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The Firm of the Future: A Guide for Accountants, Lawyers, and Other Professional Services

The Firm of the Future: A Guide for Accountants, Lawyers, and Other Professional Services

Paul Dunn, Ronald J. Baker

ISBN: 978-0-471-45618-6 June 2012 360 Pages




Provides accountants in small and medium sized firms the tool to expand services beyond attest and compliance functions.
  • Shows how to transition to other professional services that clients value.
  • Provides a pro-forma business plan for mapping a three to five year plan for the transition to a successful practice.
  • Positions consulting as an extension to traditional services, not just an alternative.
  • Includes many real world examples of accountants who have made a successful transition to new services, discussing the challenges and the results achieved.
  • Focuses on quality of life issues and how to get there.



About the Authors.

How to Read This Book.

1 Introduction.

2 A Flawed Theory.

“Analyzing” the Predominant Practice Equation.

Summary and Conclusions.

3 A Paradigm Worthy of a Proud Profession.

Why Are Professionals Successful?

Cognitive Dissonance.

Why Are We in Business?

Study Success: It Leaves Clues.

What Business Are You In?

Where Do Profits Come From?

Summary and Conclusions.

4 Intellectual Capital: The Chief Source of Wealth.

The Physical Fallacy.

The Scarcest Resource of All.

The Three Types of IC.

Is All This Stuff Good?

Summary and Conclusions.

5 Human Capital: Your People Are Not Assets, They Are Volunteers.

Becoming a Lightning Rod for Talent.

Retaining Your Firm’s Human Capital.

The Importance of Continuing Professional Education.

Rewarding Your Firm’s Human Capital Investors.

When Human Capital Turns Negative.

Summary and Conclusions.

6 Structural Capital: If Only We Knew What We Know.

Leveraging IC and Creating the World’s Second Largest Currency.

Converting Tacit to Explicit Knowledge.

Knowledge Lessons from the U.S. Army.

Summary and Conclusions.

7 Social Capital: Man Is Not an Island.

Is There an Accounting for Tastes?

Leveraging the Social Capital in the Firm of the Future.

Reputation, Brands, Referral Sources, and Networks.

Suppliers and Vendors.

Shareholders and Other External Stakeholders.

Joint Venture Partners and Alliances.

Professional Associations and Formal Affiliations.

Firm Alumni.

Consider Creating a University.

Putting It All Together: The Concierge Service Model.

Summary and Conclusions.

8 You Are Your Customer List.

What Do Customers Really Buy?

The Value Proposition.

Moments of Truth.

What Is Beyond Total Quality Service?

Is Being a Trusted Advisor Enough?

From Zero Defects to Zero Defections.

Why Do We Lose Customers?

Customer Complaints.

The 100-Percent Money-Back Guarantee.

Bad Customers Drive Out Good Customers.

Adaptive Capacity.

Firing Customers.

The Forced Churn.

Thoughts on Requests for Proposals (RFPs).

Summary and Conclusions.

9 You Are What You Charge.

A Tale of Two Theories.

A Better Theory of Value.

Cost-Plus Pricing: Epitaph.

Deleterious Effects of Cost-Plus Pricing.

Lessons in the Subjective Theory of Value.

Professionals Subject to the Laws of Economics.

The Four Ps of Marketing.

Are Professionals Commodities?

The Five Cs of Value.

Fixed-Price Agreements and Change Orders.

Fixed-Price Agreements.

Explaining the FPA.

Change Orders.

Negotiating Skills.

The TIP Clause.

The Wrong Mistakes.

Value Pricing and Self-Esteem.

Value Pricing and Ethics.

American Bar Association’s Commission on Billable Hours Report.

Summary and Conclusions.

10 Measure What Counts: Effectiveness over Efficiency.

The Gospel of Efficiency.

Frederick Taylor Enters the Professions.

Economists Posit Theories.

Accounting Is Not a Theory.

It’s 12:41 A.M.: Do You Know Where Your Package—and CPA—Are?

KPIs for the Firm of the Future.

Selecting the Right KPIs for Your Firm.

KPI Summary.

Refuting the Efficiency Defense for Timesheets.

Refuting the Cost Accounting Defense for Timesheets.

Is There One Best Economic Denominator to Track?

Summary and Conclusions.

11 The Timeless Practice.

Paradigm Drives Vision.

Vision Drives Leadership.

Leadership Drives Internal Quality.

Internal Quality Drives Team Happiness.

Recasting the Roles.

Would You Want Your Son or Daughter to Work There?

Core Ideology = Core Values + Purpose.


What about Strategic Planning?

Summary and Conclusions.

12 Some Words on the Future.

Is the Audit an Edsel?

Financial Model Reform.

Substituting Government Failure for Market Failure.

Multidisciplinary Practices.

Summary and Conclusions.

13 Epilogue.

What Is Calling You?

Continuously Develop Your Intellectual Capital.


Leaving a Legacy.