2020 Outlook: Non-Traditional Hires Might Be the Answer

ALSO: For mergers, it's a buyers' market.

By Marc Rosenberg

There have been four Babe Ruthian story lines that have driven the CPA industry evolution for 10-20 years.

MORE: 2020 Outlook: Focus on Business Development | Innovate and Anticipate | Balance Advisory and Compliance | Talent Shortage Drags On | Demand Is High | Business Development Goes Borderless | Data Import on the Rise | Becoming the Most Valuable Advisor | Top Three Tips for 2020 Success | Where Do You Want to Be? | Dicey Disruptions | Upstream Mergers | Staffing Gets Creative
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Just because they don’t go away, that doesn’t mean that changes aren’t occurring.
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Protect and Grow Existing Clients

Blue pencil on survey formHow your Net Promoter Score can help you focus.

By Marc Rosenberg
The Rosenberg Practice Management Library

We've discussed how there are four disciplines of CPA firm practice development. Here is how firms commonly spend their time on each discipline, or marketing activity:

  • Discipline 1, Grow and protect existing clients: 50%
  • Discipline 2, Develop and nurture referral sources: 30%
  • Discipline 3, Prospect to attract new clients: 15%
  • Discipline 4, Perform support activities: 5%

MORE: The 4 Marketing Disciplines | 15 Powerful Niche Marketing Practices | 19 Takeaways from the History of CPA Firm Practice Development | Why You Have to Kill the Old Paradigms | Are You Ready for the Great Disruption?
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Let's start by focusing on Discipline 1, growing your existing clients.
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Reward Partners for Performing Like Partners

Piggy bank on scale with dollar signsPartnership is no time to coast.

By Marc Rosenberg
The Rosenberg Practice Management Library

Any of you who started out as sole practitioners surely remember that it was you – no one else – who made your firm successful. You brought in the business. You did top-notch work and delivered it on time. You nurtured and grew your client relationships so they came back asking for more. When you hired staff, you who were responsible for keeping them busy and training them how to do the work.

MORE: Merging in Sellers: What You Need to Know | 8 Ways Comp Systems Get Partners to Do What the Firm Needs | Buyers Name 20 Big Merger Turnoffs | Why Governing by Partner Ownership Is Bound to Fail
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If you took days off from these activities, guess what? No one did it for you and your firm suffered as a result.
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The 4 Marketing Disciplines

How to deploy them as a framework for CPA firm practice development.

By Marc Rosenberg
The Rosenberg Practice Management Library

All marketing activities fall into one of four categories:

  1. Protect and grow revenue from existing clients.
  2. Identify and nurture referral sources.
  3. Focus on a well-defined group of prospects; get new clients.
  4. Support activities that complement those above.

We call these the Four Disciplines. Auditors follow certain steps of a predetermined program to perform an audit. It takes discipline to stay the course and execute the audit process.

MORE: 15 Powerful Niche Marketing Practices | 19 Takeaways from the History of CPA Firm Practice Development | Why You Have to Kill the Old Paradigms | Are You Ready for the Great Disruption?
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Marketing is no different. It requires discipline to engage in all four categories, execute the action steps continuously and avoid taking shortcuts or skipping steps altogether.
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Merging in Sellers: What You Need to Know

Businessman wearing glasses, suit and serious expressionBuyer beware. Seriously.

By Marc Rosenberg
The Rosenberg Practice Management Library

Dramatic changes have swept the CPA firm merger market in the past few years. Because of the avalanche of sellers in the market, as well as the changes in strategic direction many buyers are taking, buyers are being much more selective than in the past.

MORE: 8 Ways Comp Systems Get Partners to Do What the Firm Needs | 7 Points of a Well-Crafted Partner Buyout Agreement | Take Yoda’s Advice on Strategic Planning | Buyers Name 20 Big Merger Turnoffs | Smart Tech Tips from Top CPA Firms | 15 Amazing Organizational Tactics to Manage a CPA Firm | Why Governing by Partner Ownership Is Bound to Fail
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This means that sellers who always thought that their fallback exit strategy was to sell to a larger firm may be in for a rude awakening.
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15 Powerful Niche Marketing Practices

Three arrows in center of bull's-eyeHow specializing makes marketing easier.

By Marc Rosenberg
The Rosenberg Practice Management Library

Our profession loves to use certain terms interchangeably without fully realizing the important distinctions among them.

MORE: 19 Takeaways from the History of CPA Firm Practice Development | Why You Have to Kill the Old Paradigms | Are You Ready for the Great Disruption?
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Let’s clarify the terms specialization, niche, and niche marketing.

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19 Takeaways from the History of CPA Firm Practice Development

Illustration of marketing strategy

Plus a brief stroll through the world since Bates.

By Marc Rosenberg
The Rosenberg Practice Management Library

Sir Winston Churchill (and others) said: “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” That’s why we discuss the history of practice development at CPA firms.

MORE: Why You Have to Kill the Old Paradigms | Are You Ready for the Great Disruption?
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Read this history and see if your firm has learned from the many milestones in the evolution of accounting firm practice development.

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The Seven New Realities Accountants Can’t Ignore

Businesswoman at crossroads, facing two pathsWhy you must kill the old paradigms.

By Marc Rosenberg
The Rosenberg Practice Management Library

“As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden.”

MORE: Are You Ready for the Great Disruption?
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That great line is from the 1979 movie “Being There,” starring Peter Sellers as the simple-minded Chance the gardener, whose unpretentious dialog is misinterpreted by titans of government and industry as being extraordinarily prescient.

But this line is a perfect way to begin talking about CPA firm marketing and growth. The “roots” of revenue growth are these:
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Are You Ready for the Great Disruption?

Businessman in an umbrella sails in storm in the nightWelcome to Profession 3.0.

By Marc Rosenberg
The Rosenberg Practice Management Library

Many firms today seem to believe they can simply buy their way to growth. In other words, if they just figure out what the “right” marketing strategy or the “right” business development initiative is, they can simply write a check to fund those programs and growth will happen in and of itself.

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Unfortunately, this does not work in the real world, including CPA firms.

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8 Ways Comp Systems Get Partners to Do What the Firm Needs

Stylized industrial 3D number 8Is your firm's message clear or cloaked?

By Marc Rosenberg
The Rosenberg Practice Management Library

Years ago, a senior partner at a 12-partner firm retreat I was facilitating gave us all an “aha” moment: “A partner compensation system is just a way of allocating income among the partners. It’s not meant to be the primary way to manage a firm.”

MORE: 7 Points of a Well-Crafted Partner Buyout Agreement | Take Yoda’s Advice on Strategic Planning | Buyers Name 20 Big Merger Turnoffs | Smart Tech Tips from Top CPA Firms | 15 Amazing Organizational Tactics to Manage a CPA Firm | Why Governing by Partner Ownership Is Bound to Fail | 6 Ways to Retain NextGen Staff | How to Develop a Truly Progressive NextGen Culture | The Top 5 Concerns of Great Managing Partners | Partners: When To Speak Up and When To Shut Up
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There are two messages here, one obvious and one that is deeper.
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7 Points of a Well-Crafted Partner Buyout Agreement

Magnifying glass held over document with word "Agreement" highlightedSuccession planning is a daily partner duty.

By Marc Rosenberg
The Rosenberg Practice Management Library

CPA firm partner retirement/buyout plans have always created angst among partners.

MORE: Take Yoda’s Advice on Strategic Planning | Buyers Name 20 Big Merger Turnoffs | Why Governing by Partner Ownership Is Bound to Fail | The Top 5 Concerns of Great Managing Partners
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Prospective and young partners often question the plans because they see themselves paying into some sort of Ponzi scheme, wondering if their payday will ever come. The departure of impactful retiring partners seems to jeopardize the future viability and hence, value of the firm.
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Take Yoda’s Advice on Strategic Planning

https://cpatrendlines.com/?p=66294Seven questions to determine whether you're ready.

By Marc Rosenberg
The Rosenberg Practice Management Library

“Do or do not – there is no ‘try.’”

Those are the immortal words of one of my two favorite movie mentors, Yoda from Star Wars. (Mr. Miyagi from “Karate Kid” is a close second.)

MORE: Smart Tech Tips from Top CPA Firms | 15 Amazing Organizational Tactics to Manage a CPA Firm | Why Governing by Partner Ownership Is Bound to Fail | 6 Ways to Retain NextGen Staff | How to Develop a Truly Progressive NextGen Culture | The Top 5 Concerns of Great Managing Partners | Partners: When To Speak Up and When To Shut Up
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Yoda is giving young Luke Skywalker his Jedi training and asks if he is ready. Luke responds, “I’ll give it a try,” prompting our beloved Jedi Master to utter his famous quote. When I come across this line, it makes me think of managing a CPA firm (OK, I’m a little weird about these things!).

Over the years, many CPA firms have invited me to help them create a strategic plan. Most of the time, I decline. Why? Because they don’t have what it takes to be successful at it and I don’t want to be associated with a consulting project that fails. The partner group needs to be in a position to do the strategic plan, not try. To help me decide if they have the right stuff, I ask these questions: READ MORE →

Buyers Name 20 Big Merger Turnoffs

Trying to merge? Make sure your firm isn't guilty of any of these.

By Marc Rosenberg
The Rosenberg Practice Management Library

Merger talks hitting a bump in the road? Is a potential buyer losing interest?

MORE: Smart Tech Tips from Top CPA Firms | 15 Amazing Organizational Tactics to Manage a CPA Firm | Why Governing by Partner Ownership Is Bound to Fail | 6 Ways to Retain NextGen Staff | How to Develop a Truly Progressive NextGen Culture | The Top 5 Concerns of Great Managing Partners | Partners: When To Speak Up and When To Shut Up
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Here’s a list of obstacles buyers have cited. Not every buyer will consider each one of these issues a turnoff. Think of this as a universal checklist.
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