Earlier this week I caught a link from @CPA_Trendlines about the “next generation” accounting firm. The article spotlighted Blumer & Associates, a second-generation firm in South Carolina trying to find its niche in tomorrow’s market. With an eyebrow raised, I continued reading:
Blumer’s “new management” theories, for example, mean a ruthlessly honest kind of client focus, including three essential hallmarks:
• a sharply defined niche focus,
• a “clean” client list and
• innovation “to create new services as awareness of client needs grows.”
Sure, this theory is great if your firm consists of fewer people than most Big 4 engagement teams, but I nonetheless nod in recognition and approval to the idea of change. It would be hard, however, to apply these thought practices to today’s large firms.
Just for kicks:
Niche focus – You mean spreading thin across every crevice of market opportunity, right?
Innovation – Slow moving giants are just that. Slow.
Lost in the article’s comments was commentary from management consultant Rita Keller commending Blumer’s challenge to the “one size fits all” approach: “[T]he next generation of leaders will create organizations that are more nimble and open to continual change and new ideas. They will not get new clients at a Chamber networking event, they’ll get them from Facebook and from blogging. They will keep in touch with referral sources on-line, not at lunch.”
Don’t scoff; this might very well be true. The long-term advantages of networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn are nothing more than “what-if” conversation bits better suited for the Twitterverse and blogs like this place. But think about it – Millennial’s are connected to hundreds if not thousands of people on Facebook.
These networks started in high school or college and will only grow organically as their careers expand and evolve. Friends and colleagues will move on from public accounting, and their new careers will be accessible via newsfeeds and status updates. Facebooking stalking will have a new (and potentially profitable) purpose.
Will shaking hands on the back nine be replaced by wall posts? Probably not, but the Rolodex is becoming irrelevant right in front of our eyes. Why pick up the phone when a brief Facebook message or direct message Tweet will suffice? Boomers can object all they want, but person-to-person interaction is well on its way out of fashion.
Just don’t go poking that potential client; at least not right away.