What to Consider About You and Your Firm

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In the accounting profession, we hear a lot about change these days, constantly communicated to using the terms “fast-paced,” “ever-changing,” and “hyper-connected.” But when we scrape the marketing speak away from our outlooks, has much actually changed in your firm?

Ask yourselves: Are you still keeping most of your clients? Have you still got a recurring fee base that supports your lifestyle and the monthly payroll? Are you still worried about recruitment, retention, capacity, pricing, etc.?

It’s been like this for a while, hasn’t it? So, one thing I hear a lot of when speaking to small and medium-sized firms is, “but what about me and my firm?”

What they mean by this is, where are the practical solutions to the ongoing challenges of growing their practices and not just what’s the system they are selling us today.

Let’s take “the cloud” for example. We know that the move to the cloud is an inevitability for us eventually, if not now. But for many firms, the speed, appetite for, and nature of the adoption is varied across the country. 

As a percentage of small to medium-sized accounting firms across the United States, there are relatively few firms that can demonstrate a tangible transition of their compliance work being automated and the time saved having resulted in high-value, consultancy-style engagements.

The harsh reality is that most of us have just dropped our prices and are doing the same for less, with a little bit of new technology added in.

For many of us, progress is slow, if there’s any progress to be reported at all. Many packages, resources, and systems have been developed to speed up this rate of change and accelerate “cloud adoption.”

Few products, if any, however, seem to cater for those dealing with the peaks and troughs of an owner-managed practice and can’t oversee dramatic, radical change even if they were convinced that this is what was needed in the firm. 

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of support for those of us who:

  • Advocate smaller, incremental changes rather than wholesale, dramatic ones.
  • Accept that “core” traditional services (bookkeeping, tax compliance, etc.) are relevant to the modern practice (at least in the short to midterm)
  • Solve “real world” problems surrounding perpetual issues, such as capacity, recruitment, retention, etc.
  • See technology as a tool in the toolbox rather than the cure for all issues.

If there’s a common thread between myself and AccountingWEB, it is that we have focused on providing insight and confidence to the “transitional accountant” in the United States – and that includes both the progressive as well as the aspirational firms. As part of that commitment, we’ve joined forces to produce a three-month “Pathfinder” program for you of education, support, and mentorship designed to address those “real world” issues with the aim of:

  • Enabling firms to understand and articulate the changes impacting their firms.
  • Allowing them to break down those challenges into manageable segments.
  • Defining an appropriately paced practice development strategy.

This will be delivered by myself in a series of six, one-hour webinar sessions each accompanied by follow-up and easily manageable “homework” to be actioned in time for the next session.

Our first session asks the question:

Have I Got the Capacity to Grow My Fee Base?

In this session, we’ll explore one of the greatest fears amongst practitioners, that of, can I service work? Nothing gets in the way of practice growth like the “what if I fail” scarcity mindset. It needn’t be so for any of us, and my job is to show you the “why” and the “how” we overcome this valid concern in practical, actionable ways.

As the series progresses, we’ll also look at technology, existing client relationships, winning new fees, forecasting our income with accuracy, pricing, recruitment, talent retention, and much more.

Each session will have a “progress PDF” for you to complete in-between sessions and complimentary resources for you to adopt and implement at your own pace.

The world might well be changing fast, but all we need to focus on is succeeding fast. Join me on this series and I’ll show you the proven ways of doing so for firms of our size. Together, we will identify YOUR true path to progress in September!

Entry to the 2017 Practice Pathfinder program is now closed.  Martin will be appearing at QB Connect in San Jose for a final special edition session.  We will be reopening the program for 2018 enrollment in the spring.


About Martin Bissett


Martin Bissett formed the Upward Spiral Partnership Ltd (USP) in 2012, specialising in Grade A Fee Growth and Preparing Senior Managers for Partnership within the Accounting Profession.

Clients for USP include:

Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA)

Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW)

Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)

The Added Value Network (AVN)

The 2020 Group

BKR International

The IAPA Group

Russell Bedford International

The Alliott Group

Enterprise Worldwide

Chartered Accountants Ireland

MHA Monahans

CPA Trendlines

Morison KSi

Receipt Bank

Smart Vault

Additionally, Bissett has launched a speaking career that has taken him to 16 countries in the first 6 years of its existence.

Bissett has held a position as Board advisor at the Raft Foundation and has been a visiting lecturer at Bolton College, Accrington Rossendale College, Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School, Southport College, The Peter Jones Enterprise Academy North Manchester, The North West Society of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales.

Bissett has received the Powered Person of the year award from Business Link, the youngest ever winner of the award.

The Institute of Sales and Marketing Management has recognized him as a Fellow of The Institute.

The Business for Good Organisation has recognised him as a finalist for Global Impact Maker of the year.

Intellectual Property

Bissett currently has 4 recognised and registered trademarks which he uses in his consulting work. Amongst these are his A.C.C.O.U.N.T.S.(tm) mnemonic, employed in the accurate forecasting of proactive fee growth within an accounting firm.


As of May 2018, Bissett has published 11 books on practice development in the Accounting Profession. The most of any author.

His book ‘Passport to Partnership’ appeared on the curricula of the AAT Level 3 qualification at Bolton College.

He has the best-selling book in North America (Passport to Partnership) on leadership development in the accounting profession.





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