Have you realized that the world around you has changed?

Do you feel like the new ways customers want to do business with you are radically different than in the past?

Do you feel like the transparency and open communication brought on by the tools of cloud, social business, pricing, and experience have engaged you to run your practice in a drastically different but better way?

Yes? Then you, my friend, are a radical CPA!

 

THE NEW WAVE

This cadre of radical CPAs is calling for others to redefine their firms (and lives) by moving away from the traditional model. We are pushing for a collaborative, holistic approach, helping fellow practitioners create the "New Firm."

My mission this past year was to illustrate how interaction with each of these tools - cloud, social, value pricing, and process -- created change within a firm.

Was I successful in proving how these new ways of doing business fundamentally change a firm from the inside out -- and, as a result, call for its people to respond accordingly, transitioning in this new model?

I think so, but we shall see.

The tools of the cloud, value pricing, and social media are quite disruptive to a firm business model. This we know. However, shaking everything up like a giant smoothie actually creates a new concoction that can be a pleasant experience.

Employees, customers, prospects and, yes, even management will all be learning new ways of doing business in the "New Firm" model.

It's no longer a fee for a tax return or financial statement; it's a collaborative partnership where a trusted advisor leads a small-business chief executive through accounting, tax and consulting services. Prospects no longer come only via referral from your town or city; they come to you through social channels as well - meaning you may be working with new customers from around the world.

 

I CAN SEE THE FUTURE

The next generation of business owners expects this type of interaction, period! Your legacy business owners, well, the scary thing is that there are a lot of firm owners who think that because they've had a client for 20 years, they're never going to leave. They're wrong.

It's sadly a common scenario: The client has a succession issue within their family or business and the next-generation business owner doesn't have the connection to the current professional. Technology instead becomes more important than the relationship.

For all of the firm owners who think, "It's not going to affect me, I have an established client base," that's not true anymore. The successor business owner is saying, "I want my CPA or my accountant to be cutting-edge or at least up to date. I want them to be using technology to help me." I mean, who wants to see a doctor who doesn't have the latest technology? Technology as a response to serving customers has fiercely increased the competition.

The firms with "no baggage" are rocking it. They are new, emerging firms with no legacy clients, aging technologies, or old-time partners. Some leaders are under the age of 25. You may look at them and say, "What do they know?" But it's what they don't know that is allowing them to be successful and take game-changing risks. They collaborate effortlessly online and expect the same from their older counterparts.

The accounting profession now has technology to support new communication and collaboration processes, allowing firms to perform more work in less time with fewer resources than ever before.

Our movement is about breaking ground. This is about rebuilding a firm from the foundation up, and it may just be one or two steps this year but it's a beginning. You have to get started. There's no easy way to do this. I wish I could just give you a roadmap, but unfortunately, there really isn't one. And I certainly don't have all the answers.

But think about starting here: Take a critical look at your firm. Assess where it's been and where you want it to go. Once you know that, just start moving in that direction.

The world has created an environment where information-sharing has increased exponentially, thereby allowing us to output deliverables markedly faster. This is a good thing. Embrace it. It's key to you surviving and thriving in today's new world.

The question remains: Are you a radical CPA? Tell me your story.

Jody Padar, CPA, MST, is CEO and principal of New Vision CPA Group, as well as an adjunct professor at Oakton Community College. She speaks nationally on various technologies and taxation.

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