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If You Knew the Future, What Would You Do Differently?

Posted By Think, Plan, Grow! Admin, Thursday, May 2, 2013

by Rebecca Ryan, Founder, Next Generation Consulting, Inc.

If you knew the future, what would you do differently?

I love this question. Many firms like to think about the future - they do it every year as part of their strategic planning. But too often, strategy sessions result in doing more of what has worked in the past. It's like trying to drive a car using only your rearview mirrors.

As a futurist, I help firms use the windshield—to identify the trends coming at them, to give them a true, strategic advantage over their competitors.

Here are two trends that will drive intense change in firms. Is your firm future ready?

1. Demographics

Both the U.S. and Canada are becoming older. And browner. And the workforce is becoming more dominated by women. Currently:

  • Over half of all CPA grads are women
  • 25% of all CPA grads are nonwhite
  • 13% of high potentials are nonwhite (according to AICPA's Top Talent Survey)
  • 5% of partners are nonwhite

 Let's play this forward ten years:

  • Over half of your high potentials should be women
  • One-fourth of your high potentials should be nonwhite
  • One in every six of your new partners should be nonwhite

Is your firm on track to capitalize on these demographic trends?

2. Commoditization

Since the recession, many firms have been stuck in pricing wars, effectively devaluing audit and tax services to mere commodities. Today, clients shop for these services like they shop for boxes of cereal: a lot of different companies and brands and packaging, but all competing on price.

Commoditization is a race to the bottom. And CPA firms can pull a play from the software playbook, which suffered through commoditization a decade ago: wrap the product with great service and a unique customer experience.

How is your firm fighting through commoditization?

Rebecca will be the opening keynote at the 2013 Boomer Technology Circles & Talent Development Advantage on August 20-21 in Kansas City, MO. For more information on this event, and to register, please visit and

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