In our strategy work with regional accounting and advisory firms, one of the thorniest issues is how to migrate the firm’s partners to service line specialties. To partners who have been doing both audit and tax work for their entire careers, the thought of changing now as part of a strategic planning process can be downright scary. Paradoxically, when we run partner focus groups as part of these strategy projects, virtually all the partners agree that service line specialization will drive future growth.
Here’s why the case for specialization is so compelling:
- ● Increasingly sophisticated clients demand specialists in their industries from their accounting firms
- ● Specialists who have strong client skills are magnets for work and growth
- ● Only specialists can deliver high-value business advisory services
- ● Moving to specialization sets the stage to deliver low margin tax returns, simple financial statements and similar products from a “factory” environment at low cost, allowing most of the firm’s partners focus on higher value consulting work
- ● Specialists deliver better work, making clients more successful
- ● Specialists help the firm manage risk — when it comes to this issue, knowledge truly is power!
Once you accept this case, there is no turning back. The transition can involve heavy lifting such as moving clients among partners, making the investment in new talent and changing partner roles and evaluation standards. The result is always worth the challenge.