Digital company is vital, but human company is critical to the success of your practice

The Human Firm is a best-selling book by Will Farnell, founder and principal of accounting firm Farnell Clarke (he also wrote its predecessor, The Digital Firm). In this excerpt from the book, Will talks about the importance of your practice embracing all things digital and complementing it with a human approach.

Five years after The Digital Firm, I’m here to share the next paradigm shift in our profession.

It’s a shift in attitude from relatively impersonal compliance-based processes to deepening true human relationships, the full circle to the beginning of accounting.

Based on regular communications and providing value-added insights to the customer, it sounds simple, but it’s not.

It leads to profound change, increased competitiveness and a level of future proofing that is vital to the survival of an accounting firm.

Human company

Find out how you can revolutionize the way your practice operates and build deeper client relationships in this best-selling book.

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Still only focusing on compliance. You must evolve now

The writing is on the wall.

Despite Covid pushing companies to work more in the cloud, despite the emergence of digital tax (MTD) for small businesses, and despite the increased provision of automated services by new technology providers, most companies are still making money through compliance.

Even now, few companies are fully digital (and I mean fully cloud-based and with appropriate end-to-end processes).

Facing these critical challenges to compliance practice and accounting services in the coming decade, including digital compliance requirements, artificial intelligence (AI) and clients increasingly taking a digital approach to cloud-based information processing, firms must change to survive.

My accounting firm, Farnell Clarke, thinks and works towards the next evolution of the human firm as the only logical step to stay on the leading edge of an ever-evolving and increasingly competitive environment.

In The Digital Firm, I wrote that “the accounting market landscape will be unrecognizable in another five years” and that doing nothing, despite the choice, will cause firms to go out of business.

I got the timing right, clearly.

But the market is changing.

Companies can continue to bury their heads in the sand and do nothing, knowing that eventually customers will leave for organizations that can provide value-added services or simply take advantage of the reduced cost of compliance.

That so few companies have made the change, even now, is an advantage for early adopters.

As for Farnell Clarke.

The realization of our vision continues. No longer flying teenagers, we still do things a little differently.

Here will help you become a human companion

We hope that this book, Human Companionship, which summarizes what we have learned during our pioneering and sometimes bleeding edge evolution, will help you accelerate your transition to human companionship and maximize its benefits.

Like my previous book, Human Society is based largely on my own experience. if the text is unattributed, assume it’s me.

I’ve teamed up with Sage to produce it, and because I want to give you the best choice, I’ve brought in experts and independent case studies to give a more balanced view.

In doing so, I aim to provide senior managers with a quick overview, more detail if they are interested, and reassurance that what follows is worth communicating to staff.

What you will discover in The Human Firm

The book is in seven sections (eight if you count the appendices, but who is?).

  • Getting started is all about setting the scene.
  • Making it Grow your company at scale.
  • Making a difference is how you differentiate a company and how you can measure progress.
  • “Making Human” is the focus of the book (although the “Human” theme runs throughout the book.
  • Making it work involves practical aspects.
  • Pulling it off is all about context and choice.
  • Getting it aligned is about sustainability, future proofing and of course an exit strategy.

Each section is preceded by a small preview, and each chapter is preceded by a quote that sets the tone for the next chapter.

After that comes the main body of the chapter, and at the end there are takeaways.

Farnell Clark made mistakes so you don’t have to.

That’s what the Will to Learn sections are all about. They share important learning points and a few tips.

I started each chapter with quotes. something I said five years ago and what I say now. This is a shorthand to show how Farnell Clarke’s approach has changed, if indeed it has.

You’ll also find quotes from conversations with interesting people in each chapter, covering things as diverse as case studies, opinions, and future predictions.

They are very revealing and provide different perspectives and take on what I discuss in the book.

You can find more of these non-Will perspectives in the app, and the conversations themselves are available online.

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