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Pulling Back the Curtain Can Be A Defining Moment

By Joey Havens

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As Barry Melancon presented at the AICPA Women’s Global Leadership Summit, today is the slowest pace of change we will experience in our profession for the next five years. Transformation in our services, how we market, how we audit, how we consult and how we work will only increase exponentially. TODAY is the SLOWEST. Would you believe we have experienced a change in 31% of the Top 100 public accounting firms in the last ten years? Nearly a third turnover in the largest firms. Obviously mergers, acquisitions and new growth firms have contributed to this high rate of change. But what do you think the pace of change in the Top 100 will be over the next five years? Will this pace increase or decrease? I personally suspect we will have significantly more turnover in the Top 100 Firms during the next three years, much less in the next ten. There, I said it, and frankly, I am not alone in expecting this type of transformation.   

A quick survey of eight top 100 CPA firm managing partners showed predictions ranging from 20% to 50% change in the Top 100 during the next 36 months starting in 2018. The fact that 2018 is on another record-setting pace for M&A in CPA firms, these predictions might not be too far-fetched!

Truthfully, our ability to be aware, predict and adapt is key to being future ready as a profession and relevant for our clients. The more our profession leads and succeeds during this transformation benefits all firms, CPAs and most of all — our clients. Our trust factor, which is one of the highest among professionals, is only relevant if we are relevant. We might trust the professionals who designed our office telephone systems but as we convert to wireless telecommunications, they become irrelevant and, in fact, they slow us down! Are our firms selling historical views or future views?

This rapid transformation in firms and services is why I am excited to share this blog series focused on the journey ahead. Having spent time and shared insights with over 20 top 100 managing partners and COOs, this new blog series will be an attempt to “pull back the curtain” for strategies that might help propel our profession and firms to remain relevant and become future ready. We will identify the number one growth strategy common with all of these firms and how they are executing on that vision. What is the biggest obstacle that these firms have in common? How are they dealing with change management? What does innovation look like? We simply have lots of goodies to dive into over the next few weeks. Please come back next week where we will focus on the hot topic of innovation and what top firms might be focused on for implementing innovation within their firms. Aware, Predict, Adapt! Be #FutureReady 

My Brief Assumptions