Carl Famiglietti is managing partner of Moody, Famiglietti & Andronico, based in Boston. He says that accounting firm management often finds itself locked in a tug of war between applying theory and being pragmatic, a struggle that can dampen capabilities and in some cases, the overall development of a firm. “For firms of fewer than 30 professionals, the tendency to avoid creativity in favor of traditional tactics can create a stifling atmosphere--or worse, it can lead them to rationalize that remaining static in size or approach is justifiable.”
He points out that in this difficult economic environment, sustained, substantial growth is very much attainable and to achieve revenue growth that better enables innovation, leaders must drive towards a vision of what their firm will look like when their goals are achieved. In this respect, he says that the approach requires the eradication of three myths:
Myth #1: Competition for Worthwhile Business is Too Intense
Famiglietti notes that in a needs-based business such as accounting, the economic viability of the entire country depends on CPA expertise and involvement. “This means that although competition is intense (as it is in all fields), there is business for every capable participant.”
He says that while large national firms control the lion’s share of the market, open opportunities are all around us. “The keys to capturing these opportunities lie in the investments a firm is willing to make. Some CPA firms view expenses in infrastructure, education, recruiting, and marketing as costs to be minimized. However, for real sustained growth to be achieved, the mindset of CPA firms should be more aligned with some of the best run companies in America.”
Myth #2: Good Talent is Hard to Find
According to Famiglietti, good talent is everywhere. “Virtually every candidate that enters into an interview process has great gifts to contribute as long as they are properly motivated, empowered, and rewarded for their contributions.”
He adds that the ROI on education, regardless of the curriculum, is without limit and it is the only investment that provides sustained agility and immediate adaptability to the many external forces the market may impose upon a firm.
Myth #3: Control Rests with the Partners
Famiglietti notes that before transparency was an essential ingredient to trust among companies and stakeholders, markets and investors, and providers and clients, relationships were built on seniority. “To win a client’s trust, partners served as exclusive client contacts. Virtually all correspondence needed to be routed across their desks, and accounts were considered in jeopardy should a client be exposed to junior professionals.”
He feels that clients relate to all types of individuals. “Indeed, they may relate to less experienced firm members equally if not more than they do to more senior professionals. In the end, clients want reliable and timely results and professionals want a challenge; for those two reasons alone, it is increasingly imperative for more seasoned professionals to yield control to those yearning for experience.”
To Famiglietti, growth is often repressed when leadership’s belief in traditionalism and “how things are” exceeds their vision and passion of “how they could be.” He says that firms which experiment continually will find that just as in industries such as technology and pharma, innovation is a risk worth taking. “It is applying a theorist’s passion and creativity that will break the vicious cycle of stagnation and draw a trajectory of progression, talent recruitment, increased revenues, and profitability.”
Above all, he concludes, leaders are those who adapt to external factors but do not let their fate be determined by the market. “Those firms that form a management strategy devoid of myths, that remain aligned with their mission, and that create an environment of trust and development will be poised to capitalize on the opportunities at hand.”
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