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, 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!

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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!

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Posted in: Uncategorized

First things first. Congratulations on having the curiosity to explore a literary rabbit hole! (And one relating to a notoriously verbose author at that!) This certainly wasn’t the likeliest topic for an Allinial Global blog post, but I’m glad you were willing to give it a chance.

As the copywriter at Allinial Global, I’m partial to literary tangents, and I’ll be the first to admit that I may have a bit of a thing for Mr. Tolstoy. While I enjoy nothing more than diving into a lengthy Russian novel, the good news is, I don’t have the fortitude to write an 800-page blog entry, and there will be no required reading for this post.

So, what lessons can a long-dead Russian novelist offer the accounting profession?

1. The value of empathy and different perspectives. Tolstoy was a keen observer of human nature and social customs, and he was remarkably open to learning from people in all walks of life. His novels and characters invite us to consider complex social conflicts, and thinking about these types of situations helps us develop empathy. Although many accountants consider themselves “numbers people,” empathy and related social skills are vitally important in a world that is increasingly complex and interconnected. In the age of AI and automation, these types of soft skills provide a distinctly human value that has yet to be replicated. When responding to client pain points, grappling with diversity and inclusion in the workplace, or designing customized user experiences, for example, the ability to connect meaningfully with others and understand their perspectives makes all the difference. 

2. The art of making the ordinary strange. If you need a new Russian word in your life, you can call this one ostranenie. Translating to “defamiliarization” or “estrangement,” ostranenie involves presenting ordinary things in new and surprising ways—and Tolstoy was a master of this practice. His novels are beloved for the way they capture the details of everyday life and make the familiar seem fresh and fascinating. In the accounting profession, there are plenty of opportunities to make use of this concept to enliven contexts that could otherwise seem tedious and dull. Whether you’re walking a client through the details of a new tax provision or guiding a new team member through an established process for the first time, it’s up to you to bring life, color, and energy that gets people excited to be on board.

3. Trust is your ticket to authority. Author and Nobel Prize winner JM Coetzee has called Tolstoy “the exemplary master of authority,” citing Tolstoy’s ability to make us trust what he tells us. One way that Tolstoy inspires trust is by using third person omniscient narration, writing from the perspective of an all-seeing, all-knowing narrator. While seeing and knowing all may be a tall order in the context of accounting, a thoroughly knowledgeable and trustworthy stance is certainly a goal worth aspiring to. Today’s top firms rely on comprehensive approaches that integrate various aspects of advisory into one holistic view of clients’ business needs. The ability to inspire confidence is critical to positioning oneself as a trusted advisor, and the most authoritative advisors succeed because they know how to leverage their knowledge of the broader business landscape to help their clients thrive.

And there you have it: three surprisingly timely lessons straight from the nineteenth century.

Who knows—maybe you’ll gain additional insights when you add War and Peace to your reading list for 2021. But if your schedule doesn’t permit for such hefty reading, you can always check out this handy list of writing tips on our website (and note that you’ll need to be signed in for access).

We’re signing off for the holidays, but we hope to see you back in January for a look at firms’ top three concerns in the new year. Happy holidays from Allinial Global!

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Posted in: Growth,

Publish or perish. This is a well-known aphorism in academia, an area that piqued my interest as an undergrad. A bookish philosophy major, I had my heart set on pursuing a PhD in Philosophy of Religion (and a ruthless disregard for making a living wage—a privilege for the young and foolhardy). Fast forward to 2020, when my goals and interests have taken a few different turns, and I still think of that timeless academic adage and how fitting it is for the world of accounting marketing where I find myself now.

As many of you noticed, we just published the 2020 Allinial Global Biggest Marketing Wins, an annual best-practices sharing publication that showcases the biggest marketing successes in the AG marketing community. Allinial Global members have pivoted beautifully during this challenging year—many of our firms went from hosting zero webinars to many or from having zero experience in video to producing an entire series.

The agility and creativity of AG marketers have been inspirational, and I can’t help but notice that #futureready firms who thrive during challenging times think and behave like media companies. My prediction is that those firms who still hesitate to venture into publishing—or more specifically, to produce content such as blogs, white papers, podcasts, videos, and so on—will fall behind their competitors and eventually enter the “perish” danger zone. This is because firms who continue to engage their target audience with content will only get better over time as they learn to improve their content marketing through trial and error. Furthermore, those who are more strategic about their content marketing will be able to further differentiate themselves and rise to the top.

Luckily, many Allinial Global member firms are already on board with content marketing. Instead of proselytization, their marketers are interested in addressing the gaps in their current content marketing game. Toward that end, here are my top three tips for making your content marketing more strategic vs. tactical.

1. Buyer persona. As some of you may recall, I hosted two back-to-back marketing community calls focused on content marketing earlier this year, and I was surprised to learn that most firms do not have any buyer personas. Instead, they plan their content marketing calendar based on their service lines and specializations. I think this is a huge miss. Yes, most companies, including accounting firms, have a tendency to navel gaze and focus inward rather than on the client. But to borrow from the Father of Philosophy, Socrates—know thy customer!

2. Buyer journey. Producing and distributing content based on your firm’s service line and industry specializations may not be optimal, but it still works up to a certain point—especially for existing clients. But what about winning new clients? Should you be producing different types of content specifically designed to win new business? Absolutely. What would motivate someone to switch accounting firms and start the buyer’s journey? What are some key characteristics that prospects look for when researching alternative solutions? What are the perceived barriers toward hiring a new accounting firm? How do you create and align your content with specific buying stages? This is where mapping out a buyer journey comes in.

3. Focus. I think focus is the most important part of strategy, and content marketing strategy is no exception. Most of us are part of a small marketing team, if not a team of one. It’s true what they say: we can do anything, but we can’t do everything. Consider focusing on a couple of industry specializations or mediums—blogs and videos, for example. I encourage you to choose the areas where you really want to excel and go all in (which, incidentally, is where our name All-in-ial comes from). You’ll be able to improve so much faster by focusing and eliminating distractions.

If you’re a member who would like some assistance developing buyer personas, I am happy to help! Ask me for templates that are both blank and completed as a reference point.

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

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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 Events, Growth, Value Pricing,

Last week, Allinial Global hosted over 50 business developers, marketers, and partners-in-charge of marketing on Zoom for the annual BD/Marketing Conference. While all of us missed the magical moments that inevitably happen while connecting in person, our members, presenters, and staff made the most out of two half days together and even set a record for the longest continuous Zoom session here at Allinial Global. On our first day, we went from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. EDT!

If you weren’t able to join us last week, I’ve shared my top three takeaways below. Most of us are familiar with the 3 Cs of marketing—company, customer, and competition. But have you noticed what I’d like to call the 3 supplemental Cs of accounting marketing—courage, collaboration, and community? Please allow me to explain.

1. Courage. As accounting marketers, most of us are in a team of one or a few, outnumbered by accountants who think quite differently from the way we do. This means that we face many opportunities to convince our executive team—with moderate to high risk-averse tendencies—to try something new for the firm, such as social media, Google Ads, or video. And here’s where our first supplemental C of marketing comes in. We need courage to question and change the status quo. Testing new approaches is a critical component of digital transformation. We can’t rely on Excel spreadsheets to keep track of prospects and clients forever. Sooner rather than later, we need to identify and implement affordable CRM solutions for our firms. We can’t rely on outdated websites and anemic social media presence if we expect to recruit the brightest young talent and win next-generation clients. We need to continuously update and enhance our digital presence with the help of different groups of stakeholders. Future-ready firms are transitioning to value-based pricing and leveraging three-tier pricing and subscription models for their services, especially for Client Accounting Services (CAS), and we need to find allies within the executive team to move the pricing needle. This point leads me to the introduction of our next supplemental C: collaboration.

2. Collaboration. For accounting marketers, collaboration with your internal stakeholders is obviously important. No marketing initiative—whether it’s a virtual or in-person event, email campaign, or new niche/service line—can be executed without collaborating with your practitioners. Depending on the project, you may also collaborate with other departments as well—IT, HR, and so on. In fact, we had a panel dedicated precisely to this topic for this year’s conference! But in a post-pandemic world where the pace of change is accelerating and unpredictable, collaboration with your external team is also critical. How do you pivot to virtual events when you’ve never even hosted a webinar before? Do you proceed with strategic marketing projects during uncertain times? How do you get into video marketing with zero budget? If you’re a member of Allinial Global, you’re in luck! You can connect with a virtual team of marketers who will not hesitate to share their insights and experiences to help you make an informed decision.

3. Community. Last but certainly not least, community is the third and perhaps the most important of the supplemental Cs. Whether you are a member of the Association for Accounting Marketing, Allinial Global, or some other alliance, having your own community of marketers is invaluable—regardless of your experience level in accounting marketing. At Allinial Global, we have a formal system to create and cultivate this sense of community by segmenting marketers beyond just firm size. Recognizing that the marketing tech stack is playing an increasingly important role for the accounting profession, I will be creating a HubSpot mastermind group, for example. I believe that we learn best by executing, not just attending a class or reading a book, and we improve the fastest by connecting to a community of peers who share similar goals. Cultivating and improving this type of community within Allinial Global is one of the things that I LOVE about my job, and I can’t wait to share my future plans with you all.

If you are interested in joining the extraordinarily talented and generous marketers and business developers of Allinial Global, please reach out to me anytime.

Posted in: Uncategorized

I think this meme sums up 2020 pretty well. It has certainly been a year to remember—or forget, depending on your perspective.

When I discussed my departure from AICPA back in April/May, I said I’d stay through July 31 and start at Allinial Global on August 1. At the time, my AICPA team and others at AICPA were working incredibly hard to help members with government assistance programs and getting through all the legislation. I stated then that I thought by August 1, this pandemic would be well behind us and we could move on. I guess I was wrong. But I can reflect on both my time at AICPA and what I currently see in talking to firms around the globe.

Here’s my top five:

1. CPA/CA firms are the ultimate trusted advisors. As a profession, we’ve said for years that we need to be better advisors to our clients. Well, the pandemic has shown just how good we are. All over the world, small businesses reached out to their firm advisors asking for help. Government assistance took many forms around the world, and small businesses called their CPA/CA firms first, not only for help in government assistance but also in general business advice. “How will my business get through this?” was a popular question that came directly to their professionals. Firms need to continue to leverage this into the future.

2. There’s a disparity between the technology ‘have’ and ‘have not’ firms. There were firms who were very ready to have all employees work remotely. Then there were firms who weren’t. My experience has been that geographies prone to natural disasters seemed a little more prepared, as they’ve been through some level of shutdown before—never to this magnitude, but they knew how to adjust. The firms that weren’t prepared did get there in a hurry, but it was highly stressful. Technology preparedness is important.

3. The firm business model needs to change. Many firms still try to justify value as inputs and hours. Showing up to the firm’s office or a client’s office and having a person in a seat is value in the eyes of firms. Not so much anymore. As a profession, we run the risk of reverting back to our old selves when this is over. But I believe the way we work has changed for a very long time. People WILL work remotely more often. There will always be an underlying risk that we have to go 100% remote again. It’s time to move to pricing for value, and better yet, let clients subscribe to the firm (more on this in a future blog). Changing pricing can change staff accountabilities to results-oriented, not inputs, which will in turn change how we work with our teams and clients.

4. Opportunity, opportunity, opportunity. “Never let a good crisis go to waste” is a quote that’s been attributed to Sir Winston Churchill during WWII, though not proven. But here we are looking forward to the days to come. The firms that have learned from the past eight months will take advantage of creating new client service lines like client accounting in the cloud, recruiting virtual employees, and possibly buying up firms who aren’t willing or able to pivot to this new normal. The time is now to take advantage of all these opportunities.

5. Mental health is important. My heart breaks when I hear the stories of some struggles during this time. Lockdown has not been healthy for everyone. We have to recognize that each individual is different and provide the support necessary, not only for success, but for good mental health as well. Blanket mandates of being in the office or not being in the office won’t help. It has to be a one-size-fits-one mentality. If you are a firm leader, or if you manage people, please check in more often than ever before. Hug your family, connect with your friends, and make sure we are all staying positive during this time. Some lives depend on it.

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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!

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