Savvy CPAS Focus on the Constants

Hitendra Patil

Don't be distracted by the hot trend of the moment.

In "10 Things That Accountants Didn’t Need to Worry about 10 Years Ago," CPA Trendlines contributor Hitendra Patil generated reader reactions with some provocative thoughts about a tsunami of trends. Today, he looks at the other side of the coin, starting with a quote from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos:

You should build a business strategy around the things you know are stable in time and then invest heavily in ensuring you are providing those things and improving your delivery of them all the time. If you want to build a successful, sustainable business, don’t ask yourself what could change in the next 10 years that could affect your company. Instead, ask yourself what won’t change, and then put all your energy and effort into those things."

By Hitendra Patil
Pransform Inc.

What has remained unchanged in the tax and accounting profession over the last few decades? And what will not change over the next couple of decades?

More on The Entrepreneurial CPA by Hitendra Patil here.

Being a futurist is not easy. Being a realistic futurist is even more difficult. But being a person who knows the foundational value of his or her profession is relatively easy, if you know why and what customers buy from you. A CEO of Black & Decker once said the almost proverbial “customers don’t buy a drill machine, they buy a hole in the wall.” As an accountant and tax professional, you must figure out what your customers buy from you and why they buy from you rather than from your competitors.

Now is the time to think about what they will continue to buy in the future.

Bezos went on to explain it more: “In our retail business, we know that customers want low prices, and I know that's going to be true 10 years from now. They want fast delivery; they want vast selection. It's impossible to imagine a future 10 years from now where a customer comes up and says, 'Jeff, I love Amazon; I just wish the prices were a little higher,' [or] 'I love Amazon; I just wish you'd deliver a little more slowly.' Impossible. And so the effort we put into those things, spinning those things up, we know the energy we put into it today will still be paying off dividends for our customers 10 years from now. When you have something that you know is true, even over the long term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it.

One of my friends who did awesome at talent acquisition for Samsung US says that automation and technology is totally changing the whole recruitment industry. But one thing that is important and will not change is the fear of losing a talented person to technology filters, or hiring the wrong person due to a data-matching algorithm that doesn’t consider everything. She further says that she knows what will not change in talent acquisition is the need to have human interaction to find the talent best suited for a particular job. As a result, she is focusing on sharpening her skills in human interactions and learning how to determine what motivates people and how that relates or not to the needs of employers. She isn't bothered about technology!

If you are worried about technology making many accounting and tax processes obsolete (reducing your earning potential), you are thinking about what will change in your profession.

What Will Change in Accounting?

Here are some examples:

  1. Information collection processes.
  2. Data creation processes and service delivery processes.
  3. Payments processing.

What you do today as work can (and will) be done tomorrow by automated software.

But, as Bezos advises, you want to think of what will remain unchanged in accounting, too.

What Won't Change in Accounting?

Here are some examples to get you started:

1 – The need for interpretation of accounting information to drive clients’ business decisions specific to given situations.

2 – The deriving and delivering of intelligence from accounting information to:

  1. Shape corporate strategies of clients.
  2. Provide insights and advice to help businesses to increase their top line and reduce or optimize costs.
  3. Provide insights and advice to help drive profitability and cash flow higher.

3 – The need to identify risks to help mitigate them.

4 – The need for advice on threats and opportunities arising from complex tax laws.

While these are a few examples of things that accountants do now, going deeper into the real value that accounting is meant to deliver is the most important outcome that accounting actually delivers. And that will not change. The most important outcome that accounting actually delivers is: “Empowering people to live better lives by helping them make better business, financial and economic decisions.”

From doing to discovering; from information to insights; from post-facto to proactive; from compliance to alliance; from providing reason to influencing decision; and from cost to value; accounting is in for a perceived change. But it is only going back a full circle of why accounting is required.

2 Responses to “Savvy CPAS Focus on the Constants”

  1. Katrina Geety

    Hitendra, as usual, you have posted a very thoughtful article. The question of “WHY” is accounting required is one that all of us will answer quickly. We need it to comply with bank reporting requirements, we need it to prepare tax returns. The owners need it. But there is more. To further the question, “WHY” does this client pay me what they do? What value am I providing? Would I pay someone who provides services to my company what my clients’ pay me for the services I provide? It’s all about perceived value. And I will think about this intensely. I think it is an extremely important thought provoking statement.

    • Hitendra R. Patil

      Thanks Katrina for sharing your thoughts. It is indeed a very provoking question “Why clients buy from me (and not others)?”. And you are spot on – the value is always “perceived” and the more we bridge the gap between perceived and real value, the better our chances of success.