IPA Vendor Spotlight: Thomson Consulting

Navigating the Top Disruptions in the Accounting Profession with Gary Thomson, CPA

Company: Thomson Consulting

Name: Gary Thomson

Title: Managing Partner and Founder


Gary Thomson

What are the top disruptions impacting the accounting profession today?

It seems like a cliché to say “talent,” but the profession is currently facing significant talent challenges. While this issue is not unique to our field, we are feeling its intensity more than ever. The comprehensive work of the National Pipeline Advisory Group has made it clear we need to look at creative solutions to this challenge. While we can point to a number of reasons, I want us to look for solutions. How have we developed a more distinctive approach to attracting and retaining talent?

We must value what talent values: A great mission, vision and values. A culture that represents the things they care for. Accountability that supports advancement. Flexibility. World-class technology and cutting-edge tools to enhance their work. Good coaches, sponsors and mentors. Meaningful, engaging work.

With a very limited talent pool, we must find ways to support our staff and simplify their tasks. Most professionals prefer to avoid repetitive, non-valued tasks, and automation can help by taking on these duties. This shift allows our people to focus on more work that benefits their careers and our clients.

The need for these presents an opportunity for firm leaders to evaluate and bring clarity to vision, strategic priorities, the resources needed to accomplish those priorities, and clarity as to how we generate the necessary resources.

How have these disruptions affected the way we look at the Intersection of Performance and Culture today?

Each firm must uniquely evaluate the balance between performance expectations and our cultural imperatives. What I see is firms almost fearful of setting and holding people accountable to reasonable performance standards. I understand the dilemma. We can’t afford to lose people. But we can’t afford to ignore the business elements of successful firms. We must focus on a culture that embraces performance the same way we embrace other areas for which we identify culture. Understanding how we can support our people and what we can expect from them is a cornerstone of determining the strategic priorities and resources mentioned above.

When we think of capital resources, what are firms exploring?

Most firms first think traditionally: We can get it from ourselves…our owners. Whether it is reserving earnings or increasing required capital, firms will “bet on themselves.” Owners in CPA firms already have money at risk, so putting more at risk is a decision that must be deliberatively evaluated.

Hesitantly, but often, firms look at traditional sources such as banks. This takes the shape of short-term, long-term or acquisitive debt. This is a typical leverage situation we often explore with our clients.

Resources can come from mergers. This historical method is still a viable option. ESOPs have been around the industry for some time, but two recent transactions have brought them more prominently to our attention.

More recently, we’ve been presented with alternative sources, such as private equity. The PE dynamic is one of the most discussed aspects of capital solutions.

How does Thomson Consulting help firms navigate these disruptions?

Thomson Consulting offers a structured, independent and strategic approach to helping firms effectively address these challenges that impact the profession. With 39 years of experience, we start by clarifying your firm’s vision. Then, we determine the strategic priorities that support that vision and the cost of those priorities and ask the fundamental question, “From where do we get the resources?”

The last question involves a comprehensive review of the options, testing each as to how they help meet the need while supporting our mission, vision, values and culture. The answer to this question drives a more detailed exploration of the potential resource providers.

This process looks different for every firm. Sometimes, it can be a two-hour conversation with firm leaders; other times, it’s a two-day engagement or more. What it boils down to is what your firm needs. Thomson Consulting will help navigate you through the process.

How many firms have you helped with this process?

Dozens is the simple answer. From Top 100 firms to G400 firms and smaller future-focused firms, we have been privileged to navigate this process with some fantastic firms.

If you need an experienced thought leader to help you navigate the future, Thomson Consulting can help. Whether through brief consultations or extended engagements, we tailor our approach to meet your firm’s unique needs. Let us help you achieve your vision and stay ahead in this evolving landscape.


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