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.  


      
# Tags : No Tag



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.


      
# Tags : No Tag



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.


      
# Tags : No Tag



Posted in: Growth, Mark's Insights, Value Pricing,

In Part 1 of our series on CAAS, I noted an interesting phenomenon: as the pandemic sparked new interest in client accounting and advisory services (CAAS), the gap between the “haves” and “have notes” in CAAS continued to grow. As we’ve seen throughout 2020, firms who were already committed to embracing the cloud and transforming their practices are thriving. But it’s not just the technology that sets these firms apart—they are thinking about their services in a very different way.

So, how can you set your firm up for success with all the new opportunities available in CAAS? In our previous post, I outlined two foundational characteristics of successful practices—a clear strategy for your business model and a standardized tool set for your industry vertical. But what’s next after you have these items in place?

3. Pricing. I find pricing to be an art form, rather than something scientific. The challenge for most firms is trying to use an antiquated way of pricing CPA services with an innovative and forward-looking service like CAAS. I can’t tell you the number of firms that try to count the number of transactions and multiply by the time it takes per transaction to come up with a daily, then weekly, then monthly “estimate.” Blah. The client doesn’t care.

Successful firms in this category have thrown that all away and developed a three-tier pricing system. Typically, the lowest price in the system would be no less than what the client would pay for in-house services. So if the client wanted to hire a full-time bookkeeper who may or may not have the skills necessary to provide a reliable financial statement, that’s an option at about $40k per year, plus benefits, time off, etc. Alternatively, they can hire the firm for, let’s say, $3,500 per month, and the client will get better information, with full financial statements, KPIs, and a dashboard they can see 24/7. And if you’ve chosen your industry vertical judiciously as indicated on my previous blog post, each new client you onboard becomes more profitable than the one prior because you’ve already established a standardized chart of accounts, GL, financial statement package, etc. That’s the base price. We’ll discuss the next two price points in the advisory discussion.

4. Incorporating advisory services into CAAS naturally. CAAS is a natural fit for advisory, which is why I like two As in CAAS, not just one. Sure, the accounting is important, but it’s the advisory that truly makes this viable and incredibly profitable. And if you’ve chosen your industry vertical wisely and priced strategically, the advisory can be incorporated into the service in a seamless way.

Focusing on an industry niche gives you all kinds of data that can help you be smarter about what’s happening in that particular market. What one client does well can be shared with another client who may be struggling in that same area. And as you shift to three-tier pricing, you can naturally incorporate the advisory into the engagement. So if your base price includes the transactional activities, financial statement, and dashboard, the middle tier can include a planning day up front as well as regular check-ins that you and the client determine—I’d say at least twice per year, but most likely quarterly. Then the top-tier price can include everything we want to offer, plus monthly check-ins, budgeting, sales goals and systems, expansion initiatives, and so on—the possibilities are endless. You will typically see about 70% of your clients choosing the middle tier, so make sure that’s the tier with the highest profitability.

Some firms may feel hesitant about the advisory space, but it is the wave of the future. At Allinial Global, we’re working with third-party providers to give firms the tools they need to feel completely confident about moving forward. In addition to our CAAS firm assessment, we will have pilot programs from Sage, as well as a CAAS workshop on transforming your practice. I hope you’ll consider joining us in May for our CAAS workshop so we can start turning your CAS practice into a true CAAS practice!


      
# Tags : No Tag



Posted in: Growth, Mark's Insights,

As I continue to speak to member firms, it is clear that the pandemic has hit certain geographies and industry verticals harder than others. However, one service line that is near and dear to my heart has really taken hold among firms who do it well. That’s client accounting and advisory services (CAAS).

There’s a lot to say about CAAS, so this will be the first in a two-part series on successful CAAS practices. We’ll start with some discussion of how the pandemic has been shaping CAAS and then take a look at key criteria that can help your firm transform its practice.

One thing I witnessed in 2020 is the separation between the “haves” and “have nots” in CAAS. For over ten years now, I’ve been involved with a digital CPA community that has embraced the cloud and transformed their CAAS practices. At AICPA’s Digital CPA Conference in December 2020, I had the honor of presenting with Erik Asgeirsson, President of CPA.com, during his keynote address about this very topic.

During the pandemic, traditional bookkeeping practices continued as they were but with the added challenges of getting access to client information and getting the work done. Often, when those same clients were asking for help in advisory around government program support or ideas for back-to-work and business strategy, firms didn’t deliver in the same cohesive way.

In contrast, firms that have truly transitioned to a CAAS practice thrived during 2020. Some even had clients who had previously turned down outsourced services calling back asking for help! So, what does a successful CAAS practice look like? Let’s explore some of their defining characteristics.

1. Business model strategy developed and initiated. Many believe that changing the name of their existing bookkeeping operation will solve the business model issue. Not so. Starting with a clean slate and thinking about what it is you want to define, create, capture, and deliver in this service line is critical. The AICPA and CIMA created a great tool for this called the Business Model Framework. I’ve used this over the last few years and am happy to have that conversation with our member firms.

A few years ago, I was discussing this issue with the CEO of a firm that had just been through this process. Their business was entirely tied around CAAS in the old model. They had been performing outsourced CFO/controller-for-hire services along with some standardized bookkeeping. The CEO decided to sit down with his firm down and ask, “If we were starting our business today, what would it look like? Who would we work for? How would we deliver the services, and what resources would we need?” They started with a blank sheet of paper, and when they were done, they looked at what they created and realized they had an entirely new line of business. They even decided to start a separate company under that new model.

2. Selection of industry vertical(s). Part of the business model creation is choosing a vertical that you already know you’re good at or passionate about. It’s important to understand the marketing flow, how the business makes money, and the tech stack that will best serve that vertical. From there, the firm can create a standardized technology tool set, GL, chart of accounts, financial statements, dashboard, onboarding process, and go-to-market.

I spoke to one of our member firms in Europe recently about this exact thing. Their firm created a tool set for physiotherapy practices (known as physical therapy practices in the US). Their practice is thriving and continued to grow during the pandemic. They even decided to move their physiotherapy practice into a separate building because the personalities and the work environment were so different from traditional professionals. The firm is also providing incredible insight into the physiotherapy community and helping clients when they see opportunities to improve operationally. They are now looking to leverage similar insights in other personal service and healthcare-related practices to grow into another vertical.

At Allinial Global we are “all in” on helping our member firms transform and grow their CAAS practice. In fact, this February we will have a firm assessment available for our members to complete to help with CAAS transformation. We also have pilot programs with Sage coming soon and a CAAS workshop on transforming the practice in May. In the meantime, stay tuned for Part 2 and be sure to mark your calendars for our CAAS firm assessment coming in February!


      
# Tags : No Tag



Posted in: Mark's Insights, Practice Management, Top Firm Challenges,

Happy New Year! Here’s hoping 2021 brings better days than we’ve seen in 2020. The pandemic has been a truly tragic event with many lives lost, and I can’t begin to thank the first responders around the world who worked tirelessly trying to save lives and keep people safe.

For the accounting profession, I’d have to say we were quite lucky overall. I am forever thankful for the extra time spent with family, as well as the focused time that allowed me to meet my new team at Allinial Global and to connect with just about every member firm within the association. This helped me get to know our members quickly, which I found to be an absolute delight.

During these conversations, we talked about the challenges firms were facing today and fears of the unknown in the future. Here’s how I’d describe the top three concerns, along with some recommendations.

1. The new normal. Regardless of how firms fared in 2020, conversations always seem to shift to what the “new normal” will look like. Many are thinking of the old way of doing things, with all employees in the office, all fieldwork at the client location, all networking meetings in live locations, etc. But here are some things to think about when it comes to the new normal:

Office. Firms would do well to consider a work-from-anywhere policy that allows for personal choice and professional judgment. Don’t get caught up in requirements or percentages for in- and out-of-office staff or mandating office hours vs. work-from-home hours. Firms that insist on getting all of their employees back into the office through mandates will lose the recruiting game on the other end.

Clients. Virtual audits will be part of the new normal, so dare to think differently about client interactions. Interestingly, clients may not perceive added value in having auditors on-site in their office. A CPA in industry once told me that she sent her auditors home after three days of fieldwork in the office when she realized that she had never seen anyone pass down the hall between the conference room and the accounting staff. Turns out the auditors were emailing her staff all their questions, which could’ve been done from anywhere.

Networking. I may end up missing this the most. While conferences, remote meetings, and networking dinners won’t be gone forever, they will take on different forms, at least in the short term. At Allinial Global, we’re working on finding the right balance of live and remote for 2021. It’ll take some trial and error, but I believe the hybrid model will help us reach even more people from our member firms. For those who prefer in-person events, I’d encourage you to keep an open mind as we try new approaches to networking. Even if things look different, we are still stronger together.

2. Technology. Technology continues to be top of mind. Technological advances are here to stay, and firms need to keep up. For some, the pandemic accelerated the inevitable. It highlighted firms’ remote access issues and also exposed the limitations in technology available to the profession.

In audit, for example, firms are wondering what their options are. With cloud being a major capability need, many are researching making the switch. In certain jurisdictions, you’ll find tax and ERP software intermingling. In the longer term, there will be opportunity for APIs to find better solutions to ERP and focus on making the bridge for more simplistic filing using some type of XBRL format.

Another place where we see technology’s impact is outsourced accounting. During the pandemic, firms that offered a pure outsourced accounting model using cloud technology stacks found that they were busier than ever, getting calls from clients who hadn’t yet made the switch. This created a “haves and have nots” situation for firms that have transformed their client accounting services into the new way of doing business. These firms go well beyond basic bookkeeping services, providing clients with strategic guidance that saves time, creates new efficiencies, and frees clients to focus on reaching their goals.

Fortunately, there is still time to transform your approach to client accounting services. Starting late may put you behind the movement, but making the switch will offer plenty of opportunities for growth and profitability. No matter where your firm is with this process, I recommend getting involved in the Allinial Global CAS/Outsourced Accounting Community of Practice. We have some big plans for this growing community in 2021 and look forward to supporting our members in this critical growth area.

3. Resources. Whether the concern is human resource limitations or how to handle resources like excess space and capacity, your firm should have a clear plan to address resource-related challenges, including:

Human resource issues. Firms need to make sure they have enough people to get their work done. Likewise, those who are looking to expand need enough people to staff up the growth and expansion of services. Fortunately, there are more answers than ever to this dilemma. Now, recruiting can happen all over the world! Virtual work means unlimited access to talent, but it also means having the right procedures in place to support virtual employees.

Resourcing work. We are in an interesting time—many of the things we’re doing today could or will be replaced by technology. So, do we invest in human talent knowing that it could ultimately be automated? The answer is in outsourcing. Just about all services provided by firms can be outsourced, and I’ve had many conversations with firms about outsourcing to cover the short term. Don’t let human resource constraints prevent good growth.

Physical resources. What will your office space look like by the end of your next lease term? If you are thinking of reducing your physical footprint, consider your options for reinvesting space resources. Shifting things around can create new opportunities for technology and other future items necessary for growth.

These seem to be the top concerns for firms as of right now. When thinking about difficulties, it helps to remember that any great challenge comes with an immense amount of opportunity. In the words of Sun Tzu, “Victory comes from finding opportunities in problems.” Cheers to turning the challenges of 2021 into new opportunities and victories!


      
# Tags : No Tag



Posted in: Learning & Development, Mark's Insights, Practice Management,
I’ve had the honor of getting to know many, many firms over the last 15 years. Throughout my travels at AICPA and now as I speak to Allinial Global firms, I’ve continued to hear the need for greater business acumen skills from newer professionals.

But what is business acumen and how do you train for it?

Of course, to find the meaning I relied on my massive research skills—I Googled it.

Here’s what I found:

Business acumen is keenness and quickness in understanding and dealing with a "business situation" in a manner that is likely to lead to a good outcome. Additionally, business acumen has emerged as a vehicle for improving financial performance and leadership development. Wikipedia

I know what you're thinking: Wikipedia isn't always a reliable source, and you keep warning your team not to use it. But it worked here, and from what I can gather, many agree with this definition.

I’ve also spent significant time talking to firms about the future of the profession. In those discussions, I have often cited the Future of Jobs Survey from the World Economic Forum. According to the latest survey, the top five skills needed for 2025 are:

1. Analytical thinking and innovation
2. Active learning and learning strategies
3. Complex problem-solving
4. Critical thinking and analysis
5. Creativity, originality, and initiative

I believe that all of these skills intertwine to make up this idea of business acumen. But how do we solve for it? I did some research, and I could only confirm what our great L&D team at Allinial Global had already found out. One of the foremost experts is Kevin Cope, founder of Acumen Learning. He wrote a book titled Seeing the Big Picture: Business Acumen to Build Your Credibility, Career, and Company. I highly recommend the book for you and your clients.

Our L&D team had already started working on a program with Acumen Learning before I could even recommend the organization. One thing the L&D team discovered in talking to members and researching the topic is that business acumen training cannot be a generalist-type course. It will be specific to particular industries. But the L&D team also recognized that finance professionals have very different skills than, say, the sales team in an organization. So they worked with Acumen Learning to tailor the program to the needs of Allinial Global members.

Their plan is to offer business acumen learning to our Communities of Practice (CoPs), specifically to those employees who’ve recently joined a member firm and are just starting to learn about the industries and clients their firm serves. We are in the process of scheduling a course for the Manufacturing and Distribution CoP in mid-January or early May. The course will include two four-hour sessions focused on helping attendees understand the following:

How their clients make money
The challenges their clients are facing today
How to create value for clients

Our intention is to expand the business acumen training offering to other CoPs based on participant feedback. I’m excited about this new offering and think it will go a long way toward helping our member firms equip their younger professionals with the skills they need to succeed and better serve their clients.

If you are interested in learning more about the business acumen course, please reach out to our VP of Learning and Development, Kimberly Bates McCarl, at kbatesmccarl@allinialglobal.com.

# Tags : No Tag



Posted in: AG Events, Mark's Insights, Practice Management,

Meet Mark...Borg?

                Meet Mark...Borg??

From October 26-28, 2020, Allinial Global hosted its first-ever virtual Summit, welcoming a total of 255 attendees for three half days of interactive online sessions. We had a great time getting together to explore our theme of Focus on the Future, and I’m confident that we’ve all gained some valuable insights about where we are headed as firms and as a profession.

Attendance was up by over 30% this year, and with four concurrent tracks (A&A, Advisory, Firm Management, and Tax), there were lots of exciting things happening each day. Whether you were able to attend or not, I thought it would be helpful to highlight some broad themes from Summit 2020.

Below are my top five takeaways.

1. Strategic transformation. No matter which track you attended, you probably heard one message loud and clear: the future is here, and firms need a clear strategic vision to survive and thrive. When we think of change management and future readiness, we typically turn to tools, training, and technology. But no matter what change we are facing, we need to think carefully about the business strategy behind that change. The goal isn’t simply to dump our legacy systems into new technology or formats—it’s to build and execute a deliberate strategy for the future. Our Summit speakers provided some fantastic takeaways about what this looks like in practice.

2. The role of virtual. Hosting Summit virtually taught us that virtual can work, but it can never replace live, in-person events. Most of us would have preferred to gather in person in Vegas, but it was helpful to have this opportunity to learn how to navigate a new format and clarify the role of virtual in a post-pandemic world. While virtual can’t compete with the value of in-person connections (unless we all become Borgs), it can enhance and broaden reach. I think we are walking away from Summit 2020 with some great insights about how live and virtual can come together next year. Summit 2021 will be even bigger and better because of this year’s experience.

3. Relationships and trust. In a time when people are feeling increasingly disconnected, relationships are more important than ever. They are central to everything we do, whether it’s how we show up for clients during the pandemic or how we manage our teams virtually. And as our speakers reminded us, relationships do look different in a virtual world. While it can be more challenging to communicate clearly and maintain trust from a distance, Summit 2020 was packed with practical tips about how you can develop critical virtual skill sets that enhance connection and engagement during these difficult times.

4. Leading the charge. As I mentioned in my opening session, now is the time for CEOs and firm management teams to take charge and drive transformation. It takes a coordinated effort to get exceptional results—and leading that charge isn’t easy. We hear you. In our Summit evaluations, some managing partners said that there were certain presentations they wished they could have shared with their entire partner group. We have been uploading session recordings into Pathable so that you can share the presentations you found to be most helpful with your teams. This is a great place to start if you’re interested in sparking discussion and getting your team on the same page.

5. Common concerns. With the highest attendance and ratings in sessions dedicated to the CARES Act/PPP, SALT, international tax, M&A, and firm management, it’s safe to say that many of our firms are facing similar concerns. In that respect, Allinial Global members are a tremendous resource for each other. In this year’s Firm Management Roundtable, for example, we had some great discussion about what remote work looks like for each firm and how leadership teams are managing people they can’t see. I’m proud to see our members realizing that they can’t just wait for things to “go back to normal” if they want to attract the best and brightest talent. They are embracing “the New Normal” now by putting processes in place to prepare for a future where flex work and hybrid office and work-from-home schedules will likely become the norm.

I look forward to navigating this future together with our member firms. Together we will ALL come out stronger than before.




Posted in: AG Leadership Program, Mark's Insights,

Welcome to the Allinial Global blog series! We thought it would be fitting to celebrate the start of this new venture by highlighting another important new beginning—the arrival of President and CEO Mark Koziel. In our first installment, Mark shares what he’s learned from his first 60 days at Allinial Global.

___________________________________________________________

It’s hard to believe I’ve already been with Allinial Global for 60 days! I spent my first few weeks getting to know the team and the systems within Allinial Global. I also took some time to introduce myself to the regional boards and answer questions before turning my attention to the member firms.

One goal I committed to in my first year was to reach out to EVERY firm for an open dialogue. Through these conversations, I am learning about the firms themselves and their relationship with Allinial Global—both what they like and what they feel we could improve upon. Here’s what I’ve learned thus far.

1. Allinial Global has really great firms. I can’t begin to tell you how great our firms are, in all regions. I’m impressed with the collegial atmosphere among members and the fact that our firms are all interested in each other’s success. There’s no doubt that many (probably all) firms really miss getting together live. Although we’ve supplemented with virtual events, there’s a strong desire to get back together in person. I hear you. I can’t wait either.

2. While the pandemic created new challenges, there’s been opportunity as well. Since the pandemic has me grounded, I’ve been lucky to meet with firms virtually, which allows me to meet more members sooner. And firms themselves are finding ways to create opportunities with each other. It may not be cross-border commerce during this time, but firms are supporting one other through regular virtual meetings and discussions about what they are doing to socially distance, open up, interact with clients, perform audits virtually, etc. Yes, commerce is important to the ROI of belonging to an association, but the ability for firm leaders to build relationships and get together quickly to help each other is priceless.

3. Being independent and knowing you can openly share with others is a differentiator. I can’t tell you the number of firms who have told me that this is a big value proposition of being in an independent association versus a network or a large firm-run alliance. I’ve had members who have worked for firms in large global networks talk about how impersonal the live meetings become and the fact that no one is as willing to share openly for fear that it could get to others. It’s much the same with large firm alliances where there could be confusion as to whether the firm is independent of that large firm or has to “depend” on it. At Allinial Global, we are locally independent and globally strong.

4. Firm size and geography will determine the need for resources. Not all firms are created equal. Therefore, not all resources delivered by Allinial Global will relate to all firms—though I will say that there’s plenty for everyone at various stages. The smaller the firm, the more need for ALL resources. But firms of all sizes in all regions can benefit from participation in Communities of Practice and other Allinial Global learning opportunities. We do have some work to do in building better. While feedback thus far has been generally positive, there is still room to improve, and we’ll be working on that over the next year.

5. The Allinial Global Leadership Program is second to none. It’s been amazing to see the number of comments about the leadership program. This is where networking began for many, and it created relationships that are lasting a lifetime.

6. It’s all about technology. As I speak to firms about needs, technology comes up constantly. What’s fascinating is how common the technology need is around the globe. The solutions may not all be the exact same provider, but the need and the use are generally similar. We’re working hard to understand who the top players are in each region and how best to curate technology to help member firms make informed decisions. I’ve been amazed at how tech savvy some of our firms already are. They are helping to lead the way and support the other firms as well.

7. Commerce is a verb, not a noun. While the dictionary may claim that commerce is a noun, it’s important to remember that commerce requires action and socialization. Those firms who have invested effort in socializing and getting to know their friends inside of Allinial Global have benefitted the most in referrals and commerce. More commerce happens than we even know about. That’s great! We are working on ways to capture that commerce to better understand how much is really out there. We are also working on guidance for firms to help them understand what good commerce can look like, along with tips on the best ways to engage in it.

Of course, there have been several other lessons learned, but these are the ones that stuck out the most to me. At this 60-day mark, I’m about a third of the way through meeting every firm, and I look forward to connecting with the rest of you and learning more. I’m so lucky to get to know and work with such a great group of firms. Your success is our success, and I can see many ways for us to grow together.

_______________________________________

We look forward to continuing this blog series with a new post every other week. We’ll see you again in two Wednesdays!

# Tags : No Tag