Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Let’s Break Tradition with Non-Tradition

Prior to January 1, I have an annual ritual that I have adhered to for nearly 20 years.

Prior to the onset of a new year, I write down all the things I’d like to see and hopefully accomplish in the ensuing 365 days.

As one would imagine, some are easier to achieve than others – i.e. drop 10 pounds, budget money more carefully etc., as opposed to finally sitting down to write that novel or picking the correct numbers for Powerball.

As far as the accounting profession goes, know what I’d like to see in 2019 – one conference session – just one, addressing one of the fastest growing trends currently unfolding – the exponential increase in the number of CPA firms merging with entities that are decidedly not accounting practices.

It is estimated that 20 percent of all mergers by larger CPA firms are affiliations with businesses such as cyber-security companies, HR and payroll consultants, medical and dental concerns and data analytics firms.

Just last week, one of the major accounting publications carried four separate articles detailing such recent mergers. Last year I participated in a podcast on non-traditional mergers and it  received over 2,000 downloads. Yet, not one session is dedicated to that subject in all the major conferences whose agendas I have scrolled through recently.

Last year and despite all the evidence to the contrary, I submitted a speaking proposal to the AICPA to specifically address that topic at Engage 2018 and was not even given the courtesy of a response. To be somewhat fair to them, similar proposals were also ignored by several of the larger state societies in the Northeast.

Instead, attendees at various national and local CPA gatherings are regularly treated to the same repetitive bromides – engaging millennials, value pricing, choosing the correct software etc.

And some still wonder why live attendances at conferences have been declining for years?

But here’s the rub. With pending technologies threatening to reshape the way traditional accounting firms operate and automate certain client services, firms are or have been scouring the M&A landscape for specialty niches to help differentiate their practices and prepare them for those quantum changes.

Closer to home, we have over the past year, facilitated several such mergers and are on the cusp of closing two more prior to the end of January.

And yet, I continue to hear crickets in terms of anything remotely approaching the subject.

Sadly, I fear I’ll be a lot closer writing my novel. 

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