Slideshow What's the Big Idea?

  • November 15 2013, 2:42pm EST
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While it functions as a modern lens for traditional diversity initiatives, the concept of inclusion goes far beyond an update in terminology, instead offering a more expansive, progressive idea of a representative workforce.

Higher Level Client Advisory Services

While the general public usually pigeonholes accountants as tax preparers, CPAs should be capitalizing on another, more lucrative public perception to market their unique skillset—that of "trusted advisor." Some firms already have, by adding higher-level advisory work to their client services.

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Soft Skills

What does strength-based psychology have in common with an accounting firm's strategic plan? Not much, before soft skills-based leadership training made its big mark on the profession, giving accountants new tools of introspection and goal-oriented planning.

Value Pricing

Firms that have embraced the progressive, anti-time-sheets model continue to perfect the blueprint, with some forming proposal-approving value councils and others offering clients "value solutions" packages.


Progressive firm leaders are striking a new tone at the top, one that celebrates autonomy and creative freedom, and ripples down to challenge and empower staff to do their best work. As business owners, these firm heads understand the value of personal growth and trial-by-fire, and encourage that entrepreneurial mindset.

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Big Data

Big data can reap big rewards for firms that use their predictive power to advise clients. And with technology vendors optimizing predictive market analytics to integrate into traditional decision-making processes, firms have a unique opportunity to be the vanguard of this valued service.

Hiring Non-CPA Professionals

In today's economy, marketing and sales can no longer be the part-time pursuit of senior staff, and some client industries require dedicated, non-CPA experts. Mid-level accounting talent is also becoming scarcer, so hiring outside the profession is not only a differentiator but economical.

The Virtual Firm

The few accounting firms that have completely ditched the bricks of a company office to prove their case for a more productive and mobile workforce are admittedly still refining their new ideal. As pioneers, they do have the rapid pace of technology on their side, as the hot mobile trend, especially, keeps staff and clients more effortlessly connected.

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Continuous Auditing

The technology-enabled liberation from traditional time constraints responsible for most of today's fastest-gaining trends also brings viability to the continuous auditing model. Busy seasons could be a thing of the past, as today's reporting tools have the potential to keep the books open for near real-time, detailed scrutiny.

Knowledge Management

Think of this as asset management for one of your firm's most valuable assets: the knowledge and expertise of your staff. Most firms don't know what their employees know, and so are unable to capitalize on it for solving client problems or developing profitable new services. Some, though, are beginning to find a new home for this knowledge base in software that connects a firm's valuable network of internal experts.