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What we’ve always done isn’t what we’ll always do

Looking for a reason why you need to do things differently? How about this?

“The accounting profession,” says Allan Koltin, “is dying.”

That’s a bit apocalyptic for my tastes, so let’s qualify that a bit: The profession as we have long known it is changing before our very eyes, Koltin told the crowd at Winning Is Everything, a future-focused practice management conference in Las Vegas. He cited studies that calculate the growth rates of various segments of the profession over the next few years. Those rates look like this:

  • Tax and accounting: 0 to 3 percent
  • Tax solutions: 5 to 10 percent
  • Advisory and value-added services: 10 to 20 percent
  • Wealth management: 20 to 200 percent

The moral? Our profession’s core is slowly disappearing. What we’ve always done isn’t what we’ll always do.

The good news is that the need for CPAs is greater than ever. Clients are hungry for a new kind of CPA who can deliver cutting-edge business advisory and wealth-management services that will help them thrive in a changing and complex world.

That means CPAs are going to have to do things a bit differently.

  • They’ll need to learn a boatload of new skills. As Fast Company editor Robert Safian explains, in an era as chaotic as this one, the most important skill any of us can possess going forward is the ability to learn new skills.
  • In fact, they’ll need to make learning a core value and look for ways they can incorporate it into everything they do.
  • They’ll need to learn to anticipate disruption and position their organizations to take advantage of it before it arrives.
  • And they’ll need to hire the best and brightest people they can find to lead their firms into the future. Doing so won’t be easy. Every firm on the planet is pulling out all the stops to convince bright, young CPAs to come work for them.

“The white gloves have come off in the search for talent. They’ve been replaced by boxing gloves,” Koltin said. “I don’t know anything that’s more important today than the war for talent.”

How do you win that war? By being a firm that people want to work for.

Have a vision for the future. Do work that matters. Give your people a clear career path. Invest in your people through professional development and leadership training. And remember: Ramping them up to lead is about more than their career development. It’s about succession planning and your firm’s future. Quit asking, “What happens if we invest in our people and they leave?” Start asking, “What happens if we don’t and they stay?”

In the end, Koltin said, the “firms of the future” will be marked by great leadership, stellar talent, a balance between profits and innovation, a commitment to cutting-edge technology, and above all, a mindset that’s devoted to solving problems and adding value.

Is that you? Are you ready to transform what you do, or are you clinging to a disappearing core?

Your future depends on the answer.

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