The Game Changed—You Need an Elite Quarterback to Win

By: Joseph A. Tarasco, Accountants Advisory Group LLC

Going back through the history of prior Super Bowl winners, the old axiom for a winning formula was a combination of a strong running offense with a dominating defense. However, the rules and the game have changed and now favor teams with talented (elite) quarterbacks who are also very good leaders. That, combined with a good offensive line, is the new winning formula.

Similarly, the game and rules have changed in the accounting profession. In order to have sustained increases in growth and profitability, along with developing succession plans, firms need an “elite” leader with an “offensive line” of very talented partners.

Firms can no longer play defense—they must play great offense to win since competition for quality clients and staff is fierce, coupled with pressures from consolidation and baby boomer succession issues. Just as there are very few elite quarterbacks in the NFL, there are few elite leaders in public accounting, which is one of the reasons why only approximately 2% of multi-partner firms in the country exceed $15 million in revenues. The following are some similarities between elite quarterbacks and elite partners:

  • Elite quarterbacks are not born elite, but grow into this status over time, gaining the trust of their team members, just as successful leaders of CPA firms evolve into this role over a number of years. It takes time to attain elite partner status and the partners have to be willing to be managed and trust the leader.
  • Elite quarterbacks are respected leaders not because of their title, but because of their performance on the field and their ability to instill confidence in their team and to motivate them.

Similarly, CPA firm elite leaders are respected for their accomplishments in outstanding performance in client service, new business development, teamwork, respect for others, managing difficult change, and in establishing confidence in their other partners to exceed expectations.

  • Elite quarterbacks are masters of their playbooks and study game films of them in great detail in order to correctly execute the offensive plays during the game. Elite leaders in CPA firms study their competition and the marketplace in order to provide the types of services that are in demand and to gain a competitive advantage over their competitors for clients and quality staff.
  • Elite quarterbacks know when to change the play at the line of scrimmage very quickly when an unexpected defensive formation is presented. Elite leaders change their firm’s plans when the marketplace, competition, and events change by making timely and sometimes tough decisions to overcome obstacles to success.
  • Elite quarterbacks are great clock/time mangers and manage their game plan accordingly. Elite CPA firm leaders manage strategic plans with a sense of urgency and are not complacent about leading their firms to the next level of success.
  • Elite quarterbacks can hide shortcomings of other players by making adjustments at the line of scrimmage, throwing an accurate ball, etc., but they can’t do it all themselves. Elite quarterbacks understand that football is a team game. Elite CPA partners are able to sustain their success and the firm’s success by serving as enablers of talent, culture, teamwork, and positive results.

Whether it’s an elite quarterback or CPA firm leader, the common element is that they know how to establish the conditions necessary for their teams to succeed and how to bring their professionals together to achieve shared goals and objectives. They play the game to win, not to just play it, and inspire others to do the same. Having elite partners lead the firm with a winning game plan that is consistently executed by all the firm’s team members will take the firm to the next level of success.

Accountants Advisory Group is a strategic consulting firm that incorporates state of the art practice management, marketing and human capital strategies to assist CPA firms in achieving long-term success and profitability. To learn more about Accountants Advisory Group and RedZone Practice Management, please contact Joseph A. Tarasco at 845-265-9046 or