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How Accounting Firms are Like Rock Bands

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October 22, 2013

Is your accounting firm more like a famous rock band or a garage band? Angie Grissom and Scott Bradbary of The Rainmaker Companies gave an entertaining keynote speech at Accounting Today’s Growth & Profitability Summit on Monday comparing how many accounting firms can effectively act like rock bands.

Starting the keynote address with some riffs from an AC/DC song playing on the loudspeaker, they took turns pointing out how firm can be like rock bands, with a lead singer to represent the face of the firm, a guitarist to provide the melody, a drummer to keep the beat at the firm, and a bassist to provide the rhythm. They pointed out that every rock band started out as a garage band, just as many firms start out small and grow.

“How many of you early on wanted to be an accountant?” Grissom asked. “You are rock stars. You already have an exciting job.”

Rainmaker is based in Nashville, so both Grissom and Bradbary work with many clients who are in the music industry. For their presentation, they said they talked to a number of musicians and songwriters, including Ric Olsen of the band Berlin, which had the hit song “Take My Breath Away” from the movie “Top Gun,” and songwriter Bill Kenner, who wrote country music hits like “Paradise Tonight.”

Bradbary pointed out that you have to adjust to be successful in the accounting profession, just as many musicians, singers and bands do over the course of their careers. He asked the audience to think about how they would define the music they make at their accounting firm. Is it more like jazz or adult contemporary music?

Grissom asked, “How do you develop a song that no other accountant has?” She also emphasized the importance of making a firm an enjoyable place to work to attract new recruits, particularly accounting students looking for their first jobs when they graduate with their accounting degrees. Grissom also emphasized the importance of creating a culture of innovation, pointing out that firms need to be innovative to be successful.

Bradbary compared accounting firms to bands like U2, which was started by drummer Larry Mullen Jr., who early on decided to make Bono the front man because he was the one with the charisma.

But the drummer is still essential in an accounting firm, just as in a rock band. “Accounting firms need to keep the beat,” said Bradbary. “They need to create the right structure and systems and put them in place.”

“Who keeps the beat in your firm?” he asked. “Who plays drummer?”

Bradbary pointed out that firms need to be in sync with their clients and all the members of the firm need to move to the same rhythm.

Grissom talked about the importance of branding for both accounting firms and rock bands. Firms need to create a consistent experience for clients, just as bands do for their fans.

The lead singer is the one who adds glitz to the band. “Who puts on the glitz for your firm?” Bradbary asked the crowd. “Who is the most famous person who represents your firm in the marketplace? If you don’t have glitz in your firm, I want you to work on that.” 

Comments (2)
A most excellent description of teamwork in action. Every member is needed for success to be achieved. The only missing comments might be who is the conductor or composer in the rock analogy.
Posted by David M | Tuesday, October 22 2013 at 1:24PM ET
Excellent analogies for a profession known as being a bit on the stale side....but not always!
Posted by Kevin S | Tuesday, October 22 2013 at 9:46AM ET
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