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  3. The Future CPA: Make Your Practice the Accounting Firm of the Future

white paper

Do you embody the future CPA?
Building the accounting firm of the future starts with changing your mindset.

You have a unique opportunity to move your practice forward by transforming it into an advisory service that meets more of your clients’ needs. You already have the trust of your clients. You can leverage that trust into growth for your business, while providing a more robust and comprehensive set of services for them.

Your clients and your prospects expect more from you. Reform your accounting business to exceed those expectations. Take the first step by reading our new white paper. You’ll learn about the seismic changes affecting your profession, along with a roadmap to help you navigate them.

We hope you’ll be challenged to think a little differently to help drive your business forward in a time of profound change.

Take the first step. Read the white paper now. 

Shifting demographics, changes in consumer behavior, a dynamic tax and regulatory environment, technology, and a multitude of other factors are having a profound impact on the future of accounting. That impact means an unprecedented rate of change.

You can be your clients’ trusted advisor, or their financial historian. The future of accounting is here. Are you a future CPA? Are you ready to move forward and build the accounting firm of the future?

In the beginning

It all began with the “tax man.” The idea of you, the tax man, would loom over the country all spring long. Clients would frantically search for receipts. Bundle their W2s. Round up the 1099s. If they were lucky enough to have them, paper clip their 1099-DIVs. Declare their dependents. Gather medical statements. Hunt down property documents. Put everything in a box and deliver it to you. Even if it was a mess, they knew the tax man would take care of it.

And you did.

And then? “See you next year!” It was a transaction. Your clients brought you what you needed to get their work done, you organized it, completed their forms, and filed their tax returns. By doing so, you met their expectations, such as they were at the time. That was the end of it until next year. Your clients had their taxes done, and you made some money. All was well. Now all is different. Your profession is undergoing profound changes. The impact of these changes has been accelerated by technology, an ever-morphing tax code with sometimes delayed and uncertain IRS guidance, changing consumer and business expectations, and the ascendancy of business models that promote enduring relational value over discrete, commoditized transactions. The question is, are you changing your business to adapt accordingly, effectively, and profitably? Or, is your business remaining static in a dynamic profession?

Shifting to the future CPA

Are you looking forward, or holding onto the past? Your clients, and your clients’ businesses, are constantly looking forward. They are always trying to anticipate markets, economics, income, and expenses. Are you going to look forward with them — and walk alongside them to help them succeed — or look backward and provide reactive services that most of your competitors can provide? In today’s environment, growing your business means shifting to an advisory service model. In fact, an advisory service model is not just a trend in your profession but is becoming — and has already become — an expectation on the part of your clients and prospects.

Why? DIY resources and other factors have combined to make the tax preparation and filing process, in large part, a commodity. Compliance is important, and can resolve complications, but addressing them is usually something your competitor three blocks over can handle just as effectively as you can. As a result, price becomes the primary factor when prospects search for and select a tax professional. You may find yourself competing based on the lowest common denominator — price. The reality is that you should be competing on the basis of value. Be a future CPA - one who understands the true value of time, expertise and experience.

The arc of change: the accounting firm of the future

Change is rarely a completely linear process. More often, it is a two-steps-forward, one-step-back type of evolution. But while changing your business is an ongoing process that may not have an end, it often does have some sort of a beginning, and maybe even several beginnings. Where does the transformation of your business begin? It doesn’t begin with restructuring your practice, creating spreadsheets, developing long-term plans, creating checklists, broadening the scope of your services, or renaming your practice. It begins with you. It begins with how you think about yourself, your business, your clients and prospects, your profession, and your future. It begins with transforming into an accounting firm of the future.

It begins with changing your mindset.

Change your mindset: how do you think about yourself

How can you provide the most value to your clients? Tax and accounting compliance may be necessary and your clients depend on you for that kind of work, but what if you could help them in more — sometimes intangible — ways? Consider a somewhat rough analogy. Let’s say you take your car in for scheduled service. Do you want to work with Tom, who only does the work recommended by the manufacturer, or would you prefer to work with Bob, who also anticipates potential issues and offers a variety of solutions to proactively address those issues before they occur? Bob’s approach to service creates a lasting bond that not only cements your trust, but also results in a better reputation and more revenue for his business long-term. Be like Bob.

Identify what you do well and what expertise you have that you are not currently using with your clients. You may be able to enhance your value by offering more diversified service offerings. If this strategy appeals to you, consider which services make the most sense for your clients, but more importantly, what best complements your existing knowledge and experience that you would enjoy learning, expounding upon, or becoming an expert in. For example, if you offer estate and gift tax services, you may want to expand to related areas, such as elder care planning, trust management, succession planning, charitable giving, retirement planning, and family financial planning. To support any expansion of specialized services, you may want to invest in attaining new designations, such as CFP, PFS, ChFC, CFA, CLU, or others.

Another approach is to assume an advisory management role, similar to that of a general contractor. Beyond providing referrals, which you already do, this strategy positions you as the central point of contact — the filter and coordinator for all advisory information from bankers, attorneys, financial planners, and more. Like a contractor, you assume responsibility for all advice and guidance that is provided, regardless of the source. This approach is less likely to increase your revenue incrementally but may increase client loyalty exponentially.

The most practical approach may well be a combination of the two strategies: expanding your expertise and the services you offer, while simultaneously leveraging and growing your network of advisors and drawing them into a more formalized cooperative.

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