Looking Back and Taking a Leap Forward

As we approach the embers of 2021 I wonder how you view the prospects for 2022. 

This year started with the hope of a global vaccine roll out but is ending with the threat of further variants – starting with Omicron. It was a UK grandmother who became the first person in the world to be given the Pfizer Covid-19 jab as part of a mass vaccination programme. Margaret Keenan, who was approaching her 90th birthday, said the injection she received was her “best early birthday present possible”.

Today. Almost 45% of the world’s population has been fully vaccinated – which means that 55% have not. Based on the UK, which may or may not be a good yardstick there are 10% who are anti-vaxxers. I have done no further analysis but I strongly suspect it is the poorer nations who have large numbers who are currently unable to receive vaccines. Meanwhile many western governments are rushing to have their people receive a booster (i.e. third) vaccination. For further global data see Worldometer here: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

The latest variant Omicron has seen governments react quickly in imposing further lockdowns including border closures. 

So, here we go again. The impact on the profession has been dramatic, although we are not alone. Indeed, we have by and large fared well compared to those whose businesses have been locked down and who, even now, face the prospect of further stringent government directives. Meanwhile health works and many others continue to give their all for the cause of saving lives. 

Allan Koltin, a highly regarded American consultant recently said that the profession has evidenced “more change in the past 20 months than has been witnessed in the past 40 years”.

William Wordsworth a poet who lived in England’s Lake District wrote a poem which included this line – “the purpose of winter is to look forward to spring.” With that in mind I thought it might be of interest to look back at some of my 2021 blogs. Having reread these I can see that the topics have evolved as the year has segued from month to month. 

Key Observation: I was recently asked what changes I thought would occur in the profession in the next 12 months. My answer, bearing in mind that anyone who seeks to forecast the future is only ever guessing, is that most, and maybe even all, the changes are already present and known in the marketplace. In many cases they were already in the melting pot before Covid. Even recruiting staff has been an issue for the last 20 years. However, the issues we face are now accelerating. Changes that used to take place over a year or more are now happening before our eyes. Technology is becoming more complex and is increasingly replacing humans – as has been forecast for a decade or more. Maybe the one new issue that firms have to address is Working From Home. My views on this have evolved as the marketplace has evolved. Is remote working here to stay? Almost certainly, yes.

We will continue to explore these issues and a range of solutions throughout 2022.

If you know others who you think would benefit from reading this Practice Management Blog – do please forward this link – registration to the regular newsletter (containing links to the latest articles) is at the foot of this page – https://www.ignitepracticemanagement.com/blog/

So. Here we go at a look back at my 2021 newsletters. For ease of reference I include links to each article:

Newsletter 1 – January 

Chargeable time

In January’s first newsletter we looked in detail at some of THE Most Important Numbers to Monitor and better Manage in your accountancy business. Importantly this article looked at strategies to make the changes and then watch the impact on the bottom line. We looked at two of the key inputs to firm management, client care and business profitability, and that is partner chargeable time. We set out some very clear benchmarks while acknowledging that there is a wide range of results reported by firms when it comes to partner time on. Do you donate time to clients? Many do. Are partners charging The key is to report ALL time in order that you are clear on the RETAIL cost of serving clients.
Read ‘Key Management Numbers to Impact Results’.

Newsletter 2

Working from home

In my second January newsletter we explored a topic that was to become something of a recurring theme and that is Working From Home, although some refer to this as Remote Working. This article identified 12 important keys to developing ground rules, best practice, work-life balance and many other really important strategies to keep the work flowing and mental health strong and robust while children oft hover in the background.
Read ‘Deadlines and 12 Working From Home tips’.

Our second article on The Most Important Numbers to Monitor and better Manage looked in detail at two key areas where chargeable time arises and how to be more effective and create MORE chargeable, value-based time/service. I understand that it is easy for consultants like me to say things that are obvious without looking at the critical steps to make the change. Change – now there is an interesting and compelling subject. YES, we have seen ongoing change throughout 2021 – and so have your clients. Covid, technology, cyber security, workforce, lockdowns, remote working, supply chain issues, inflation are just a few of the challenges that many have had to deal with. So, in this blog we explored how to increase time on in “Desk Time” and “Team Time.”
Read ‘How firm owners can, and should, increase their time on (chargeable time)‘.

Newsletter 3 – February 2021

Classic car engine

As you would expect from someone who has described (by consultant Steve Pipe) as the ‘godfather of practice management’ these articles are, I believe, up to date, leading edge and replete with valuable insights and packed with strategies – advice that my clients pay thousands and thousands of dollars for.

Covid: Over the year I have written a series of articles on Covid – Covid and your clients; new normal, timeliness essentials and much more. There are in fact five articles – follow this link to view them all – https://www.ignitepracticemanagement.com/blog/category/covid/

In my second February article I explored the third and arguably most important area for chargeable time. That is client time. This is what I also refer to as VISIBLE time. Desk time and staff time, important as they are, are not visible to clients. Clients are the raison d’etre of the firm. Without clients there would be little point in going to work – whether that is in the office or at home. Surveys (my empirical evidence from seminar attendees and SAICA (South Africa Institute of CAs) reveal that as little as 60-90 minutes a year is visible time – that is face to face, eyeball to eyeball with clients (in person or online). There is tremendous potential for further time AND value – so you will uncover some really insightful strategies for increasing chargeable time (or time on as I sometimes describe it) with clients. RESULTS you can expect – happier and better served clients – more interesting conversations – more value – higher billing – client retention rates improved. Interested?
Read ‘Numbers – The 85% Realisation Rule – Maximising Profitability’.

Newsletters 5 and 6 – March 2021

Woman with a laptop

Having looked in depth at how to increase firm owner time on, this article looks at a number that is profit essential but not one that can necessarily be changed in an instant. Revenue per partner. What is yours? What should or could it be? In this article we explore a few benchmarks and leave you to consider what targets you wish to establish. This is undoubtedly a component of Strategic Planning – not something that has necessarily been top of the many firm’s agendas these past 18 months, but one that surely must be revisited now.
Read ‘What is your revenue per partner?’.

Having looked at a high level planning objective in gross revenue per partner our next article focused on a title known but very important KPI and that is Revenue Per Hour. What is yours – what are you aiming for – just to keep it heading north?
Read ‘Do you know the importance of firm revenue per hour?’.

COMING UP: In my next post we will explore further insights using my 2021 articles as a starting point.