Flashback to 1988: Comparing Accounting Firm Standards Then and Now

Flashback to 1988: Comparing Accounting Firm Standards Then and Now

Back to the Future – Looking Back over Three Decades

Recently my clients, Tony Frabotta and Rick David of UHY Advisors, forwarded to me the Summer 1988 issue of The PDI Report. Tongue in cheek, they said to me they were surprised to see that there was another Allan Koltin who also did consulting to the accounting profession. (Needless to say, they were poking fun at me based on my 1988 photo versus how I appear today!)

This issue of The PDI Report was not just any issue; it was an issue in which we gathered together the country’s leading consultants (similar to how I participate in The Advisory Board and New Horizons Group today) and aired their views on the profession and industry trends through what was then called the First Annual Consultants Roundtable.

I would urge you to click on the link to see the entire copy of the special report, as I know you will find it as fascinating a read as I did. It should be noted that some of the issues discussed almost three decades ago are still what we talk about today. Those items include industry specialization, quality service, the importance of great leadership and management, value billing, and the significance of having a firm vision, mission and core values.

It’s also interesting to know that back then a mid-sized firm was defined as a firm with $1-$10 million in revenues, whereas today a mid-sized firm probably would start at $10 million and potentially go up to $36 million (the cutoff point for being a Top 100 firm).

That being said, the following are items that have completely changed since that time or weren’t even on the table for discussion:

Women’s initiatives. There was virtually no discussion of women’s initiatives, leadership or increasing the number of women as partners within the profession.

War on talent. If the war on talent existed it sure wasn’t talked about. As someone who was a staff accountant in the ‘80’s, the biggest perk I recall was bagels on Saturday (only during tax season) and the “privilege” of keeping your job! I don’t think anyone could have predicted that firms today would have professional leadership in charge of recruiting, retaining and growing its own talent. In those days it was all about servicing the client (at all costs). In today’s world I think most firms have adopted the famous phrase from Southwest Airlines, which is “happy employees produce happy clients.” Read more on CPA Practice Advisor