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Summer Board Chair Column: You Don't Have to Go it Alone!

by Dave Miniken, CPA, CGMA, WSCPA Chair for 2016-2017 | Aug 18, 2016
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I’m honored to serve as the WSCPA Board Chair for the next year. I recently attended the AICPA Spring Council meeting in New Orleans as one of three delegates from our state, and a central theme of the meeting was the staggering pace of change in the business landscape.

Technology Continues to Evolve

More than 90% of the data amassed in history was collected during the last two years, much of which is due to the intersection of three forces: the growth in the number of mobile devices, the growth in cloud computing, and the development of software to process all the data. Technology is drastically changing the world of professional services. Given the greater amounts of data available, our challenge is to find a way to synthesize this data into a form that facilitates decision making, rather than allowing ourselves to become paralyzed by the sheer volume of information available.

Firm Cultures are Evolving

The marketplace is moving toward flexible staffing models as well as variable and virtual work arrangements. In order to meet the changing needs of our workforce and enhance staff retention, leaders within “Firms of the Future” are embracing these changes and developing tools to invest in their team members’ futures so that their younger professionals feel more engaged, contribute ideas, and help set the direction at those firms.

Our Talented Workforce is Evolving

As leadership at most firms currently consists largely of white males, the Firm of the Future is committing efforts to understand the needs and expectations of women and minorities so that they can become leaders within those firms. There is a strong business case for the development of a more inclusive culture. Forward-facing firms are considering alternative career paths that focus on the strengths and interests of each of their people, as well as embracing the generational differences in their offices (which I particularly appreciate each time I try to download a new app onto my cell phone).

Our Client Relationships are Changing

Your clients understand that you cannot be all things to all people, so it is increasingly important to carefully choose who you serve. Leadership within the Firm of the Future understands the importance of forming alliances to build working relationships with other firms and experts to strengthen their deliverables. It is important to revisit your firm’s service offerings, considering the future needs of the marketplace. This is a good time to reignite your relationships with your clients and strengthen your team’s ability to understand client preferences.

You're Not Alone

Considering how to remain competitive during this period of significant change can seem daunting, but the great news is that you don’t have to go it alone as you transition toward being a high-performing Firm of the Future. The AICPA’s Private Companies Practice Section (PCPS), an add-on firm membership section within the AICPA, focuses on the needs of those of you managing local practices. The PCPS provides practical tools and resources specifically designed to boost the success of local practices, helping you to become the Firm of the Future. The PCPS supports CPA firms in the everyday intricacies of running a practice by providing high-quality management tools dealing with such varied issues as virtual work arrangements, engagement pricing tools, recruitment and retention, building a social media presence, and going paperless. If your firm is not already a member of the PCPS, I encourage you to consider it. Firm membership is only $35 per CPA, up to a maximum of $700 per firm due and it provides a great wealth of resources for small- and medium-sized practices.

In addition, your membership in the WSCPA provides you with many opportunities to discuss these issues with your peers and find out how they are dealing with these trends. In partnership with the PCPS, the WSCPA offers a free rotating tool available every month on the WSCPA website. As this rotating tool is replaced by another tool each month-end, you will want to check the WSCPA website frequently so that you can take advantage of these free resources.

I look forward to serving as Chairman of your Board of Directors, and I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible over the coming year.

Dave Miniken is a member of the management team at Sweeney Conrad, where he serves as the Director of Sweeney Conrad’s audit and accounting practice. You can contact him at dave@sweeneyconrad.com.

This article appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of The WashingtonCPA magazine.

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