For the last several years, accounting firms have been merging with or acquiring their peers -- but the shopping spree is bound to come to an end as future leaders head out to create their own practices once the combined firms complete their integration, according to Boomer Consulting shareholder and COO Sandra Wiley.
"The M&A frenzy is alive and well, but it will taper off within the next five years, or less," said Wiley during her "Embracing Change Management" workshop at Thomson Reuters' Synergy Users Conference, held here. Wiley explained that the accounting firm consolidation will cause "new entrepreneurial firms to emerge" because it's becoming more difficult for newly conjoined firms to hold on to middle management. "Competitors are taking them or they are heading out to the private sector," said Wiley.
Wiley suggested that the best way to retain middle management is to teach them how to be future leaders. "Leadership training is important," she said. "The next thing to consider is to conduct 'stay interviews' at your firm. Ask what will it take for them to stay. If you are doing an exit interview, it's too late."
The key to stay interviews is that practice leaders must be opened to change. Wiley said that it makes no sense to conduct these interviews if you're not willing to make enhancements in the short term. "Firms that choose to skip the stay interview will be aware of what they need to change during the exit interview."
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