Law firms are experiencing similar challenges to the accounting profession when it comes to CPA firm growth. To understand this better, the Major Firms Growth Council of AAM invited an innovative legal business developer to share how law firms approach growth and change management. Rory Channer, chief business and client development officer with McDermott Will & Emery in Washington, DC, shared the industry’s belief that half of all law firms may not exist in the next five to 10 years.
To combat this, McDermott has a simple growth strategy and 12-part business development infrastructure that focuses on integrated programming designed to drive growth and business development that can be measured. Channer was quick to report that all program results need to drive a solid return on investment to be maintained in future growth plans. In all cases, Channer was able to report the finite ROI results of each growth program.
Channer shared insights on three of his programs:
- Training. A key program of the McDermott growth strategy is training — an intensive one-day workshop — that is complemented with additional coaching for nine months.
- Client listening and feedback. This program is conducted by a third party and provides predictive analytics on client retention, loyalty and the likelihood to purchase additional services.
- Event commercialization. McDermott aims to capitalize on “commercializing” their events with specific pre-planning, during and post-event actions that create opportunities to drive ROI.
The most important learning was the integration and measurement that yielded impressive results for the large, international law firm.
CPA Firm Growth Pain Points Overlap for Firms of All Sizes
Members of Major Firms are experiencing and talking about many of the issues that many of you face too. Other areas of discussion at the meeting included:
- Client Voice. How do you find out what the client wants and how do you use it to grow? Some firms use brainstorming sessions with the team while others use surveys and case studies. The bottom line is that meaningful conversations turn into opportunities.
- Strategic Engagement of Accounting Firm Partners. Growth needs to be prioritized and focused to support the effective use of resources. While advisory services will increase in importance, you cannot forget the value that annuity services bring.
- Strategies for CPA Firm Growth. The talent pipeline is a critical factor. Having the right people in the right roles will be important to the growth and the profile of a desired candidate is changing. Focus on managing middle performers to raise their level of performance while making smart decisions on poor performers.
- MarTech Stack. Technology also plays a role in CPA firm growth, not just with automation, but with tools like CRM. Most importantly is how these tools are used.
- Sales Teams. For the accounting firms that invest in them, how they are measured, compensated and credited are important to success.
CPA Firm Growth Areas to Invest In
As the industry is changing, leaders of major firms use the Growth Council to share ideas and challenges. This includes investments they would make given the funds. The three areas where they would invest at this time include:
- Recruitment of new talent and training
- Digital marketing and data analytics
- Leadership and ownership of growth
To evolve as a marketer and within this profession, you need to try new things. What are you going to invest in this year to make a difference for your firm? How are you going to make your case to get the dollars needed? (AAM’s Marketing Budget Benchmark Study may be able to help.)
Like law firms, our profession is expected to look different in the next decade. As you set your firm’s strategy, look not only within our profession but outside of it. The insights should help you chart your firm’s best course.
About the Major Firms Growth Council of AAM. The Council is a select group of growth leaders who collaborate on how to drive growth, as well as the transformation and sustainability of the profession. Established in 2017, the first meeting of the Major Firms Growth Council took place at ENGAGE with 15 firms participating in person or by phone. Today, this group has evolved to include 20 of the top 30 firms that meet twice a year to discuss topics of importance. The Council’s activities are coordinated by The Association for Accounting Marketing.
About Lauren Clemmer
Lauren Clemmer is the Executive Director for the Association for Accounting Marketing. Prior to becoming the director, Lauren was an active member, participating in the Membership Satisfaction committee and then as co-chair of Virtual Education which includes AAM High Webinars and Virtual Campfires. In her role as executive director, Lauren works with the with the board president, the executive committee and the board of directors to drive AAM’s vision and strategic plan. Her responsibilities include the general administration of all AAM business, managing vendor and partner relationships, enhancing member engagement and loyalty, and serving as the voice of membership.
Lauren gives back to her community as a member of the Women’s Board for the Boy and Girls Clubs of Cleveland.