AICPA’s Mark Koziel: ‘Throw Your Old Business Model Out’

Accounting Firm Innovation


If you were considering starting a firm from scratch, would you use the same business model in place today? Maybe not.

Mark Koziel, the AICPA’s vice president of firm services, in a wide-ranging AAM High webinar on May 1, suggested throwing the old business model out. In fact, he says if firm leaders could do only one thing to become more future-ready, it would be to re-examine the traditional, pyramid-shaped business model ­– with many workers bearing the weight of day-to-day tasks while a few at the top hold the power and expertise.

His comments came during the webinar titled,State of the Profession and Disrupters for the Future,” designed to help firm marketers navigate change and help their firms adapt services to best meet the needs of existing and potential clients in a rapidly changing business environment.

Firm leaders should be asking themselves, “How do we have to be organized to be able to serve our clients better?” The AICPA predicts the model will change. Automation and outsourcing will eliminate some routine tasks, and while the strong base will still be there, the greatest concentration of expertise will be among the managers in the middle with fewer partners at the top.

Client Accounting Services

One example of a new model is client accounting services, Koziel says. Firms are now taking on business intelligence, budgeting, forecasting, developing key performance indicators (KPIs) and other CFO-level financial advisory services, but those firms that are stuck to tradition are still focusing on bookkeeping, payroll, QuickBooks support and other tasks.

“That’s not where client accounting is today and that’s not where client accounting is headed. That is the 30-year-old version of what client accounting services is,” Koziel said.

Technology today can help all-size firms, from top 10 to sole practitioners, through tools like Expensify, Intacct, Xero, and the like, “to be all things to that client.”

Koziel is bullish on the future of client accounting services, saying that the last AICPA management survey of 3,000 firms of all sizes, revealed that 56% of revenues are coming from this area. Additionally, the majority of new small firms offer client accounting as their core service.

He suggested firm leaders examine the business model in place in each department and consider changes by studying the CGMA Business Model framework as a starting point.

“Throw your old business model out. Forget how we were doing it before. If we were to start our business today, what business model would we need to make this happen?”

To hear the entire webinar, in which Koziel discussed a range of disruptors that promise to upend traditional accounting services, access the recording.

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About Christina Camara

Christina Camara is the managing editor of INSIDE Public Accounting, which publishes two award-winning publications: the IPA newsletter and the annual IPA National Benchmarking Report, along with in-depth reports focused on IT, HR, and firm administration.

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