One of our team members, Emily Trott, came back from the Southeast States CPE Conference and told me I had to meet Joey Havens, executive partner of Horne, LLP (a Top 50 CPA firm). She said he was a living example of many of the concepts we have been talking about at MACPA / BLI, and she was inspired by his message of what CPA firms are all about and the challenges they are facing.

Joey believes, as we do, that “what got you here won’t get you there” and that firms are facing major changes and disruption like never before.

[plugin:quote]“The reigning paradigm of how to manage a CPA firm hasn’t changed for more than a half-century” − Ron Baker[/plugin]

I immediately picked up the phone and connected with Joey. Emily was right. Joey is a kindred spirit about talent, culture, and strategy as answers to disruption. Before I knew it, we had connected on social media (he is a blogger, on Twitter, and his firm is doing some pretty exciting stuff; you must check out his video The Horne Identity) and were sharing our thoughts about the future for CPA firms. Then, right before the holidays, he sent me a whitepaper he authored for the AICPA / PCPS, titled “Becoming the Firm of the Future.”

[plugin:quote]”The first challenge for leaders is to be willing to accept that your (competitive) advantage might not last” − Rita McGrath[/plugin]

In keeping with our philosophy that all challenges are frustrated opportunities, I took the liberty of flipping Joey’s challenges.

Here are the five steps to becoming a CPA firm of the future:

  1. Build a leadership pipeline to overcome The Leadership Void.
  2. Make your firm a talent magnet to overcome Recruiting and Retention Rationalizations.
  3. Walk the talk to overcome Seeing is Believing.
  4. Move to a new firm business model (yes, that means value pricing) to overcome Time Stinks.
  5. Purpose and passion are the heart of the matter to address Heart Matters. 

If there is one whitepaper you should read for 2015, this is it. Joey gets it and is one of those leaders who is walking the talk. 

I want to close with a quote from one of our Leadership Academy graduates at the end of our MACPA / BLI Leadership Academy: “Imagine if we create a sustainable leadership culture in which everyone is engaged to accelerate the great vision and mission we have. Imagine a room in which introverts and extroverts create an innovative, multicultural plan to help us reach our goals.” 

You might also enjoy several perspectives about the firm of the future by emerging leaders in our Leadership Academy whitepaper, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There,” and this blog post from our own Rebekah Brown, “The Future of the CPA Profession is … Fun.”

You might also enjoy this presentation from Ed Kless (one of Ron Baker’s Verasage Institute fellows) on the firm of the future.

The bottom line is this: Culture, strategy, alignment, accountability, and talent development are now more critical than ever. Or as Tom Peters likes to say, “The hard is soft and the soft is hard.”

These “soft” areas are the things that can make your firm a talent magnet and get the highest discretionary effort and engagement of your people. They are also what we have been researching and applying for the past 15 years at our leadership and learning innovation center, the Business Learning Institute (BLI). Let us know if we can help you or if you want to join us as a “kindred spirit.”


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