The most successful accountancy firms of the future will be those that learn how to tap into the creative talent and passion of their team members by implementing innovative management models, according to Principa founder and chief executive Ric Payne.
This represents a significant departure from the hierarchical, command-and-control model used by service firms, such as accounting practices, for more than 100 years.
Payne, who has been instrumental in revolutionising accountancy around the world, is set to deliver the keynote speech at the 2012 Practice Excellence Awards, where he will share this vision of the future with the profession.
As a pioneer of the Accountants’ Boot Camp and various other ground-breaking initiatives Payne will shed some light on the next chapter of practice development and management strategy.
In the build-up to the awards Payne revealed his thoughts to AccountingWEB on where he thinks the profession is heading.
“The management model that was developed and prevailed during last century is failing, especially for Gen X & Y people,” he said. “Future sustainable competitive advantage is going to come from different ways to lead and manage people that more closely parallel the architecture of the web – robust social networks, high levels of collaboration, strong sense of purpose that goes beyond “salary”, intense desire to grow and be happy in work and life.”
This is built on the rapidly growing area of positive psychology and what Payne and his colleagues are doing at Principa is tying this back to firm strategy development.
“I think the profession is going to start to hear a lot about this in the next decade and progressive firms are now realising that the “way” people are organised and managed has as much or more impact on productivity as the technology they use.”
He explained that to attract and retain the best people and tap into their creative talents and passion, firms will need to turn their traditional belief about the management of people on its head.
“The firm of the future will be one that introduces a management model that is focused on creating a work environment that accommodates flexibility, creativity, self-management, mobility and inclusivity,” he said.
Payne added that the vast majority of practitioners spend far too much time looking for the ‘secret’ formula that will transform their practice – "they ask questions like ‘How can we get more clients?’, ‘How can we attract and retain better people?’, ‘How can we charge more for our services?’, and ‘How can we improve the productivity of our people and our other resources?’"
Payne explained that these are all legitimate questions and the financial success of a practice will be driven by the answers.
He said the answers can actually be found in books, conferences or casual observation and communication with other practitioners, but why is it that some firms achieve levels of performance that far exceeds most others?
“The answer, I believe, is they think differently and make more “right” choices, more often! In short, they are better at executing, a better strategy than other firms and to a very large extent, that strategy is people-centric (team member and client) rather than technology-centric.”
The question that needs to asked and answered is: “How can we organise and manage in a way that engages and energises our team and excites our clients and prospects?”
The Practice Excellence Awards, in partnership with PracticeWEB, takes place at The London Film Museum on the 20 September. Enter the awards now and receive a benchmark report to see how your firm is performing against your peers.
About Robert Lovell
Business and finance journalist