Diverse markets usher in new potential for profits for your firm

Over the years, some of the most interesting conversations and longest debates that I have had have been with individuals who are uniquely different than I am.

The differences in perspective have not necessarily been due to race or ethnicity, but rather views (whether conservative or liberal) on issues of socio-economic class, regional upbringing, political or religious affiliations.

WHO BENEFITS?

One of the most interesting experiences I've had lately was serving as one of the stage representatives for small businesses when President Barack Obama came to my local area to promote health care reform.

Although most of us did not get to ask questions, all of us agreed that, inevitably, we have to fix our health care system because costs are becoming out of reach for many, including large businesses, many of which now require employees to pay for a significant portion of their individual and family health insurance plans.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust's Employer Health Benefits 2008 Annual Survey, approximately 63 percent of employers offer health insurance, and approximately 80 percent of workers with single coverage and 93 percent of workers with family coverage contribute to the total premium for their own coverage. It was also noted that average premiums for family coverage have increased 119 percent since 1999.

Who, you might ask, would benefit most from health care reform? I'll put my money on those savvy advisors who are positioning their clients and companies to benefit from the possible systemwide health care changes (i.e., software designers, information technology security firms, efficiency consultants) and the many companies lobbying to obtain tax credits and other benefits that always come with reform.

Wherever you stand on this heath care debate, realize that new market potential will be created.

DON'T LEAVE THE MONEY BEHIND

As many of us look back on our initial training as accountants and financial advisors, we remember the emphasis on the technical aspects of our profession, such as analytical review procedures (i.e., ratio, trend and regression analysis), peer analysis, tax accrual calculations and various business valuation techniques. Studying the profits of companies, stock price, net income per employee, strategic plans and decision models is what we do.

One of my former bosses would always ask, "Are we leaving money on the table?" He would always ask if we were reaching all of the potential diverse markets we could serve, as well as whether we had searched for hidden opportunities in the competitive market in which we operated.

No matter what role you play at your firm or company, part of your job probably includes helping the company serve markets where there is potential for growth.

According to Armando G. Roman, CPA, MBA, and a partner at Johnson, Harris & Goff, "You have to give the client something that is familiar to them, something comfortable that reminds them of home. Having the right people in key positions can accomplish this."

Savvy managers know that in order to tap into these fertile diverse markets, you must have representatives who play a significant enough role to make decisions and gain the respect of others within and outside of the firm or company.

RE-ENERGIZE REVENUE

As we study the potential for profits of the companies we work for or consult with, imagine if fixed costs are controllable and variable cost margins are reasonable. Then additional sales and new market introductions will potentially help reap higher bottom-line profits.

If a company is trying to re-energize revenue streams, they cannot ignore potential new markets.

According to U.S. Census Bureau's 2008 National Population Projections (www.census.gov/population/www/projections/2008projections.html) minority populations are projected to represent 54 percent of the U.S. resident population by 2050, up from 34 percent in 2008.

Associations, corporate boards and firm owners are looking to management to be innovative and attract more income and contributions that can drop down to the bottom line for the benefit of its stakeholders.

In the recently released AICPA Minority Initiatives Committee's e-book CPAs of Color: Celebrating 40 Years, some of the early efforts and successes are highlighted, showing how inclusion efforts help not just to improve financial conditions for entire groups but also to expand markets and create new revenue streams. To view the e-book, visit www.aicpa.org/download/members/div/career/mini/2541-331_mic_e-book-online.pdf.

Forty years ago there were only 150 CPAs of color. We've certainly come a long way and now it's time to tap into the market to utilize fully the talent that has been developed to create and re-energize revenue streams and not leave money on the table.

During these challenging times, collaboration with team members, including diverse representatives, is just good for business.

Genevia Gee Fulbright, CPA, is president and COO of Fulbright & Fulbright CPA PA, and author of a number of books. She also serves as chair of the AICPA Minority Initiatives Committee. Reach her at ggf moneyful.com.

(c) 2009 Accounting Today and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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