Adding Value Beyond the Balance Sheet

Governance Foundations and Aspirations – Why Focus on Governance?

One of our recent blog posts centered on the topic of attracting, engaging and retaining good people. We drew a comparison between building a firm foundationally strong in its corporate governance structure and “going the distance” by deploying an effective corporate governance structure.

The timing of that blog coincidentally preceded an announcement from Major League Baseball (MLB) that the Chicago White Sox will meet the New York Yankees at the Field of Dreams in Iowa for a regular season game in August 2020.

MLB and Universal Pictures will seek to build an 8,000-seat stadium to host a game in the Iowa cornfield made famous by the 1989 movie. Build it and they will come…from all over…to attend this uniquely special mid-summer event.

From building a foundation to going the distance, this series of blogs will continue to address foundations and aspirations of governance. “Why,” a CPA firm owner might ask, “should I prioritize my time and attention on governance when I can tackle any number of tactics?

Sound corporate (or firm) governance is about envisioning the big picture, being equipped with the right data, and trusting the structure, process and policies of the firm to guide employees’ behavior and make informed and impactful decisions.

The absence of governance can have a profoundly negative impact on employees’ work-life balance. Poor governance causes a lack of trust in firm leadership which, in turn, impairs profitability and achievement of important firmwide initiatives.

The Integrated Growth Advisors (IGA) service team has served CPA firms as external advisors as well as in a variety of roles from staff accountant to partner. We have also worked as marketing and sales professionals in support of our firms’ business development efforts. The prevailing thought throughout every stage of our careers—and especially whenever suffering setbacks—was “there has got to be a better way.”

Spending unplanned weekends and evenings in the office, away from family and friends, fighting fires, often being reactive, rarely being proactive are examples of setbacks that can create unnecessary pressure on the team and therefore places unneeded strain on the firm.

Let’s face it, anyone who has worked in public accounting has struggled with setbacks brought on by any number of reasons. Some reasons are unavoidable. Others can be easily addressed through governance and proactively deploying structure, process, policies and procedures, and clear communication. The IGA team has observed client scenarios—some better, some not so good—that have formed the basis for us to develop a suite of solutions that contribute to the design and implementation of a right size, right shape CPA firm governance structure.

CPAs often operate in crisis mode. The pressure to perform as a competent technician within tight deadlines, as a trusted advisor, an effective administrator and a business owner never lets up. So, why would you want to make things any more difficult on yourself and your firm?

This is why we focus on governance.

About the author

Dan McMahon is the Founder and Managing Partner of Integrated Growth Advisors. He advises clients in a variety of industries—including the public accounting profession—on firm governance, sustainability, generational transferability, and building increased equity valuation. Dan also provides mergers and acquisitions advisory services to business owners including the leaders of CPA firms.

Read Dan’s recent paper on Governance. LINK

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