The debate continues as to whether accountants ought to be generalists or specialists.
I recently met up with Hugh Duffy of Build Your Firm, who thinks firms should be specialists. Hugh’s company works with small accounting firms on all kinds of practice development and practice management issues, and also presents seminars around the country on this topic.
Hugh also recently wrote an article on this topic that I have on my articles page. Here is an excerpt from it:
Although this may seem obvious, many accounting firms can’t see the forest through the trees to realize they should focus on what they know instead of what they don’t know. It is this intellectual capital in one or two specific areas that enables a firm to develop a niche practice.
For example, if your firm’s partners and staff have experience in international accounting engagements – either learned on the job or when they came from previous employers – the firm will probably want to develop a niche in international tax or accounting. The same thinking holds for an industry niche. We’ve mentioned healthcare, but just think of all the SIC codes and corresponding industries. The playing field is wide open, especially if you or your staff have experience in a specific area.
Build Your Firm also has a page that shows several websites it has created for firms – all with the specialist-type firm in mind.
I like Hugh’s approach and agree with him on the “specialist” topic. Put yourself in the client’s shoes. If you worked in a specific type of industry, wouldn’t you rather go with a firm that has intellectual capital in that niche?
I know I would.