An Expert Sharing Expertise
The CCH Connections: User Conference 2018 will be here before you know it. In the meantime, conference planning is in full swing. With that planning, much time and consideration is made to secure the best session speakers in their respective disciplines. One of those speakers is Tom Hood, CPA. Tom is not only a recognized thought leader within the tax and accounting industry, but he is actively engaged in helping CPAs thrive in the ever changing environment of our industry. He currently serves as President and CEO of the Maryland Association of CPAs which many consider a preeminent leader in helping CPAs gain high level training and build strategic partnerships. Recently, Tom was gracious enough to take time to answer questions related to his upcoming User Conference session, “The Future-Ready Firm and the Role of Innovation”. Here is what he had to say.
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Question: Is the common business statement “Innovate or die” less or more relevant in the tax and accounting space, than other professions?
Tom Hood, CPA. Given the speed, scope and scale of change there is no question that ‘innovation’ and ‘transformation’ are being talked about as the antidote to disruption. All of the Professions are experiencing disruption due to technology and those who embrace innovation are most likely to survive and thrive. The great news is that the exponential pace of technology is allowing firms of all sizes to take advantage of these game changing opportunities.
Question: For firms that have decided to innovate their practice, do you find that most choose to move slow or fast with implementation?
Tom Hood, CPA. Our research shows that 87% of firms say that innovation is important yet only 33% say they are good at it. In addition most firms say they are not moving fast enough in today’s environment. The foundation for innovation starts with culture which is not easy to fast track.
Question: You state that there are every-day innovations that firms choose to make. Can you name one of the most common?
Tom Hood, CPA. We think everyday innovation comes from the ‘era’ – faster, better, cheaper. The easiest ways firms are doing this is with workflow and productivity solutions. In particluar, collaboration apps like Slack and shared folders and documents are popular. The biggest area is training your people on using the current technologies you have in place. That is everyday innovation and everybody in the firm should be asked to participate in these continuous improvement efforts.
Question: Which innovations do you think firms delay implementing the most?
Tom Hood, CPA. Most firms delay major innovations or innovations that require time away from billable hours unless there is an immediate return. These firms should look at the RONI – Risk of Not Investing. In a world of exponential change, standing still and delay is falling behind and risking a loss of competitiveness.
Question: What would you consider an example of a game-changing innovation?
Tom Hood, CPA. One game-changing innovation is the use of Artificial Intelligence in auditing and risk advisory practices. I have a small firm in Southern Maryland successfully working with AI in their audit practice. I have heard of firms losing business to other firms who had the use of AI in their audit proposal. Another example is a major firm that has shifted to be an ‘Anticipatory CPA Firm’ . This is where every member of their team is trained to identify future trends for their clients. They then offer insights about the future, a total proactive, windshield view of the firm. There are a lot of game-changing opportunities out there due to the emerging technologies and applications coming to market everyday.
Question: What do you see as the biggest fear hesitant firms have with innovating their practice?
Tom Hood, CPA. The biggest fear is fear itself. Actually fear, fear of failure, fear of losing money, and fear of the unknown are the second biggest barrier. The number one barrier is legacy thinking. This is exemplified by a mindset that we’ve been successful up to now, so why do we need to change? This reactive mindset or SALY (same as last year) approach is an innovation killer and will hold back the firm. By the way, the younger generation think this is a major challenge facing firms.
Question: Since you talk with many leaders in the industry, can you provide one of your better success stories/examples of an innovation success?
Tom Hood, CPA. I am fortunate to work with a lot of firms who are making innovation a part of their culture and beginning to see success from their projects. A small firm (15 people) using Artificial Intelligence in their audits, a major firm that has more than doubled their proactive consulting services to clients, a firm that created a game-changing app for one of their major service lines, firms that have created thought leaders across the industry lines with anticipatory insights about their client industries, firms that are starting new business lines from innovation projects, and more.
Question: In closing, which UC attendees should consider attending your session?
Tom Hood, CPA. My session will cover the reasons why you need to consider creating an innovation culture inside your firm and show you examples of how firms are actually doing this. I’ll share the latest research from hundreds of CPA Firms about innovation, transformation, and how to avoid disruption. Remember that what got you here, won’t get you there, anymore!
As in years past, our User Conference sessions will be informative, innovative, and practically applicable to moving your business forward. Don’t miss our best CCH Connections: User Conference 2018 event. Register today!