Career Highlights of Michael Stewart, CEO of Timeless Practice

My career started as a consultant to accounting firms nationally. As the business grew I was moved around the world to train consulting teams on how to improve business performance. Within 4 years I had move 30+ times to 6 cities in 3 countries. The sheer volume of clients and exposure to business problems and business models meant I experienced more in those few years than most would in a lifetime.
Throughout my time as a consultant, and then as a Partner of an Accounting firm one theme continually appeared – professions as a whole just weren’t doing enough for the small business owner – too expensive, too confusing, too much jargon. And business owners themselves didn’t have access to streamlined, targeted information that would help them make better decisions.
So my entire focus has been to provide solutions to those problems – for both business owners and accounting firms in particular.
Education is key in professional industries. The smarter our clients the more likely they are to use our premium services. The more likely they are to challenge our work. The more likely they are to make us better as both people and professionals. And therefore, the more likely we are to succeed.

A little more history …

After witnessing the extraordinary increase in profit and business value from clients who followed my advice, I decided to go into the accounting industry myself – consulting was fun but the value of the asset was not certain.
In 2006 I joined a suburban accounting firm in Brisbane, Australia. The founding Partner had a well-defined vision, the business was growing, a second partner had joined to allow for growth, financial planning represented 10% of revenue and it was my role to introduce business advisory services. The firm was progressive in all the right ways.
However we were plagued by one persistent problem. We couldn’t attract the team members we needed.

Larger firms had bigger budgets, better locations and more appeal.  Competition from local firms was not particularly strong, however the available talent pool was very limited. How could we create an offering that would attract people over and beyond other, more tangible benefits?

My business mentors had taught me if you could solve someone’s key frustration …

that could give you some form of differentiation; perhaps even competitive advantage. And when you had those, the monetary side of the equation was far less important in the decision-making process.

So I identified and addressed the number one frustration of employees in professional firms – timesheets.  I built a new model that focused on customers and prices, replaced timesheets with a new financial model, then aligned every area of the practice with that model. We still paid market rates – but we finally had capacity.

As it turns out, that frustration was also one of our clients major frustrations.  We introduced a fixed price for all work for all clients, one by one as they brought in their work. We didn’t lose a client.  Not all clients were on annual agreements – only about 30%. But every other job had a fixed price, engagement letter, and direct debit form for payment. No exceptions.

The headline for our next job advertisement read ‘No Timesheets‘. The content of the ad was mostly populated with our vision for the future, with little detail on the role itself other than a position title and salary range. We received a record number of applications, which was not that many, but previously we received few or none.

From that day forward we hired every team member we wished to hire. A 100% strike rate for the next 6 years.  Every candidate asked the exact same question within the first five minutes of the interview commencing: “How did you do that?” The change created excitement, which lead to momentum, that drove acceptance of more change, which resulted in growth.

The impact on our clients, lives, scheduling, cash flow, profitability, confidence, happiness, you name it – every single area of the business improved when we replaced timesheets. The amount of time that was freed up was extraordinary. While productivity in the traditional sense would have improved, it was the significantly less administration and reporting that created focus and capacity – and plenty of each.

Replacing timesheets and updating your business model is easier than you think – provided you follow a framework that has been proven. You’ve been evolving your model ever since you went into business. Otherwise you wouldn’t be using cloud based anything. This is just another update.

By this time next year your existing firm could be timeless.

Your journey to a timeless career can begin right now, by contacting me to arrange your initial consultation.

Michael Stewart

 

Career Highlights


Managing Partner

Integrity Wealth

“Truly firm of the future 2.0″
Ron Baker, Verasage Institute
  • Fixed pricing introduced 2007
  • Replaced timesheets Accounting division 2007
  • Replaced timesheets Financial Planning 2008
  • Replaced timesheets Bookkeeping 2010
  • Lockup (WIP + Debtor days) reduced to 45 from 120+
  • Direct debit only payment method accepted from 2008 (95% of clients accepted direct debit; the other 5% paid upfront)
  • Workflow – always booked to capacity 3 months in advance with signed engagement letters and direct debit forms from each client
  • Corporate model replaced Partnership
  • Flexible working conditions including working from home and 5 weeks annual leave
  • Profit increase 300%
  • Revenue increase 100%
  • Client numbers reduced by 25%
  • Administration reduced by 30%
  • Diversified into 5 other services

Chief Executive Officer

DLA Partners

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  • Double-digit top and bottom line growth

Chief Executive Officer

Irish Bentley Lawyers

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  • Double-digit top and bottom line growth
  • Successful beta-trial of replacing timesheets methodology
  • Implementation of fixed pricing and direct debit

Content Manager /
Start-Up Team

Businessfitness

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  • Creators of the How Now Document Management system and How Now Portal
  • Creators of Reportance
  • Good Bad and Ugly Benchmarking Reports, Polls & Surveys
  • Now in use by over 450 firms across Australia

Senior Client Manager

Principa

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  • Owned and run by Ric Payne, Principa relocated Michael to the USA to establish their northern American Division. After a successful launch, Michael returned to Australia to support Principa members back at home

Panel Member

Firm of the Future Forums

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  • Presented by Ron Baker of the Verasage institute, Michael was a panel member alongside ‘timeless’ professionals from other industries

International Applications and Content

RAS (Results Accountants’ Systems)

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  • Working for Paul Dunn and Ric Payne, and based out of Pleasanton California, Michael was responsible for the development of software, practice management and business advisory services for accounting firms internationally