Accounting & Auditing | Change / transformation

It’s not busy season … it’s ‘opportunity season’

The diamonds are in the rough, folks. It’s up to us to find them.

Case in point: The rest of the world calls it “busy season.” For the folks at DeLeon and Stang, it’s “opportunity season.”

“This is the time of year when we do something for almost all of our clients,” said Allen DeLeon, the firm’s founding partner. “It’s a great opportunity to ask our clients some simple questions: How are they doing? What’s going on in their lives? How can we help them become just a bit more future-ready? How can we go beyond the routine tax return and help them take their businesses to the next level?”

There are tons of great opportunities embedded in those questions — and not just for the firm to sell more services and make more money. The real opportunities lie in DeLeon and Stang’s ability to help its clients solve big problems, spot future trends early, and become more future-ready. Firms that do that are no longer mere business advisors — they’re trusted business partners.

That’s exactly what clients want from their CPAs — a partnership that’s focused on future-readiness.

A 2014 report from The Sleeter Group found that the most often-cited reason why small and mid-size businesses leave their CPA firms is because those firms provide reactive advice instead of proactive services. In essence, clients say they leave because their CPAs aren’t future-ready enough … and aren’t helping them become future-ready, either.

The key, it seems, is to move beyond accounting. CPAs must start moving beyond the historical data that has traditionally driven this profession and start helping clients identify the weak signals of disruptive change before they start disrupting us. Doing that means learning to become future-ready ourselves.

Which brings me back to DeLeon and Stang’s “opportunity season.”

The firm adopted the phrase after all of its employees studied the groundbreaking Anticipatory Organization: Accounting and Finance Edition learning program in its entirety. (In the photo above, that's Allen DeLeon on the left with Anticipatory Organization creator and world-renowned futurist Daniel Burrus.) The program is designed to help accounting and finance professionals jump-start their ability to anticipate future trends and take advantage of the opportunities those trends offer.

Using short, three- to five-minute, single-concept videos, the transformative program teaches professionals critical competencies like strategic thinking, external awareness, vision, continuous learning, innovation, creativity, problem solving, prioritization, business acumen, decisiveness, influencing / persuading, emotional intelligence, consensus building, collaboration, inspiration, and risk management.

It goes even further, though. Through the use of job aids and rapid application tools, The Anticipatory Organization teaches professionals to apply what they’ve learned directly to their own jobs and immediately put those lessons to work.

After using The Anticipatory Organization to learn how to become more future-ready, DeLeon and Stang employees decided to adopt a more future-focused vocabulary this spring. After turning “busy season” into “opportunity season,” they had rubber wrist bracelets produced with the motto “We are anticipatory!” emblazoned on one side. Banners promoting an anticipatory mindset appeared throughout the DeLeon and Stang office. “Your future view will determine the future you,” reads one. “Become an opportunity manager,” reads another. Yet another reads, “Choose to be extraordinary!”

That change in mindset has become contagious throughout the firm.

“Clients really appreciate the fact that we’re willing to listen to them and try to help them become a bit more future-ready,” DeLeon said. “It’s amazing how many people call up this time of year and say, ‘I know you’re busy and don’t have time to talk with me.’ We always say, ‘No, of course we have time to talk with you.’ That attitude shift makes all the difference.”

Turns out your future view really does determine your future view … not to mention the future of your clients’ businesses.

Keep hunting those opportunities.


William D. Sheridan