While the rest of us are wringing our hands over today's problems, more and more forward-thinking CPAs are working on tomorrow's.
Case in point: I C Opportunities. In the immortal words of ZZ Top, these folks are bad, they're nationwide.
I C Opportunities' mission is simple: Draft a blueprint for how CPAs can stay relevant and add value for clients in an increasingly complex world. The group has held two meetings thus far (the latest just prior to the AICPA's Tech+ Conference and Practitioners Symposium in Las Vegas), and similar themes have surfaced each time: innovation, collaboration, intellectual capital, customer relationships, technology.
These are things, they say, that will drive the profession going forward.
Look at some of the stuff I C Opportunities came up with at their most recent meeting — ideas for what they (and the profession) should accomplish in the next five years:
- “Break down the barriers of translation / collaboration with clients.”
- “Find a way to recognize the voice of the customer.”
- “Embrace technology that inherently involves innovation, collaboration, and social themes.”
- “Wow our clients with exceptional solutions.”
- “Create constant-learning tools that are accessible to everyone.”
- “Nuke the past. Forget about yesterday's problems and start building solutions to the problems of today and beyond.”
- “Get 'The Movement's' evangelists on a fast track to leadership in the profession.”
Notice those themes again? Customers. Innovation. Collaboration. Technology.
Here's the great thing about this group: They understand that what they do — namely, serving their clients — hasn't changed. How they do it, though, has changed radically. They're digital, social, virtual, working anywhere, at anytime, and often with a ROWE mentality — get your work done and live your life.
“If you do what you've always done, you get what you've always gotten,” said one I C Opportunities member — nameless due to the group Chatham House Rule mentality. “This meeting helps break the mold.”
A couple of other ideas from the group's meeting stand out:
- “Have an open communication architecture for software tools, freeing practitioners from single-vendor dependence and opening workflow opportunities.”
- “Create local accountant / vendor / support / partner communities.”
- “(Get) vendors to spend time with tech-friendly customers.”
Notice how the V word keeps repeating itself? Instead of moaning about the shortcomings of their vendors' products, these CPAs brought their vendors into the room and made them part of the conversation.
The message to vendors is clear: Here's what your products do. To better serve our clients, here's what we need your products to do. Let's figure out how to do that together.
Revolutionary? No. It's just common sense. It's only revolutionary from the standpoint that no one else is doing it.
We'll undoubtedly be writing more about this group as time goes on. It's only the future of the CPA profession, after all.
In the meantime, here's a question for you: Assuming the status quo won't work going forward (because it won't), how do you plan to stay relevant to your clients?