Get Joey's free weekly beBetter Leadership blog:

beBetter Blog

Mind the Gap: The Gap Is Bigger

By Joey Havens

Share this post:

We see it every day — automation, implemented well, reduces the amount of compliance work we perform.

We experience it every day — fierce competition from outside our profession pursuing our clients. 

We feel it every day — the market for professional services is demanding and opening the door for “higher-value services.”

These were the phrases I used to describe our “Gap” in early 2018. Are these statements still relevant? Absolutely, not only relevant, the pandemic hit the accelerator on automation, virtual everything, fierce competition, abundance of high-value needs and added fuel to the speed of change. Legacy business models are being challenged and disrupted. 

Our “Gap” in services provided and focused on compared to what the market is needing and demanding is larger now than ever. Not because we haven’t made progress, we have. The pandemic has expanded those opportunities and horizons beyond anything we could have imagined in 2018.  

I do see one thing in common with 2018. We were moving incrementally then and are trying to move incrementally now while the client’s needs have changed exponentially. 

Frankly, we have a “Gap” that has expanded and offers more ways to leap across and capture new and high-value growth. This is such an opportune time for exponential growth, and I want to revisit the four building blocks we introduced in 2018 with a focus on why they are even more relevant for our future success.   

Many practitioners have served their clients well as technical advisors in the past, leading the way for the accounting profession to become the second most trusted profession only behind physicians. But, are we functioning as true business advisors? Given what we see, experience and feel every day, what does it take to meet the new market demands for advisory services? How do we know when a client sees us as their business advisor? This blog series is about elevating the role of advisors and how to best support and lead our clients’ businesses.

Unprecedented disruption and speed of change are transforming, not simply changing, the way we do business. Most of us know in our heads the future of our profession is advisory services, yet most of us find our firms, partners and team members are crippled by what I call “the gap.” The gap is what we do compared to what we know we should or could do. 

Why aren’t our firms moving faster? Why aren’t our partners and managers leaping over to provide more high-value advisory services? Why are our partners and managers not having collaborative conversations with our clients that lead to advisory work? This is the greatest period of uncertainty in my lifetime and our clients are looking for confidence, direction, empathy and strategy.  

Frankly, our prior compliance-driven services do not equip us with the skills or confidence to step into a true anticipatory and strategic advisor role. Legacy success and legacy experiences continue to weigh heavily on our ability to recognize the coming obsolescence of what we do. We have seen growth and higher profitability by simply filling the needs on compliance of new regulations and the sheer demand for help with accounting services. Unfortunately, this fast success built around our existing skillsets can be a trap to stay the course or continue experimenting with incremental changes.  

With this incredible time of opportunity in every facet of business, let’s challenge our plans to provide exponential growth. We will take on more risk while quickly growing more advisory services to succeed. Next week, we will begin to review the four building blocks that can provide the foundation to do this across our firms rather than with a few adopters or hired SMEs. Our firms need reskilling, not just a few leaders. Without focusing on the foundational blocks for advisory, our gap will only widen as someone else will step up to the challenge. In the words of Simon Sinek: If we don’t, someone else will.