Arthur Andersen was well known for its training program and facilities at St. Charles, Ill. While Accenture now trains at that site, the requirements and strategies for training are far different than those prevalent when most firm owners entered the profession. Time changes many things, but the urgency of instilling a training-learning culture within your firm has never been greater. Now is the time to act.I know your first reaction: “We’re not Accenture or a Big Four firm.” True. But you’re a professional services firm that competes for quality talent — and a learning culture is integral to sustained profitability and even existence in today’s economy. Small accounting firms compete in a knowledge-based business, and must understand the value of training and learning in good times as well as bad.

Value (real and perceived) must be derived from any training initiative for it to grow. Don’t be timid in talking about a return on investment. It all starts at the top, and the managing partner and executive committee are keys to success. Your firm’s training-learning committee must have representation from its stakeholders, as well as political clout. Their primary mission is to motivate, enable, change and develop strategies to overcome obstacles.

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