Fit to fight your way out of the recession

AccountancyAge has released a survey of the revenues of the top 50 +50 accountancy firms. Paul Denvir comments on the report:

The AccountancyAge survey of 100 firms makes grim reading. Most of the firms where 2009 figures are available show greatly reduced growth and many have suffered a decline in revenue…

If, as some suggest, we are in a ‘double-dip’ recession, we can look forward to a continued price war, downsizing and dismal figures to come throughout the profession. 

The profession is not immune from the problems besetting the rest of the economy and we see different firms responding in different ways. Those that will weather the storm best are those who:

1. Have invested (and are investing) in a balanced business with strong expertise and a strong reputation, in counter-cyclical areas.

2. Have taken a cold hard look at what they deliver to clients, and how they deliver it, and have stripped out all the ‘nice to haves’ that are just not important now.

3. Have developed the capability, confidence and strength of their staff to handle client demands to reduce fees. It is impossible for one firm to buck the market, consistent success in getting the best deal adds up to more work at the best price;

4. Have focused real effort, imagination and resources on keeping key clients from defecting.

5. Have avoided the temptation to panic. A desperation to win work to maintain fee income can lead to counter-productive behaviour. Attempting to hurry a client’s decision or any other approach that is not client-centred, consultative and carried out at the client’s pace, is more likely to destroy the chances of success than make the situation better. Obvious perhaps but we are seeing a lot of desperate accountants and other professionals in the market.

6. Are maintaining co-operation between business units and avoiding a blinkered focus on the bottom line, to the detriment of opportunities for the whole firm.

7. Are doing more of the right stuff to keep and win clients. More people at all levels of the firm are investing time in the most productive actions and have the ability to make the most of these efforts.

Accountancy firms are usually late in and late out of a recession. It would appear they are in now, but the above seven steps will enable the best firms to climb their way out of the recession more quickly and less painfully than the rest.

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