A collaboration with more than twenty accounting firms and Shift*Base Research to explore the contours of accounting firms of the future.
The economic contribution of professional services firms – from international corporate networks to local accounting practices – is often invisible to the general public but they are in fact deeply rooted in economic and social needs. Their role in business and society is shaped by their historical legacy and their aspiration as a profession to serve the public interest. Like other professions, accounting firms face many challenges in this time of unprecedented change, and there are a variety of views about the future of the firms and their socio-economic role.
Some changes, such as digital transformation, are already on the agenda of many firms, but it is not obvious exactly what these mean, nor are these changes the only ones we can expect to see. Our project aims to encourage conversations within the profession about how it is changing and what effects this might have on individual firms of the future.
Most discussions of the future tend to come from a specific angle that skews predictions towards either new technology, social change or the changing culture of work, for example. Instead, this project seeks to build up a multi-dimensional model of the internal factors changing the nature of the firm, as well as the wider societal factors and changing expectations of the workforce. We hope this can advance understanding of the issues facing future firms, and allow professionals and firms to focus on those they think are most relevant to their work, but without attempting to predict a single picture of the firm of the future.
The Future Firms Framework aims to facilitate a systemic discussion about the interrelatedness of key dimensions of the modern firm. We believe it can help firms to better visualise the complex relationship between dimensions, and through this to enable people to explore new opportunities and to plan and design ideas for innovation.
We invite you to explore the framework and engage your firm in building a multidimensional narrative about the future.
How can we begin to think about the shape, nature and role of the future firm when there are so many elements to consider: organisational design, ways of working, new technology, data and changing customer expectations? This report summarises the key findings from our research and offers resources that could help firms to create their own strategy.