Sustainable firms

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In 2007 CPA Australia released its Firm of the Future report (PDF), which examined and extrapolated factors that would produce future opportunities and challenges for public practices. Many of the key drivers of change identified in 2007 were proven correct and remain a factor for practices today, including technology developments, business processes, knowledge management and a mobile workforce.

The changing marketplace

Today we are more connected via technology, location is becoming less of a barrier, social media means everyone can have a say and be heard, and we’re dropping the formalities of dress and written communication.

Enabled by technology, and an increasingly engaged public, practitioners are being confronted by rapid change on a daily basis. Consumers now want to be able to access the information and services that they need whenever they want and wherever they are.

In the past, consumers rarely questioned the advice of their accountant or financial adviser. This dynamic is changing and it is now the more financially literate consumer or business owner who is driving the accountant and the regulators to change. For practitioners, it is becoming more challenging to know the right direction to take, or solution to implement.

At the same time, regulation has become more complex to protect the individual and maintain the public interest.

How do I position my firm to become a firm of the future?

The information and resources on these pages will assist you to assess the readiness of your practice to transition into a firm of the future and provide a series of top tips to help you not just prepare for the challenges ahead but also take advantage of opportunities.

Be strategic, identify your space and own it. Bring in the skills you need, whether that is partners, staff or third party alliances. Accountants remain the most trusted of all advisers. You need to be more proactive in positioning clients for the future. Develop an integrated solution and embrace working collaboratively to provide a best-practice service approach for your clients.

To survive and thrive in the times ahead, the fundamentals of professionalism will help you to decide the correct pathway.

Key messages for the future

  • Technology is key
  • New firm structures are emerging
  • Regulation is becoming more complex
  • Client needs are changing
  • There are strong growth opportunities in non-traditional services
  • The product offering will continue to evolve
  • Globalisation will impact all practices
  • Recruiting and retaining quality staff will become more challenging
  • Increased soft skills development is essential
  • Practices must be investor ready and have an exit strategy to maximise opportunity