By John Peterson

There has been much hype about “The Cloud”, the need for Accountants to add value, and the threat of the potential death of compliance and so on. But what does the future really hold for The Profession?
This month a sole practitioner expressed concerns about the marketing messages he has been receiving from some consultants, and sought advice on the accuracy of claims being made. There’s nothing like a fear campaign to get the attention of the profession!

When we discussed Australia’s tax regime and other macro forces, he soon relaxed about the originally presented argument.
In reality, there are legitimate reasons for 75% of Accountants to fear the future. We are witnessing a polarization of the profession with two diametrically opposed movements.

GROUP 1 – THE EVOLUTIONARY ACCOUNTING PROFILE

Less than 25% of the Profession. Some practitioners are embracing change and evolving, with the times and could easily be misjudged as “cloud junkies”. The constituents might see them as brash, even hasty to adopt new ideas in an attempt to win new age clientele.
Interestingly, this evolutionary group often report that after their first progressive leap of faith, one bold move encourages another and so on. Before you know it, the evolutionary profile has discovered that moving with the times has a far more deep-reaching and potentially valuable impact on their short term and long-term viability, not to mention the sustainability of the practice.
Momentum is an amazing thing, and evolutionary types discover often quite by accident that they should never let go of this exciting and most valuable outlook. For the many little wins that it brings them along the way.

GROUP 2 – THE INSTITUTIONAL ACCOUNTING PROFILE

75% (or greater) of the Profession
Resistance to change is often founded on deeply seeded habits, many of which have worked successfully (or at least somewhat successfully) for many years.
The main challenge facing this “institutional” group is the level of denial regarding the element of the future that is already on our doorstep today, and the other elements of tomorrow that are following shortly.
One of my previous employers (a world leader in these matters) taught me that we really “Don’t Know What We Don’t Know”, and this is a dangerous approach to business in general.

RISKING YOUR OWN FUTURE:

The Institutional Accountants may be risking your very future because your clients are not impressed by an adviser that does not have a progressive opinion, as this is simply the way of the world now. Put simply, if their world is changing then you must have an opinion that is of interest to them to remain a valued contributor to their cause.
Your failure to meet expectations risks what we call“Fee Base Run Off”, a common symptom of clients leaving your firm because of a lack of engagement and connection to your firm.

DEBATING FUTURISTIC TOPICS AT YOUR OWN PERIL:

Both customers and employees want to believe your firm is somewhat progressive and open-minded about keeping up with the future, and if you lack positive “content” regarding any evolutionary topics then both customers and employees may vote with their feet!

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