10 Key Attributes of High-performing Accounting Firms

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High-performing Accounting firms (HPFs) are vastly different from the rest. They look different and they act different. They are not focused on writing up history but making history! Are you one of them?


It starts with the business model. The vast majority of firms are set up like a ‘labor hire practice’ and that is not the business you are in. You are in the Intellectual Property business. You sell what you know, however the majority sell their labor. So, the model of charge rate multiplied by time taken is typical. The high-performing firms are selling knowledge as pre-packaged services and charging on value – not on how long it took to do the job. They do a job once, turn it into a product and then sell it over and over again on value. Not recreating the wheel every time a new job comes in.


High-performing firms run enterprising businesses, not lifestyle practices. We get a bit cheeky and say it’s time to stop practicing – you’ve been at it long enough and you should be good at by now! The difference is more than just words. The difference is a corporate model with business / general managers running the business and the Directors of the business following ‘the ideal role of an owner of an Accounting firm’ model. Directors / owners should only be:

  • Doing high-end chargeable work for the percentage of time that interests them;
  • Nurturing existing clients;
  • Leadership – new opportunities, new clients, new services, sales and marketing; and
  • Training and mentoring team members.

All four of those are high-dollar productive activities. Everything else could be classed as administration tasks.


HPFs invest more into their people then most firms. They pay well above average salaries, hire the best people and have the best environments to work in. They make sure that the right people are doing the right task – especially Accounting team members not doing administrative work and they realise that team loyalty is critical to the success of the firm and they do everything they can to retain the best people.


The systems in HPFs are different as well. They invest heavily into technology realising that the proper use of technology can make you more efficient, which helps improve margins and capacity. When HPFs get more efficient the price does not go down with the efficiency levels – it often goes up. HPFs have intranets, electronic working papers, two screens on every desk, proper document management systems and do not have physical filing systems – it’s all electronic. They start jobs on screen, finish on screen, file on screen and retrieve on screen.

Let's start a process of making a difference. Now is the time for you to make history. It’s time for your accounting business to achieve peak performance and transform it into ‘The Perfect Firm’.

The first step is gauging your firm's current performance status against it's full potential.


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