Posted in: AG Events, Mark's Insights,

Here we are in September 2021, and I’m facing many of the same decisions we were making in the early spring this year. Do we or don’t we go live, offer hybrid, or pivot to virtual with our conferences?

Back to the….Past?

I wrote about this back in March in my Decisions, Decisions blog post. At that time we knew the APAC Regional Conference and EMEIA Regional Conference would be virtual due to travel restrictions between countries. We were considering keeping the North American Executive Team Conference (ETC) as a live/virtual hybrid, with a similar approach for the LATAM Regional Conference. Feedback was telling us that about half of the regular attendees were in. All of those attendees, of course, were from the US, as there were travel restrictions everywhere else.

We were thrilled with the results of ETC, as I shared in my post The Future is Hybrid. And while extremely successful, we also learned some valuable lessons for the future. At that time, we felt confident that we were coming out of the pandemic and travel was going to open up everywhere. Turns out we were extremely lucky. We were also careful and had excellent safety protocols in place.

That was May. By August, we had to shift the LATAM Regional Conference to virtual, again due to limitations on travel between countries.

Plans for Fall Conferences

So here we are looking at our fall conferences. The Global Forum, which was scheduled for Dubai in October, has now gone virtual. Then we have our North American Summit in November, which is currently scheduled for hybrid. We’ve been polling our association and board members asking for feedback throughout the decision-making process. It seems many of our members are comfortable traveling within their own country—if they can—but to travel internationally is a risk that many aren’t willing to take.

Given that and the financial risk and requirements we faced in Dubai, we had to make a decision fairly early, and we decided to cancel the live option and go virtual. For Summit, while US firms plan to send participants and the registration numbers look strong, it’s unlikely that we’ll see live participants from Canada or other countries. And for both the Global Forum and Summit 2021, we have taken the lessons learned from our year of virtual and hybrid events to make each experience top-notch.

Changing Rules of Live Engagement

After traveling these last four months, I can tell you that the rules around live engagement are all over the place. We will continue to institute the appropriate safety protocols to ensure that live attendees are safe and that we’re following all the local rules.

Some have asked if we plan to limit attendance to fully vaccinated attendees. Allinial Global is not taking that position. We will, however, conduct daily temperature checks and require each participant to complete a health safety survey at the start of each day. We implemented both of those measures at ETC, and they seemed to work well.

We are trying to provide the best experience possible, whether live or virtual, and we look forward to a busy fall filled with great content to help our member firms with their top concerns.

Both the Global Forum and Summit are now open for registration, and we hope to see you at both.  


      
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Posted in: Audit, DAS, Mark's Insights,

How to Prepare for the Future of Audit 

This week I participated in the Allinial Global Latin America Virtual Conference, which reminded me of a question I’ve been getting consistently from our member firms around the globe: How should they be preparing for the future of audit, and what is the adoption path for US vs. global firms?

Datev: An Excellent Fit for LATAM 

We were fortunate that our key sponsor for the conference was Datev, which has expanded from a German-based audit technology into many other markets, especially in Latin America, as the platform is available in Spanish. Several members were very interested, as they are looking for new and improved options.

The explanation I gave at the conference rings true for many. I offered Datev as a great modern-day solution for those seeking a product in German or Spanish (there is availability in Italy and Poland, but not sure what the translation looks like there). We have several member firms in Latin America using the Datev Spanish version that speak highly of it.

Update on Dynamic Audit Solution (DAS)? What & When? 

But what does the future hold? I’ve been informing our members about the AICPA’s Dynamic Audit Solution (DAS) initiative that is looking to transform how audits are done. The initiative started more than two years ago, and it involves over 35 firms working collaboratively to build a solution. We have a number of Allinial Global members involved in DAS, and we are keeping in touch with the initiative’s progress.

What is DAS? Generally, it’s a platform that provides a way to “right size” the audit using contextual content based on logic to get to the right things. The approach is grounded in a “tailor in” vs. “tailor out” mentality so it can increase efficiencies only on the things that matter, rather than trying to justify the things that don’t matter to the engagement. Finally, data capture and data-driven decisions will reduce human error and let the data tell the auditor a story that can then be shared with the client.

I know our member firms have been pleased with the progress of the project. It hasn’t been without pain, I’m sure, but the focus on truly transforming the audit has made it a success thus far. Some of the feedback has been positive, with the project’s focus on continued audit quality and an effective change management system to make this change work for many.

Regarding the timeline, the first release to a smaller universe of firms will come out in September 2021. It will be limited to commercial audit only. The general release is projected for Q2 2022. After the commercial audit product is delivered, the specialty and industry audit guides will be incorporated, along with International Standards on Audit (ISAs).

What to Do Now 

So how do I answer the question of what firms should do today? For US-based firms, I tell them to look first at the OnPoint EBP audit module that’s already on the market. Pick one client and one limited-scope EBP audit to run on this new platform. This will give you an indication of what’s coming. For firms outside the US, start to look for CaseWare Cloud. When that comes out and you are already on CaseWare, you may want to make the switch. The system should be more intuitive than many of the desktop applications out there today.

Allinial Global plans to help all of our members when DAS is available to implement in their firms. With members who have already implemented DAS to help lead the charge, we will first assist US-based firms with implementation and then help global firms when a global product becomes ready.

If you’d like to learn more about DAS and the future of audit, we will have a panel of Allinial Global member firms presenting at Summit 2021 taking place from November 14–17 in San Diego. Our panelists will share their experiences and insights from participating in the development of DAS, and I look forward to continuing this conversation there.


      
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Posted in: Advisory, Audit,

SOC Services – The Time Is Now

I’ve talked in the past about trending services, and system and organization controls (SOC) reporting is near the top—or at the top—of that list. SOC reporting is a great way to expand assurance services for mid-size firms. Large firms are all in this business, and at Allinial Global we have our fair share of firms that excel at SOC engagements.

While I was at the AICPA, I was involved in strategic discussions as the move from SAS 70 to SOC took place. The issue at the time was that many companies, especially in the tech arena, were using SAS 70 incorrectly and something needed to change. Those who do EBP audits (as I did in my day) were very familiar with obtaining a SAS 70 report to provide assurance over controls over financial reporting for third-party providers. That has now become SOC 1. For those who needed assurance over controls and security, generally, that’s where SOC 2 and 3 come in.

I don’t want this to turn into a technical session on SOC, so that’s as far as I will go. But I do want to highlight some of the opportunities in this space. Recently, I sat down with members at two of our mid-size firms to talk about SOC reporting. Jim McGough is a CPA, CGMA with Wolf & Company in Boston. He grew up in the traditional audit space and is now part of Wolf’s SOC team. Pete Rife is a CISA, CISSP, and Director of IT Audit at Holbrook & Manter in Ohio. Jim, Pete, and I had some excellent conversation around opportunities and challenges in providing SOC engagements.

Opportunities and Challenges

Many current opportunities are focused in the financial institutions, healthcare, and technology sectors. Both Wolf and Holbrook & Manter are involved in SOC engagements in these industries. But it’s not just about the SOC engagement; many companies are asking for HITRUST, PCI compliance, and other certifications to be included. For international companies, an ISO 27001 engagement will be included in the SOC engagement. While US-based companies may be getting the ISO 27001 along with the SOC certification, there are technology companies outside the US who are now looking to add SOC to their ISO 27001 engagement. Having a team that can provide multiple certifications is important.

One common challenge in the SOC world has been finding talent. Of course, talent is an issue for many of our service lines. We are working to push outsource capabilities and finding capacity and capabilities from other firms, as some industries have different busy seasons. For outsourcing, KNAV, MGC Global Risk Advisory, and Ashok Maheshwary & Associates all have opportunities for current SOC providers to expand their services.

Building a Foundation for the Future

What if you don’t currently provide SOC services? Well, our members who do provide the service are happy to help. Both Pete and Jim mentioned that they have helped other Allinial Global members who called when a client opportunity arose, assisting in a variety of ways. Some firms will just let the SOC firm deal directly with the client. Other firms have hired Jim or Pete’s firm to serve as subject matter experts, with the client firm providing the final opinion.

A great way to get started is to have one or two staff members get the SOC certificate, sell the work with the SOC firm as the lead, and use the client firm’s staff to assist and learn. Then after 5–10 engagements, the client firm will have experience to grow the practice.

I also asked Jim and Pete about future opportunities. SOC for cyber and SOC for supply chain are two newer lines of opportunity. Both Jim and Pete stated that as of right now they haven’t had many requests for either, but they could see the opportunity. The Department of Defense, for example, has released the Cyber Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), which they will require DoD vendors to obtain. More and more businesses are asking for SOC reports as part of due diligence in working with their company. SOC is clearly an area of growing need, and we want to ensure that Allinial Global member firms can identify the right opportunities—and remember that there are so many ways we can collaborate.

If you have any questions about SOC and how to start, outsource, or grow, please reach out to me. I am passionate about this and want to see Allinial Global firms truly take the lead in this sector.

 


      



Posted in: Growth,

If you’re like most in the accounting profession, you’re probably a numbers person. So what could you possibly need to know about writing a blog post?

Blogs are an integral part of a strong digital marketing strategy, with numerous benefits specific to accounting firms. In addition to leading prospects to your firm's website, blogs can help you build brand awareness and strengthen credibility. That’s why the majority of Allinial Global member firms are already leveraging blogs as part of their content strategy.

Many of these firms rely upon staff for assistance with content creation and subject matter expertise. Even if writing isn’t your forte or part of your usual job responsibilities, it’s helpful to know your way around a good blog post.

On that note, we thought we’d share some practical tips to help you hit the mark. No matter what you’re writing about, you can strengthen your post by including three key elements.

1. An effective title or headline. A strong title accomplishes two important tasks: communicating what the post is about and capturing your audience’s attention and interest. As the first thing readers are likely to see, the title of your blog post should draw your audience in and entice them to continue reading. What makes this challenging is the fact that titles must also be succinct—typically 50–70 characters—and accurate, because your audience won’t appreciate being misled. So choose your words carefully and try to pique the reader’s curiosity, stir emotion, or generate interest by promising a benefit or a compelling story.

2. Savvy formatting. You may have been rewarded for writing long essays in school, but in the blogosphere, long blocks of uninterrupted text are a big no-no. Organizing your post into short paragraphs with headings, numbered lists, bullets, and graphics will help readers navigate the text and boost your search engine optimization and blog traffic. According to Semrush, posts with at least one image get twice the traffic of text-only posts, and posts with at least one list per every 500 words of plain text get 70% more traffic than posts without lists. As you write, think about how you can use formatting elements to break up the text and make your post more appealing to the reader.

3. A clear call to action (CTA). Don’t end your blog post abruptly or leave the reader hanging. Close with a clear call to action that creates a sense of urgency and tells your reader exactly what you want them to do. Whether you’d like them to download your content, follow you on social media, or sign up for an event or mailing list, your CTA should encourage your audience to engage with your firm and remind them of the knowledge and value you offer. Closing without a clear CTA is a huge missed opportunity to move prospects down the marketing funnel and drive engagement with your brand.

With a strong title, savvy formatting, and a clear call to action, you’ll be well on your way to creating content that you can be proud of. And if you’d like to take your writing game to the next level, check out Anne Handley’s book, Everybody Writes. Highly recommended within the marketing community, Everybody Writes will help you tell better stories, improve the clarity of your writing, and optimize your content to capture the limited attention spans of readers in the digital age.




Posted in: Growth,

Quick polling question. When you hear that Firm X is excellent at social media—specifically LinkedIn—and you want to check out their game, what do you do?

  1. Visit their LinkedIn page to find their number of followers, post quality and frequency, and level of engagement (number of likes, comments, etc.)
  2. Find some employees at the firm and see how often and what they post
  3. Is this a trick question?

Historically, accounting marketers have focused on growing their firm’s page to amplify their brand’s reach and impact instead of leveraging the power of individual employees. Over time, though, social media veterans have noticed that people prefer to engage with other people, rather than companies and their pages. Social media platform algorithms also favor posts uploaded by individuals over those uploaded by companies (with the exception of paid/sponsored posts).

Where’s my post?
Case in point. Raise your hand if you manage your firm’s social media pages and you have fielded an inquiry along the lines of “Hey, did you post about [event/blog/etc.] on LinkedIn? Because I don’t see it on my feed.”

You can’t see me right now, but I have my hand raised. Even though we would all love to ensure that our firm’s post appears at the top of every follower’s feed, the LinkedIn algorithm is mercurial. In the past, your followers’ engagement with previous posts and the timing of your upload (i.e., posting in sync with your followers’ activity on the platform) made it more likely for followers to see your firm’s post. But alas, based on some anecdotal evidence, it appears that the only guaranteed way your followers can see your firm’s posts is to visit the firm page and click the Posts tab.

As I’ve stated earlier, both people and social media algorithms favor posts that have been uploaded by individuals rather than companies, which makes sense because said algorithm is based on user behavior and feedback. To see this in action, check your LinkedIn feed and compare the engagement levels between popular posts uploaded by individuals vs. companies. You’ll notice that posts with thousands of views and tons of comments are mostly uploaded by individuals. Looking at my own LinkedIn analytics, I see that my individual posts can easily outperform Allinial Global posts, and AG has ten times as many followers as I do.

Leveraging the power of individual employees

So, going back to my original question: should we redefine social media excellence at the firm level, or as an aggregate of the firm’s employee activities? Data is pointing to the latter, and most social media veterans agree that relying on the firm page to amplify reach and maximize content impact is suboptimal.

This is why Allinial Global member firms like Herbein, Tanner, and Wipfli are leveraging employee advocacy programs like Clearview Social to maximize their social media activities. Clearview Social empowers each employee of the firm to share content with the click of a button. Programs like this make it easy to amplify your firm’s brand awareness, optimize engagement with internal and external stakeholders, and enhance the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. While Clearview Social appears to be the “it” platform for the accounting profession, there are other alternatives such EveryoneSocial, PostBeyond, and Influitive, which are well-known outside the accounting profession.

What will that cost me?

Great question! The total cost can be five figures depending on the platform and the number of licenses purchased. But if your firm is serious about leveraging social media, I invite you to consider the costs of LinkedIn advertising campaigns. We all know that advertising on LinkedIn can be expensive; depending on the length and target audience of your campaign, cost can easily run into four figures. Running multiple LinkedIn campaigns throughout the year can catch up to the cost of an annual subscription fee for an employee advocacy program or even exceed it.

The way forward

Whether you choose the “automated” (leveraging an employee advocacy program) or “manual” (asking/begging your employees to share your firm’s content) approach to leveling up your social media game, I think the days of focusing solely on the number of followers, likes, and comments on a firm’s social media page are over. It’s time that we harness the power of the firm’s employees in addition to the power of the firm’s page.

Fortunately, digital natives intuitively understand the importance of personal brand and how to establish and grow it using social media. Therefore, emerging leaders of the firm will be great allies in your efforts to make this transition. 

Curious about other ways to achieve social media excellence? Join our monthly digital marketers call! Check your inbox for a link to register, or contact me for details.

 

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Posted in: AG Events,

From June 14–15, 2021, Allinial Global hosted its EMEIA Regional Conference virtually, welcoming 70 participants for two half days of interactive online sessions. Our presenters shared some outstanding content, and it was great to see members embracing the virtual format and enjoying new ways to engage with association peers. As travel continues to resume, we look forward to hosting hybrid events that foster choice and increased engagement.

Below are my top takeaways from this year’s event.

No matter what, business strategy comes first. In his opening remarks, President and CEO Mark Koziel underlined the importance of technology transformation and change management. Although it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of new technology, Mark reminded us that business strategy should always be our first priority when we want to transform our firms and the way we do business.

Cultural fluency can build trust. Keynote speaker Keith Warburton of Global Business Culture addressed cultural differences and communication challenges that arise when working across borders. Participants shared their experiences in a Q&A session and in interactive breakout rooms, identifying ways that cultural fluency can help us overcome barriers of culture, geography, language, and technology. To succeed in today’s global business environment, your people need tools that help them navigate cultural differences with confidence. If you missed this session, our Global Business Compass resource is a helpful starting point for member firms that want to enhance cultural fluency.

Career transitions are important and should be managed well. George Wilkinson of Milestones London reminded us that major career transitions have a profound impact at both the individual and firm level. As we discussed the loss, challenges, and opportunities that accompany career transitions, George highlighted the importance of preparing for these transitions psychologically and practically. To manage the actual transition process, our firms must take deliberate steps to protect value, mitigate risk, and improve the experience of major career transitions.

Sharing best practices is key. This year’s conference featured some fantastic examples of member-to-member learning and best practices sharing. Zoltán Gálffy of Falcon Group and Philip Gudgeon of Schneider Group facilitated a discussion on business development that touched on EMEIA industry lines, client relationships, service excellence, cross-border engagements, and how to boost commerce and collaboration between firms. If you’d like to sharpen your skills and learn from like-minded peers, Allinial Global offers over 20 member-led communities that meet throughout the year to help each other grow and learn, including several communities focused specifically on the EMEIA region. We’d love to see you get involved!

Progressive content is key to success and transformation. It hasn’t been easy keeping up with the change and disruption of the last year. Members are looking to their associations to advise them on developments in the profession and to provide the tools they need for transformation. We hear you loud and clear! To that end, our upcoming Global Forum will feature a session on strategic planning and how you can leverage the work of Allinial Global to strengthen your firm’s strategy and future readiness.

Miracles happen. Do believe them! Member and second-day panelist Zoltán Gálffy of Falcon Group became a grandfather during the conference. Congratulations!

Thank you to all our best-in-class members who joined us for this two-day event. And finally, thank you to Mark Koziel for his inspiring leadership as captain of the enterprise. As we seek innovative solutions and new technologies for transformation, we are exploring new worlds in our profession, leading members to the final frontier—to boldly go where no association has gone before!

If you missed the EMEIA Regional Conference, join us at the 2021 Global Forum, a hybrid event where you can network and learn with Allinial Global members from all over the globe. The conference will be held from October 24–26, and registration opens soon. We hope to see you there!

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Posted in: Uncategorized

Earlier this year, Jessica Hekmatjah was promoted to Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at BPM LLP, one of the 50 largest public accounting and advisory firms in the United States. As of today, Jessica is the fourth and youngest marketing professional within the Allinial Global community to hold the title of CMO/CGO—thereby joining a rarefied circle of accounting marketing professionals who are part of the C-suite.

Jessica was gracious enough to set aside some time for a conversation about her path to becoming a CMO, and I am thrilled to share her keen insights and recommendations. One of the most frequently asked questions among the Allinial Global marketing professionals is, “How do I get a seat at the table?” Here are three practical tips that emerged from our conversation.

  1. Years of Saying Yes. No project was too big or too small for Jessica on her journey to becoming CMO. From clearing dishes during events and creating meeting agendas to moderating the firm’s Board of Directors Retreat and leading BPM’s Women’s Initiative Now! Program, Jessica consistently raised her hand when firm leaders were looking for help—regardless of any direct or indirect ties to marketing. As she built her personal brand and earned credibility among the firm’s stakeholders, she established herself as someone who would deliver results no matter the challenge. As entertainment powerhouse Shonda Rhimes explains in her book Year of Yes, you can transform your life if you actively embrace discomfort and refuse to turn down learning opportunities. And to paraphrase another accounting marketing icon, Chris Perrino of Barnes Dennig, there are very few cars on the highway of going the extra mile.
  2. Thinking Like an Owner. While honing your craft and delivering results within your specialty, you’ll also have to think about growth strategies from a firm-wide perspective. Instead of focusing only on growing one or two industries, ask yourself: What does the firm’s overall growth strategy look like? How can we transform the firm in the next five years? How can you leverage your passion for creativity and apply it for the growth of the firm? Are there services your firm should be offering based on market demand? As marketer-turned-CEO Eric Majchrzak shared during the 2021 Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) Summit, promotion is quite an important P in the 4 Ps of marketing. Getting a seat at the table requires asking smart, thoughtful, strategic questions and providing recommendations and solutions that differentiate both yourself and the firm. This type of business acumen is precisely the reason why Jessica is part of BPM’s Business Combinations Task Force, Management Committee, Inclusion Now! Program, and other strategic initiatives.
  3. Surrounding Yourself with Like-Minded Peers. Jessica is a member of two AAM committees, and starting next month she will also be an AAM board member. In January 2022, she’ll join the Allinial Global BD/Marketing Committee. Jessica is also part of The Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) Dallas/Fort Worth’s Programs Committee and currently co-chairs the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’ Leadership Development Group. She explains that joining peer groups in the profession and in the community is an excellent way to meet people and grow. Jessica schedules at least one peer call or meeting a month—over coffee or lunch—to stay motivated and connected.

How do you stay motivated and connected? If you’d like to learn from fellow Allinial Global growth professionals, contact Rosa Chun to join a thriving community of business developers and marketers who inspire and motivate each other by pursuing excellence every day.

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Posted in: AG Events, Mark's Insights,

Last month Allinial Global hosted its first-ever hybrid conference, which included the first live component in over a year. The meeting was held from May 16–19 in Charleston, SC, with virtual attendance as an option.

When we first made the decision to go hybrid, we expected attendance to be lower than previous years with a split of one-third live and two-thirds virtual. In actuality we had two-thirds live and one-third virtual, and the same number of total attendees. We can attribute our success to several factors:

  1. Far more members have been vaccinated, although they probably didn’t think they would be by the meeting.  
  2. Having the meeting at the Belmond in Charleston, SC, which has been holding live events throughout the pandemic, allowed us to assure members the environment would be safe with appropriate protocols in place.
  3. A dedicated Allinial Global staff focused on creating an experience that was almost identical between the live and virtual versions. This included using Conferences.io for polling and Q&A during sessions, both live and virtual strategic partner and sponsor booths, and breakout sessions and roundtables for both the virtual and live experience.

The live attendee feedback thus far has been nothing short of exceptional. Although some of this joy may have come from just being somewhere—with anyone—the virtual feedback was also glowing. Of course, several items of improvement were suggested, so we will be making some immediate changes for our next hybrid event.

  1. Depending on the live location, we will look to a better start time for all potential attendees. A North American conference on the East Coast starting at 9 a.m. is pretty early for the West Coast and nearly impossible for Hawaii. Maybe the 9 a.m. session should be localized to roundtables so that keynotes could start after 11 a.m. Eastern.
  2. Continual reminders to the live audience that the virtual audience is also participating. Even though using Conferences.io allows for a common Q&A experience, it’s important to allow for an open microphone from the virtual audience as well.
  3. Consider creating smaller packages of attendance or provide pricing in four-hour blocks so that attendees don’t feel obligated to stay on for the entire conference. Three-tiered pricing could include options for a half-day, full-day, or full conference pass.

Every attendee I’ve spoken to sees the huge benefit of continuing hybrid events. This is so others within a firm can take advantage of seeing and hearing exactly what firm leaders are seeing and hearing at Allinial Global events. Several members mentioned sessions that they wished their partners or leadership group could have attended virtually. Now they will look at future agendas to make sure others in their firm attend to enjoy the same great benefits of seeing world-renowned speakers.

One thing is for sure, it’s not a question of “or” when it comes to live vs. virtual—it’s an “and.” We will continue to see attendance grow as we provide even greater value that goes much deeper for our member firms, and we look forward to offering an ever-improving hybrid experience for future events. In fact, the Allinial Global team is already working hard on our next hybrid program, the Global Forum. Taking place from October 24–26 this year, the Global Forum will feature a live component in Dubai, UAE, along with a simultaneous virtual experience. Registration will be opening soon, and I hope to see you there, whether in person or online.


      
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Posted in: Uncategorized

I recently had the pleasure of attending a CAAS workshop for Allinial Global member firms. There were 12 firms represented, all at various stages of their CAAS journey. To understand the learning and the opportunities the future holds, it helps to start with the question, ‘What is CAAS?’  

Well, let’s begin with what it isn’t. CAAS is not recording checks written out of five different checkbooks so the client can capture the transactions. It is not transactional bookkeeping or monthly write-ups. Instead, it is a connected and holistic approach that creates consistent processes, cash controls, consolidated financials, multi-entity reporting, full financial visibility, and connections between all cloud-based systems.  

When we refer to CAAS, we mean Client Accounting and Advisory Services. We mean performing the transactional accounting in house so that we have the data to provide those advisory services that business leaders so desperately need. 

The Client Advisory Services (CAS*) Roadmap Workshop 

*Please note that while Allinial Global prefers the acronym CAAS with two As, CPA.com and other organizations use CAS with just one A. The two are used interchangeably in this blog post.

CPA.com’s Amy Bridges and Cherry Bekaert’s Dixie McCurley led this hands-on workshop, allowing our members to assess where they are on the CAAS journey and how to move forward. The workshop was a discovery and planning session. Where are you on your CAAS journey? Where do you want to go? Let’s develop a plan to get there.  

The workshop provided several opportunities to stop and reflect and note potential action steps, all in preparation for the final session where the attendees wrote out their CAAS roadmaps. Facilitators also allowed time for some role play, which helped attendees learn to articulate the value and potential that a robust CAAS practice can provide. 

Attendees are walking away with a documented roadmap of next steps for their CAAS practice. Next steps will vary depending on where you are in the journey, but here are some things you can do to use this momentum to propel your firm forward. 

A successful CAAS practice (which Mark Koziel has outlined in Part 1 and Part 2 of a previous post) requires new and different thinking. I’ve heard Tom Hood say many times before, “First, we have to unlearn. Then, we can relearn.” For CAAS to be successful, we will have to staff differently. We will have to price differently. We will have to work differently. We will have to proceed with open minds and creative ideas. 

CAAS is a huge opportunity for CPA firms to show their clients real, meaningful insights above and beyond what has been done before. It’s an opportunity for our emerging leaders to take ownership of this practice and demonstrate their leadership skills. It’s an opportunity to attract some diverse talent that is really looking to make a difference in the lives of our clients. Let’s seize the opportunity!

According to Erik Asgeirsson, CEO at CPA.com, “CAS is still in the early stages. Maybe in the second or third inning, with still a lot of opportunity to advance.” It’s okay if you are new at this. The most important thing is having the courage to start. Start somewhere. Start now.  Allinial Global will be here to support you each step of the way. Be independent, but don’t go it alone. 

 

 

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Posted in: Uncategorized

Last week I spent the better part of two days attending our APAC region’s virtual conference. I was honored to kick off and close the sessions, and in between I was amazed at the quality of the presentations.

Technology futurist Ian Khan led the first day, confirming many of the discussions we’re having with member firms about the future and working with clients in the current environment. Then a variety of member-driven sessions complemented Ian’s message, highlighting ways we can work together and capitalize on new opportunities.

The overall theme of the conference was Re-Imagine, Re-Position, and Re-Create, and I really enjoyed the focus on turning ideas into real action. There were many actionable moments for members to get involved in new communities that leverage the talents of various firms and focus on generating more work for everyone.

Below are my top three takeaways from this year’s event.

1. The talent war is everywhere. Throughout the conference there was discussion of finding and attracting talent, including how to compete with the Big Four and what we do at the university level. As the pandemic continues, firms are also grappling with new ways of engaging. In a recent McKinsey study, over 50 percent of respondents stated that they’d like to work from home at least three days per week. These preferences have huge implications not only for office culture but also for the ways we recruit new talent. The way we work is changing, and firms need to address those changes proactively to secure the talent they need to thrive in the post-pandemic world.

Similarly, all organizations should be discussing resilience and mental health. Even the strongest firms have team members who live alone or feel stressed, burned out, and unsure of what the future will bring. While this issue is universal across all countries, McKinsey’s recent survey indicated that organizations with clearer communication are seeing positive impacts on employee well-being and productivity. Taking time to clearly articulate policies and communicate about the future can do a world of good for the well-being of your staff.

2. Opportunities abound. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Allinial Global members are honing in on a variety of new opportunities. In his presentation, Craig Stanmore of Enspira Financial discussed many of the areas of service where member firms can assist one another, while Mike Burfield from Bentley’s highlighted biotech opportunities in Australia.

It’s encouraging to see our member firms continuing to look for ways to work together—that’s what’s so important in the relationships built at Allinial Global. Stay tuned for future opportunities where we’ll drive additional regional connections for client accounting and advisory, forensics, transfer pricing, and cyber.

3. The firm of 2019 will NOT be the firm of 2022. We’ve been in a two-year pause. I feel like I’ve been talking about change management consistently the last five. Craig Stanmore referred to a few of my presentations during his session, highlighting how I constantly discuss the 3 Ps of a firm: Process, Product, and People. He then said he wanted to add a fourth: Pandemic. That’s very appropriate. Over the last year I’ve been saying that the firms who have stayed on top of their 3 Ps have managed through the pandemic very well, while those who haven’t kept up on technology are still providing manual compliance services and struggling to figure out work-from-home strategies. But the reality is, all firms have had to manage through the pandemic.

Even as we plan for the future, some firms have partners talking about going back to the old ways. The old ways are gone. Working from home and integrated hybrid relationships are here to stay. Those firms who embrace that change will thrive. Those who fight it will struggle. The pandemic has taught us a ton, and we need to turn those lessons into opportunities.

The two days of sessions at the Asia Pacific Regional Conference were really energizing! I’m excited to be here and proud to say I’m part of Allinial Global. Many thanks to the AG staff and APAC volunteers who made the conference a wonderful experience.

Next up is our first hybrid event—the Executive Team Conference—where we will continue these timely and important discussions. Hope to see you all there, whether in person or online.


      
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