her firm and her partners.
At dinner several MPs get into a discussion about the keynote highlighting how their firms are “transforming”. Towards the end of the discussion she asks a question.
“It’s great that most of you are in the process of transforming your firm, but what is the primary approach you are implementing that will make your firm to really standout, differentiate and win more clients” The answers are a lot of generalities like “we are more focused on client service and training” – “we are changing our website and marketing materials” – “we are adding more advisory services”- “we are changing our value and mission statements”.
She realizes that to create a truly standout firm, it’s not about changing at the edges, it’s about changing the very nature of a firm’s DNA. She knows this is no easy task. She started to think through what it means to be a standout firm and the road to transformation she must lead.
She thinks back to her advice to Sam about becoming a true impactful Advisor and the importance of Desire, Belief, Commitment, Education, Confidence and achieving results. She realizes that unless she can get her partners to be standout partners, the firm will never be a standout firm.
She calls her assistant and asks him to schedule a mandatory partners’ meeting; topic – changing our firm’s DNA. She starts to craft the roadmap that will transform the firm to a standout firm.
As she enters the partners’ meeting, she senses anxiety in the room and she launches right into the potential storm.
“I called this meeting to sound the alarm. We are at a pivot point in our firm’s future. We can continue to do business as we have done, try to get better at it and at best we will stay in the middle of the pack. Or, we create a future that will transform our firm to a truly standout firm and become a leader versus a me-to”.
She senses the rise in anxiety and continues.
“I know some, maybe most of you are sitting there thinking what is she talking about. How will this affect me?
“Here’s the deal – who does not want to be a partner in a truly standout firm? Who doesn’t want to serve interesting, challenging and successful clients where we get paid for our work, are appreciated for our service and can see the impact we are having? I do – the question is are you willing to do what it takes?
“I am going share 5 principles we need to weave into our DNA to move from an ok firm to a truly transformed, standout firm. I want you to think about these 5 principles and at our next meeting we will discuss HOW we pivot to the future firm that we need to be.
- We can’t be a standout firm if we don’t have a standout team from top to bottom
- We need to become fully market intelligent so that our services are always aligned with what the market is telling us
- We need to become client centric so that every aspect of our firm is focused on our clients and delivering impactful client service and advice – helping them become more successful
- We need to be technology focused so that we are leading edge in our service delivery and helping our clients remain leading edge
- Finally, we need to be confidently courageous – we need to be trail-blazers with an attitude of “smart aggressiveness” pushing the envelope of who and what we are
“When we are successful in transforming our firm around the 5 principles, we will be a standout firm that will be a leader, that our clients love and that our competitors look UP to”
“Question – Are you ready to become that standout firm and do you believe the market with reward us if we do”?
Transforming a firm that has spent all of its life in the middle to a firm that stands out from all the others is not easy, but a road that all firms can successfully navigate. The challenge is simple, do you have the commitment to transformation, to changing the DNA of your firm, to being true Advisors. The major roadblocks are do you have the courage to take the leap with confidence, commitment and a plan to make the transformation a reality.
In Our Opinion, a firm that tackles the challenge of transforming itself into a truly standout firm will create a firm that attracts the best talent, the best clients and achieves remarkable financial results.
Becoming a standout firm is about understanding that fitting in to the historical definition of what a professional services firm is will lead to mediocrity and eventual decline. For the market to reward you, you must take the leap to transforming your firm building the 5 principles into your firm’s DNA – that is what will make your firm a truly standout firm.
Tony Zecca (CPA and retired CohnReznick partner and National Director of the Advisory Group) is a ESPOSITO CEO2CEO consultant who is brought into client assignments for his skill in strategy, growth and transformation . ESPOSITO CEO2CEO, LLC — a boutique advisory firm consulting to leading CPA and other professional services firms on strategy, succession planning and mergers, acquisitions and integration is actively led by Dom Esposito, CPA. Dom, voted as one of the most influential people in the profession for two consecutive years by Accounting Today, authored a book, published by www.CPATrendlines.com., entitled “8 Steps to Great” which is a primer for CEOs, managing partners and other senior partners. In Our Opinion, is a continuing series of perspectives for leading CPA firms where Dom and his colleagues share insights, experiences and wisdom with firm leaders who want to “run with the big dogs” and develop their firms into sustainable brands. Dom welcomes questions and can be contacted at either firstname.lastname@example.org or 203.292.3277.