General George S. Patton’s Advice to CPAs

General Patton was arguably one of America’s greatest generals. He was loved by his men and hated by his bosses. Supremely confident, politically incorrect – Patton was the ultimate risk taker (“In case of doubt, attack”).

So what advice could such a personality ever offer to CPA’s? How about this:

“If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn’t thinking.”

The nature of our work demands caution, accuracy and oversight. For these reasons, many CPA’s are process driven and risk adverse – it comes with the territory. We value the tried and true approaches when it comes to technology and our audit and tax methodologies. More than most industries we rely on the wisdom of the crowd.

There are a few areas where thinking alike may be hurting our profits.

  1. Excel is the answer – no matter what the question: Excel is a blessing and a curse. We can’t imagine living life without it, but we also use it in ways it was never intended – like workflow and automation.

          Over-reliance on Excel is likely masking deeper technology and process issues in your firm.

  1. Integration is not a priority: Silos of data are a fact of life for many firms. We put up with the redundant data and don’t give much thought to integration.

          Lack of integration increases the need for manual intervention and creates potential accuracy issues.

  1. Little or no strategy around knowledge retention: Most firms possess great institutional knowledge but aren’t properly capturing, sharing and scaling it across the firm. When individuals leave, the knowledge assets leave with them.

          Finding ways to turn that knowledge into a firm asset should be on the radar of every partner.