Compliance and technology once were “necessary evils” in the practice of law, accounting, consulting and other professional services. As was the case with any necessary evil, the institutional view of management of compliance and technology was that of a utility – “lights on, costs low.” As long as core services were being delivered at a low base cost with minimal annual increases, firms generally considered compliance and technology to be successful.
Today, compliance and technology are instrumental to virtually every professional services practice and every aspect of firm operations. This transformation of compliance and technology within the industry began in earnest within the last five to seven years, and the role of both compliance and technology expands constantly. This change, which many industries began to experience as much of twenty years ago, has fundamentally changed the ways in which successful professional services companies govern, manage and fund their compliance and technology functions.
Pathfinder Advisors’ focus when serving professional services firms is to enhance profitability and return on equity by:
- Enabling employee billable hours and yield by finding ways to automate administrative, compliance and operations processes that detract from employee availability and utilization
- Reducing costs of compliance, operations and technology to reduce operating expense and working capital requirements
- Leverage compliance and technology to enhance competitive advantage, shorten sales cycles and increase revenue-generation opportunities
Pathfinder Advisors’ approach to serving professional services firms always begins with a rapid assessment consisting of:
- Interviews with managing partners or executives to understand the firm’s strategy, challenges and priorities for remediation or growth
- Interviews with division, department, section and practice leaders (including para-professionals and administrative staff) to identify immediate opportunities to leverage existing compliance, operations and technology capabilities to improve business performance
- Interviews or surveys of compliance, operations and technology staff to understand current governance, processes, capabilities and staffing
- Assessment of compliance practices and technology infrastructure and organization against leading practices to identify immediate opportunities to address business issues and improve performance
- Development of an action plan designed to pursue and realize broader business performance opportunities over a six to nine month period for review and approval by firm management.
- Draft charters and plans for individual projects defined in the action plan
- Draft future-state compliance, operations and technology organization structures and staffing models, develop draft job descriptions and identify likely personnel costs for review and approval by firm management
- Identify, select and source specialty service providers to help implement the action plan where required
- Provide independent leadership and oversight during the implementation of the action plan
- Present periodic updates and an after-action report to firm management detailing progress and results of action plan implementation
- After implementation, provide independent oversight and objective post-implementation assessments to determine whether target objectives of the actionm plan have been (or are likely to be) met
- On behalf of the executive committee of a regional law firm assessed current business needs, operations and technology capabilities to identify opportunities to improve business performance. Developed an action plan to effect significant technology remediation, organization structure changes and governance changes over a six month period intended to reduce costs and improve services to attorneys and para-professionals.
- Triaged current technology capabilities on behalf of an incoming CEO at an educational services company to identify risks and opportunities associated with the implementation of a new business strategy. Developed a nine-month roadmap of critical technology improvements to support existing market share and facilitate entry into the emerging market for common core standards testing technologies marketplace.
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