6 Action Steps for a Smooth Retirement Transition

Older businessman with jacket over shoulderPlus 8 questions the retiree should ponder.

By August J. Aquila

Firms today are facing succession planning issues at an unheard-of pace. Blame it on the Baby Boomers and the overall demographics of the accounting profession and population in general.

MORE: 7 Succession Planning Best Practices | 8 Steps to Make Cross-Selling Work for Your Firm | What Marketers Need to Know about Pricing | Client Centricity Leads to Profitability | 6 Steps to Making Your New Pricing Happen | Preparing to Change Pricing Philosophy
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Over the past year I have worked with several managing partners in helping them transition from one set of leaders to another. The question I often get is, when is the time right?
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7 Succession Planning Best Practices

Woman winking and holding thumb upNone of it works without the managing partner's backing.

By August J. Aquila

Succession planning today is more complex for professional services firms than it was 15 years ago. Practices have become more complex, the traditional business model that served firms so well in the 20th century no longer works today and clients have become more sophisticated.

MORE: 8 Steps to Make Cross-Selling Work for Your Firm | The Eternal Riddle of Being an Effective Leader | 7 Pieces of Leadership Advice | Tomorrow’s Leader in 9 Bullet Points | 5 Ways to Get Clients to Accept a New Pricing Philosophy | 11 Alternative Pricing Methods
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Fifteen years ago, it seemed that succession planning was nothing more than having the current firm leader announce who was going to take over the firm. And for the most part that process seemed to work. Today the process is more complex.
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8 Steps to Make Cross-Selling Work for Your Firm

Businesswoman sitting on table while talking with four coworkersTwo keys: education and incentives.

By August J. Aquila

Cross selling in most firms just doesn't work as well as it could. It is probably the most talked about process in accounting firms and, undoubtedly, one of the most frustrating.

MORE: The Eternal Riddle of Being an Effective Leader | Grissom and Aquila on Partner Performance Evaluations | Gross Profit in a Professional Services Firm: Opening a Dialogue | How to Get Partners to Accept a New Pricing Philosophy | 12 Pricing Factors Beyond Cost
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Firms constantly give referrals to attorneys, bankers, brokers and financial advisers, but giving a referral to a fellow partner or associate just doesn't seem to happen. Either firms don't know how to do cross selling, or there are some other hidden reasons for the reluctance to give a referral to someone else in the firm. There is, of course, no miracle cure for this problem, but you can make cross selling more effective for your firm. Here's how.
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The Eternal Riddle of Being an Effective Leader

Businesswoman holding green folder4 characteristics. ALSO: Leading vs. managing.

By August J. Aquila

Some form of leadership probably has been around since the dawn of time. The early cave man with the largest club became the leader of the clan.

MORE: Grissom and Aquila on Partner Performance Evaluations | August Aquila: What Marketers Need to Know about Pricing | Client Centricity Leads to Profitability | 6 Steps to Making Your New Pricing Happen | Applying Cobb’s Value Curve to Your Firm
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Sometimes this type of leadership can still be found in businesses today – accountants and lawyers have just replaced the club with a book of business or rainmaking skills.
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Grissom and Aquila on Partner Performance Evaluations

Woman conducting evaluationBusiness development is everyone's job.

By August Aquila and Angie Grissom
The August Aquila Leadership Collection

HE SAID: When conducting the partner performance evaluation, partners should not be surprised by the feedback. I often suggest that firms follow the following guidelines when it comes to delivering the annual (or semiannual) evaluation:

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Agree together at the beginning of the evaluation period those competencies the partner should improve upon throughout the year. You may even wish to create an individual development plan that specifies those competencies and the activities in which the partner will engage to develop them.
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The Seven Leadership Essentials for Accounting Firms

Businesswoman sitting on table while talking with four coworkersManaging partners must learn when to say when.

By August J. Aquila

While everyone learns by doing, we can certainly learn from others, especially those who have faced the same problem we are now facing.

MORE: Gross Profit in a Professional Services Firm: Opening a Dialogue | Client Centricity Leads to Profitability | 6 Steps to Making Your New Pricing Happen | Preparing to Change Pricing Philosophy
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Do it sooner than later. This is perhaps the most often heard bit of advice that I hear from firm partners. Too often we wait too long to address an issue. We know what the solution needs to be, but we are either afraid to decide or are hopeful that the problem will resolve itself. READ MORE →

2019: When CPAs Go Extinct

Firms turn to mergers to solve problems.

By August Aquila
The Rosenberg MAP Survey

This may well be the year that the dinosaurs become extinct.

MORE FROM THE MAP SURVEY: 2019: Appetite for Growth Unabated | 2019: Doing More With Less | 2019: Tech Isn’t the Problem. It’s the Solution | 2019: Using M&A to Launch Consulting | 2019 Trends: Client Service Changes | Staff Policies Improve, But Not Mentoring
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Gross Profit in a Professional Services Firm: Opening a Dialogue

Plus specific ways to improve in services, marketing, sales, delivery and support.

By August J. Aquila
Price It Right

Accounting firms focus on top-line revenue or net profit. But are they focusing on what really matters?

MORE: Tomorrow’s Leader in 9 Bullet Points | CHECKLIST: 18 Essential Steps to Effective Billing | How to Get Partners to Accept a New Pricing Philosophy | 12 Pricing Factors Beyond Cost | 13 Questions about Providing Value | How to Shift from Production to Marketing Orientation
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Profitable businesses involve more than just selling more products and services to increase revenues. There is an old joke in the retail business: A salesperson tells the manager that they are losing $1 on every shirt they sell. The manager says, “Don’t worry, we can make it up in volume.”
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Client Centricity Leads to Profitability

Man's fist with "thumbs up" crashing through paper wall; smiley face and gold crown on thumbThis is a job for your line partners, not your marketing department.

By August J. Aquila
Price It Right

As one who has been on the inside of accounting firms as a partner and marketing director trying to implement such concepts as client centricity, I can honestly say that most marketing and management concepts are easier said than done.

MORE: Tomorrow’s Leader in 9 Bullet Points | CHECKLIST: 18 Essential Steps to Effective Billing | How to Get Partners to Accept a New Pricing Philosophy | 12 Pricing Factors Beyond Cost | How Utility and Value Affect Pricing | Understanding the Product Pricing Life Cycle | 4 Ways a Production Orientation Can Harm a Firm
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When it comes to clients, many partners think they know what their clients really want, but in reality they scarcely do. In short, most client-centric service strategies produce neither the “wow” factor nor the profits.
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Tomorrow’s Leader in 9 Bullet Points

Number 9 created by gaps between many small green plastic 9'sDon't have them all? Pick one and get started.

By August J. Aquila
Price It Right

Everything the firm does from this moment on flows from this decision, including the firm’s strategy, reputation, the ability to attract critical talent and how well it will execute its plans.

MORE: CHECKLIST: 18 Essential Steps to Effective Billing | 6 Steps to Making Your New Pricing Happen | Preparing to Change Pricing Philosophy | Ethical Issues in Pricing | How Utility and Value Affect Pricing | Understanding the Product Pricing Life Cycle | 4 Ways a Production Orientation Can Harm a Firm
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Selecting the strongest rainmaker or the longest tenured partner, no matter how well liked, can quickly send the firm in the wrong direction if the candidate is underprepared or an inadequate leader.
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SURVEY: Tiered Partnerships? It’s Happening

Businessman ascending three stepsTransition, staff shortages remain issues.

By August Aquila
Rosenberg MAP Survey

First, while the merger frenzy continued in 2016, firms were becoming more selective in the type of firms they were acquiring. Over the last several years, firms were acquiring for the sake of more volume.

MORE FROM THE MAP SURVEY: Extending Retirement Turns off Future Leaders | Firms Struggle to Retain Clients, Key Players | Staffing and Succession Still Rocking Firms | Will Staffing Challenges Change the Definition of Partner?
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2016 was different. Firms didn’t want to just add more volume, they were looking for specific niches that would strengthen their existing practices. Also, it became more evident that firms were struggling with the fact that they had acquired a lot of problems.
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