Vision: Are You Clear?

By Gary Thomson, Andersen Alumnus and currently a Managing Director at Thomson Consulting

In the last week, three firms have called about private equity offers or initial interest. I am often asked to consider how this could fit into the firm’s strategy. When your firm is presented with the opportunity for growth through M&A or Private Equity, the real question is how it fits into your firm's vision.

Firm strategy and firm vision must complement each other a lot. You need to have clarity on why you want to go somewhere or even where you want to go.

When I work with accounting firms on these types of opportunities and partner retreats, I start by asking the managing partner, are your partners clear on your firm's strategy? They will typically say yes, for the most part. My next question is, are your partners clear on your firm's vision? And I often hear, "Well, it's on our website."

But that isn't what I am asking; I want to know if partners can tell me what the firm's vision is and why. The reality is very few can do that.

Clarity surrounding your vision.

Your entire team – from your leaders, partners, staff, and administrative teams to the C-suite – is responsible for articulating and expressing your firm's vision. This doesn't mean changes cannot be made; life happens!

The point is your decisions, and strategy should be based on a shared outlook to ensure a cohesive goal.

Why does having a clear vision truly matter? I'll tell you.

  • It brings clarity to what you are doing.
  • It allows you to create aspirations for the future.
  • Enable entrepreneurs to act.
  • It empowers people to dream big, present their ideas, and run hard once they have the "blessing" to do so.

Visioning a CPA firm requires you to grasp what's happening around you – in the industry and your firm and have a desire for a different future.

Visioning is about creating the future. There is no reason to embark on a planning process if there is no desire that the future will be any different than today.

What makes a great vision?

Exceptional organizations have an exciting, clear, and simple vision. It should honor and reinforce the organization's core purpose, but it also creates a picture of where the organization is heading and what it aspires to accomplish in the future. It's aspirational, almost dreamlike, simple, and compelling. It's the kind of statement that should make people want to be a part of your organization to pursue that vision. It should be bold and spark an emotional response. Most importantly, your vision must be CLEAR. If your partners, leaders, and staff members find it confusing, they won't be able to follow it and help drive the firm to its goals.

How can I help you bring clarity to your firm's vision and help answer these Private Equity calls and opportunities for M&A?

Feel free to reach out to me