Tax & Accounting Blog

Success Plan

Accounting Firms, Blog, CS Professional Suite December 21, 2017

Ever since Thomson Reuters created the first Partner Summit in 2009, these thought-leadership sessions have been among the company’s most popular events, frequently selling out within a day or two. Why is the Partner Summit such a hot ticket? A major draw is the chance for firm owners and partners to create a customized action plan for nudging themselves out of the on-the-ground, day-to-day details of firm operations and into more of an advisory capacity. Jean Rakich, senior director of training, consulting and implementation services and host of multiple Partner Summits, likens it to a map.

“We tell participants to think of their plan as a road map for getting themselves out of the traditional firm rut,” she says. “It gives them a clearer view of how they can move away from a compliance orientation, with lots of payroll and tax work, and create a more holistic business they’ll be excited to run every day.”

Setting Up

Action plans are drafted in manageable steps over the two-day event. Presenters explore the most important aspects of running a firm: product and services development, sales and marketing, operations, and firm management and leadership. As each topic is covered, participants are asked to note in the summit workbook two action items they intend to implement at their own firms.

Since you can’t get where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been, the first order of business is to look at the state of things today. Generally, the consensus is that participants spend too much time on firm operations and they’d rather spend their time working on things that make their firms more profitable, like monetizing the services they provide to clients.

From there, participants take a closer look at the first section of new information: product and services development. So much is reviewed — the client experience, selling a body of work and accumulated knowledge, positioning as a trusted advisor, defining services to clients, best practices — that you might expect attendees’ brains to go into overload. But they’re eagerly taking notes and already thinking of what they’ll apply to their firms.

Digging In

Discussions of other key topics follow suit over the next two days: finding the right clients, meeting with prospective clients, the key elements of an advisory engagement, branding and websites, knowledge transfer, change management, digital communications, workflows, recruiting and retention, generational considerations, being a leader — virtually everything involved in running a firm.

Presenters challenge participants and spark discussions by asking questions designed to get them thinking: “What are breakthroughs you can implement?” “Why are you in business?” “How does your firm do what it does?”

At the end of each section, attendees note two breakthroughs that will eventually combine to become a “breakthrough plan” unique to each participant. Here are some breakthroughs from 2017 participants:

  • “I plan to have conversations with my clients about billing based on my body of work.”
  • “Staffing and recruiting — going to career fairs.”
  • “I’m going to finish up our policies and procedures manual so we’re all on the same page.”
  • “We’ve already started a rebranding process for our firm. Now I can add a lot of what I learned here.”
  • “I want to create firmwide spreadsheets with research material, since we already have everything available to create them.”
  • “We’re going back to the basics and defining our mission statement and our ‘why’ again.”

Going Forth

By the end of the second day, when they’ve reached the topic of plan execution, Partner Summit participants have a workbook filled with notes, ideas and plans. They’ve heard from a number of inspiring presenters — most notably, practitioners who have made the leap to an advisory role in their own successful firms, but also from the dynamic Thomson Reuters training, consulting and implementation services team, who have helped them see how their plans can come to fruition with the tools in their Thomson Reuters toolbox.

And when the Partner Summit ends, the 70-plus attendees head back to their firms with much more than a plan. They have the knowledge they need to make changes, the courage to take a leap of faith and the confidence that they can lead their teams into a brighter, more exciting future.

Interested in attending a Partner Summit and creating an action plan for your firm? Registration for 2018 will begin in February. Watch for more information.