Lessons For CPAs From Bill Belichick

“I’ll take responsibility for all the plays that are called. I have the final say on it. If I don’t want to run the play, then I can call it off – that’s my right as a head coach. Any of the bad ones, you can blame me for because ultimately I could change them if I wanted to.”

– Bill Belichick, Head Coach, New England Patriots

Bill Belichick has seven Super Bowl rings. He won two as defensive coordinator of the New York Giants and picked up his fifth as a head coach in January. He has more rings than anyone else and is certainly in the conversation as the greatest head football coach of all time.

In this era of specialization, where there are position coaches everywhere, Bill Belichick still calls his own plays. It’s his game plan and his plays. The Patriots have had great offensive coordinators – Bill O’Brien and Josh McDaniels to name two – and Belichick still calls the plays. The Patriots have arguably the best quarterback in the history of the game, Tom Brady, and Belichick still calls the plays.

If you are a football fan this is probably no surprise. Even though there are now “Offensive Head Coaches”, it’s hard to conceive of Belichick giving up control or letting someone else call the plays.

What about at your firm? Who’s calling the plays? Most of us think we are the ones in control – the ones calling the plays. The hard truth is for many firms this is not the case.

So who’s running the plays? Your technology vendors.

Most of the available technology for CPAs today forces you into the vendor’s notion of how you should execute the process. They dictate to you how your firm should deliver your services. They are the ones calling the plays. Your plays.

Here are a few examples:

  • Boilerplate checklists
  • Linear workflow
  • Restrictive audit and tax processes

Some firms can get by with an outside play caller. For the firms feeling the pressure from clients to deliver more value, the answer is to call your own plays. Make your client experience more relevant to each client. Run the audit or tax process that showcases the strengths of your firm.

That’s how you win in our game.