Leadership / Management

Seven keys to success in CPA firm management

DSC02374 Our friends at Bay Street Group LLC and Capstone Marketing, two leading marketing and market research firms to the CPA profession, recently released groundbreaking research into the critical success factors for today’s accounting firm. They identified seven keys to success in CPA firm management.

Today, I am returning from a presentation where I witnessed a firm that embraces these, especially No. 1.

Here are the seven keys to success. (You can get the full report here.)

1. Leadership
3. Learning organization
4. Marketing and business development
5. A great place to work
6. Client service and satisfaction
7. Strategy execution

Yesterday, I presented the closing session at Kennedy & Coe LLC's inaugural leadership academy in Wichita, Kan. The firm has created a leadership academy that is one of the best I have seen in the profession. I presented the trends and issues facing the CPA profession and how to deal with these rapid changes on an ongoing basis.

The leadership academy was the brainstorm of firm CEO Kurt Siemers and Amy Shoemaker, director of talent development. Amy researched leadership development programs and worked with firm members on key needs. They then developed eight two-day sessions over eight months (around tax season) featuring nationally recognized speakers and facilitators. The programs is open to firm members (partners) and managers who were selected through an application process. The intent is to rotate all of their members and managers who are interested through this intensive program.

Having built our own leadership academy over the past five years and participated in the AICPA's leadership academy, I can tell you this approach is the right way to go. Yes, it is costly, but research has shown ROIs of 10 times can be expected from solid leadership development programs -- not to mention the benefits of recruitment, increased retention, higher morale, succession planning and increased customer service.

It was great catching up with Kennedy & Coe CEO Kurt Siemers, with whom I worked during the CPA Vision Project. (No wonder he is a visionary leader.) Kurt was the Kansas Society of CPAs Vision delegate to the national meeting that combined the research and developed the basis of the CPA Vision report. Much of my presentation tied in concepts of leadership, change management and strategy that were developed during the massive research phase of the Vision Project that are still relevant today.

Here is a copy of the CPA Vision report.

In another example of the leadership category, Kurt also has boldy gone where no other Top 100 firm has gone -- into the value billing arena, as featured in a recent Journal of Accountancy article. As he puts it, the transformation is not easy but it is necessary to focus the firm on value creation for their clients.

Congratulations to the 2009 graduates of Kennedy & Coe's leadership program!

What are you doing to develop leaders?