What is the Firm of the Future?

In the first part of this series, we talked about Intuit’s® vision for the accounting industry and four key trends that will lead to a dramatic transformation of the industry as a whole. In this segment, we will discuss Intuit’s Firm of the Future concept.

I would like to credit Ronald J. Baker and Paul Dunn with their book, The Firm of the Future: A Guide for Accountants, Lawyers, and Other Professional Services. I believe that this book and Mr. Baker’s efforts to educate accountants on the concept of Value Pricing have been pivotal in advancing change in our industry. I personally believe that this book has inspired Intuit’s interest in showcasing and demonstrating the firm of the future.

What is the Firm of the Future?

The Firm of the Future is:

  1. Online: The firm never enters data; rather, it focuses on data management and offering insight. Significant time can be saved by using electronic tools to automate data entry. In addition to time saved, data can be updated daily, offering a greater time advantage – immediate insight!
  2. Paid for value: The firm no longer focuses on the hours of input required to create an outcome; instead, it focuses on creating value for clients. This value focus allows the firm to earn higher fees and build greater client satisfaction and loyalty. The firm is able to focus on their role as trusted advisor to their clients.
  3. Connected to clients: Building strong client relationships is critical to the success of the Firm of the Future. The firm actively cultivates client relationships and seeks opportunities to add value to their clients’ businesses. Innovation and collaboration are key to the mindset of the firm. Enhanced focus on relationships allows the firm to grow significantly larger than a traditional firm, using fewer resources to produce greater outputs.
  4. Free of Timesheets: According to Mr. Baker, timesheets give the illusion of control. At best, timesheets are a backwards view to measure our inputs into the accounting process. Timesheets have nothing to do with running our firm better or placing a value on the outcome that we produce for our clients. The facts support Mr. Baker’s assertion, in that firms without timesheets have greater focus on value, greater employee satisfaction and are consistently more profitable.

Interesting Survey Results

Intuit recently surveyed their most progressive firms, the ones who have truly embraced technology and the cloud to offer their services to their clients (aka The Firms of the Future).

The results are interesting:

  • 72% saved time in their firm by automating tasks and being online
  • 77% are more responsive to clients
  • 66% reduced costs

Conclusion

I am going to paraphrase President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech: Ask not what your clients can do for you, but what you can do for your clients. The Firm of the Future leverages technology and tools to enhance client relationships. The true rewards will come to those that realize that they sell peace of mind, not time!