In the past year (2018), have you noticed any trends in practice at your firm/organization? For example, changing workloads; challenges in recruitment, retention, training, promotion, exiting; the outsourcing of accounting services; shortages of staff; difficulty recruiting experienced professionals; tapping into retirees?
I continue to see a growing need for those who think more broadly than past generations. More than answers, I see clients needing counsel. Answers are becoming more commoditized as research tools for the layperson improve; what to do with those answers and how to take action that fits the client’s unique needs is becoming the place of real value and opportunity.
According to the 2018 Rosenberg Survey, the accounting profession is aging—how does this impact your practice? How have you seen it impact colleagues, other firms, or clients?
That group of experienced professionals aging out at the same time requires that we invest heavily in the next generation and take risks as we put them in situations that stretch them and season them. When you can do it well, it’s tough to let go and pass that opportunity to the younger generation, but we must do it.
According to the 2018 Rosenberg Survey, the percentage of women partners continues to grow very slowly (especially at large firms), and continues to lag behind the percentage of staff. Anecdotally, what evidence have you seen of this (or that contradicts this)? What explains the challenges the profession faces in achieving greater gender parity?
Women are occupying more roles—and more important roles—than at any time in my more than 40 years of experience. Firms and employers in general are all learning how to manage different generational expectations and needs, and changing roles in families. We have to be more creative in how we tap the great talent in our female workforce and still adjust to their time and schedule needs to deal with competing family and related expectations. It’s not easy, but it is our future.
According to the 2018 Rosenberg Survey, revenue per partner and equity per partner are increasing. What do you think some of the reasons for that might be?
As we learn to better use AI (artificial intelligence)-related tools and outsourcing opportunities, as well as pursue consulting experiences, we have a chance to differentiate ourselves and gain the related financial rewards. AI and outsourcing will provide gains for the early adopters, and over time the benefits will level out as more players utilize the tools. Our challenge is to continue to be early adopters of the right tools.
Could you talk about what you’ve seen in the past year (2018) in terms of new practice areas, new regulation, legislation headaches, and new emerging areas of growth?
Niches continue to offer great opportunity for differentiation and growth. Which niches are really related to your individual markets and strengths? Whatever your area of service, providing counsel and a deep relationship are the real differentiators, as too many CPAs want a formulaic approach, and that only provides a short-lived benefit.
What concerns do you have about the professional marketplace? Do you think there has been a dilution of the profession, or of the value of the CPA license?
On the contrary, I think the profession continues to distinguish itself as open to finding new areas to serve, developing expertise, and providing important counsel.