Where are you in your Career?

Are you ready to Grow or Go?

I would like to discuss briefly about CAREER.

Think for a moment – where are you in your career? For most people in professional services, your business is your career, or the business of your employer frames your career. It is usually difficult to separate these so we talk tend to talk about them as interlinked. You are the business and the business is you.

At Covisory we like to think of the three phases of a career in professional services as:
• Build,
• Buy or sell and
• Harvest.

In our experience with clients this is much the same for law, accounting, consulting and so on and they are not always in sequence. I will come back to this theme in a moment, but firstly let’s think about planning horizons. We are 20% of the way through this century. Let’s look back to the future. In the early 1980s there were 8 major accounting firms and a myriad of small ones. In fact, the Prime Minister at that time was also an accountant. There were some career options for accounting and the top personal tax rate at that time was 66 cents in the dollar. The calculator was king.

So what has happened since then? Four big forces are driving change:

  • Industry consolidation – the big eight have become big 4, and in this process Arthur Anderson was obliterated and many small firms have disappeared. Accounting along with all professional services has become recognised as a business, with different business models being applied By way of example PwC have achieved scale with annual revenues here in Australia of some $2.6b
  • Technology continues to disrupt the way you work and also the future of work for your clients and you and your people. Technology has increasingly become a business in itself. Xero was founded in Wellington in 2006. Its market capitalisation today is over $12billion
  • Corporate roles have changed and expanded. The CFO has become elevated and seen as not just a control function within companies, but an integral part of management driving resource allocation. Corporates are poaching talent from CA firms.
  • Regulation will continue to impact on the profession.


So, the question I wanted you to ask of yourself is where am I in my life, my business and my career. Again in professional services, you and your professional colleagues are the business, so these questions are inter-related.

Let’s pick a date: 30 June 2025 it’s a Monday – where do you want to be?

Some questions which will help you focus on this are:

  •  Do you share the same values or philosophy of the people you work with
    • Work and life balance
    • Type or work/type of client
    • Income
  •  Does the practice have a plan?
    • If it does are you committed to it
    • Is it owned by your colleagues
    • Do you manage performance?
  •  Do you have the right mix of people around you?
    • Kotler talked to Finders, Minders, grinders and binders
    • Is the firm set up for the future

and the test - is this where you want to be and is it your plan?

At Covisory we think it’s helpful to use a farming analogy when thinking about the interlinkage between the firm and your career. I talked before of three phases

  • Build,
  • Buy or sell and
  • Harvest.


The Build stage – what sort of farm are you developing? 20 years ago, the decision was often dairy or beef farm. Where is the growth? How are you laying the foundations for the future? Is the firm expanding? Is the expansion profitable? Is the growth appealing to you? Also are you also pruning the business to grow?

Buy or sell – We like to look at this from the perspective of where value is and how it can be realised. The traditional view of sale is like selling the farm to retire but there are now more options to consider. For example, the changing aspirations in Gen X and Gen Y mean that some law firms find salaried partnerships have a higher uptake than equity partnerships – they don’t want to buy in and may not stay.

Looking objectively at some parts of a practice, some business could be sold to fund growth or you may have idling capacity that organic growth will not easily fill.

Working out your business model and how you maximise value is something we can assist you with to then determine a sales strategy and timeframe that works best for you.

Harvest – free cash flow that you can choose where you invest or spend. Key life cycle events here relate to family, schools as well as pre and post-retirement. Taking cash out of the business should enable you to diversify you interests.


Many of us have seen clients who have failed to plan. I don’t intend to talk about that. If planning doesn’t come naturally to you, talk to us and we can provide some structure.

At Covisory we work with both individuals and firms.

For individuals we offer a confidential service to help you assess where you are in your career, clarify your goals and determine where your talents are best applied and broadly how to get there.

For firms, we do the same thing but at a business level. This includes:

  • Practice health checks
  • Benchmarking
  • Strategy, people and structure
  • Action plan
  • Business growth
  • Profitability
  • Succession and development plans for staff
  • And/or recommended sales strategy
  • Practice valuations
  • Business sale
  • Internal dispute arbitration service.


We hope that this has given you some perspective on your career and future options for your business. We are happy to talk further if you need some help.

Prepared by Brian Freestone - our Covisory Sydney connection