Are you looking to transform your traditional tax and accounting firm into an advisory firm? Or are you looking to take your advisory services to the next level?
In the latest episode of Pulse of the Practice, “Advisory Symposium”, Paul Miller, Owner of Business by Design, and Mo Arbas, Senior Business Advisory Consultant with Thomson Reuters, sat down with Lisa Tierney, Manager, Professional Services with Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting Professional Services, and Therese Witherow, Principal Trainer at Thomson Reuters, to discuss the Thomson Reuters Advisory Symposium.
Imagine this: An advisory-focused conference built by advisory experts that helps tax and accounting practitioners capitalize on the success of their business. That’s the concept behind the Advisory Symposium, the first of which was held June 21-23 in Naples, Florida.
“We knew that our advisory community wanted something more,” said Lisa. “And then we came together, and we thought, gosh, how are we going to deliver an advisory-focused conference that meets the needs of all the various levels that people are in their advisory journey.”
That’s when the advisory expert team at Thomson Reuters began working on a plan to bring together tax practitioners and advisors from all over the country for workshops, peer-to-peer networking, panel discussions, and much more.
Connecting beginners and old pros
To accommodate all advisory levels, the team developed two tracks: one for firms interested in learning what advisory services are all about, and one for Practice Forward graduates who wanted to elevate the advisory services they currently offer.
“We had new people that haven’t even thought of advisory,” says Therese. “They’ve heard of it but didn’t even know what steps to take. Then, with your advanced track, we’re discussing things like client transition or departures, or getting into topics about how to deliver value or be a community thought leader. Even advanced members had those light bulb moments of what’s next for their clients. So, one of the biggest takeaways was just watching the different views and different intakes from each of the attendees.”
Several Practice Forward graduates registered for track two and registered their new hires and other staff for track one so the entire firm could get up to speed on advisory. It was a surprising but exciting development that blended the conversations in different tracks into one.
Sparking meaningful discussion
The team focused intensely on fostering an environment that kickstarted conversations between attendees in like-kind settings with color-coded identifiers. For example, sole practitioners or small firms were seated next to similar attendees. Larger firms sat together at other tables. But the conversations became so engaging that the team saw participants moving around based on their need.
“What was interesting is that even though we sat them together, some firms who wanted to grow bigger jumped to those other tables to engage those clientele on how to get to that level,” said Therese. “Those sole practitioners, not sure how to hire staff or which staff to hire, jumped into those other conversations. So, those color-coded identifiers that we put together by different group venues really helped them engage in different levels of conversation.”
And the topics of conversations were wide-ranging and meaningful to today’s tax and accounting firms.
“We talked about hot topics all over the place,” said Mo. “Managing a hybrid office. Pricing strategies and rising costs that are off the charts. We talked about transitioning existing clients to this advisory mindset and maintenance contract. We talked about—this is another hot topic or piece that we always talk about—how do we keep delivering advisory? How do we keep offering advisory services to our clients throughout that multi-year engagement?”
Building a sense of community
Perhaps the most important takeaway for attendees was the sense of community. Hearing from peers and building relationships with other firms who are going through similar challenges and opportunities is invaluable, no matter where you are on your advisory journey.
To encourage accountability, the Thomson Reuters advisory team helped attendees set up peer groups so they could continue the conversations after the event was over.
“We felt this community, this sense of community,” said Lisa. “And, you know, it made me think about this important guiding principle that I have in my life, which is to spend time with people that make you better—in your personal life and in your professional life. And this group made each other better from every level in their advisory journey. I saw it happen. I witnessed it. I’ve never been to a conference where, at the end of every session and at the end of every day, the excitement was still palpable.”
Taking the next step on your advisory journey
The next Advisory Symposium will take place December 6-8, 2022, in Las Vegas. To learn more and register, visit tax.thomsonreuters.com/en/events/advisory-symposium.