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Prepare for an Exciting World of Change

Preparing for change

By Sandra Wiley

In nearly every article we read, conference we attend, internal planning meeting we hold or client conversation we participate in, the word change pops up. In some, it elicits a feeling of excitement. For others, it is uncomfortable or downright scary.

Our world is certainly on the move, and change has become a part of the normal landscape. One of the ways we can calm uncertainty is through knowledge and an action plan. Let’s look at a few of the changes coming our way and the positive steps you can take to prepare.

Changes in Leadership

Concern: Transition of leadership

What to do now: Confront reality and ensure that all of your current partners, principles and senior managers develop a personal plan for their transition out of the firm. Plans should include not only how they will transition clients but also their plans for the next phase of their life. The most successful changes happen when individuals are comfortable about not only what they are leaving, but what they are headed to.

Changes in Talent

Concern: Shortage of mid-level superstars

What to do now: The war for talent is no secret in our profession. Your checklist should include:

  • a 365-day-a-year recruitment plan
  • a strategy for developing talent quickly, including an intern program
  • onboarding to build engagement from their first day
  • individual training plans to let them grow at a pace that will motivate them to stay for the long term.

If you haven’t guessed, that means fast. Your best defense is to put a laser focus on the current superstars and sponsor them. That means giving them your wisdom, time and talent daily. If they feel connected, important and challenged, you will retain those superstars that you are currently out trying to find.

Changes in Growth

Concern: The incredible shrinking world of compliance work

What to do now: You may not be feeling the loss yet, but you will. Given the new technologies in play and the comfort of the next generation with those technologies, we must begin making changes now that will protect our growth goals in the future. A good place to start is by finding a peer network that will walk with you as you educate yourself, identify how to use process and technology more effectively, and build a true business advisory practice. Many seasoned leaders already feel they are conducting advising or consulting type work with their clients. However, that is being done in a silo by select leaders. It is not a firm-wide initiative that includes training on new skills, pricing, packaging, strategizing and implementing at all stages of the firm’s strategic plan.

Changes in Technology

Concern: Preparing for a world where cloud, artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain are the norm

What to do now: The best thing to do now is educate, educate, educate. If you have not moved to the cloud yet, do it. If you are unsure what AI really is and how it will affect your tax and audit compliance work, read about it. If you have heard of blockchain or Bitcoin and you say, “Right, and I believe in the zombie apocalypse too,” do yourself a favor and watch the TED Talks by futurists like Don Tapscott or Bettina Warburg. They describe these new technologies in completely understandable terms. Then, surround yourself with a community of the smartest people you know to get a head start on making the new world of AI and blockchain not only understandable, but an exciting new strategic direction for your firm.

Change does not have to be scary; it can be your protective shield for an amazing future. The choice is yours. Embrace it and be prepared; ignore it and fall behind.

Sandra WileySandra Wiley is President of Boomer Consulting, Inc.