Accounting Firm Management and Wine MakingI know this sounds a little farfetched but let me explain!

It was in my preparation for a workshop I was running that I found myself thinking that accounting firm management is indeed just like wine making!

I’ve always viewed wine making as a mix of science and art. Or science and creativity if you will. You can make really good wine with just the science and the science can be learned. The most memorable wines however have that touch of art. Think for example a Henschke Hill of Grace or a Grosset Riesling.

Now I don’t know a lot about wine making, although I think it is fascinating, but I do know a lot about accounting firm management. Just like wine making you can get a really good result by applying the science. The art is nice but it is not absolutely essential.

So what is the science of accounting firm management?

The Oxford dictionary online quotes the definition of science as

“The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.”


If we substitute a few words I think we get that accounting firm management is the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the structure and behaviour of accounting firms through observation and experiment.

In other words:

  • we observe accounting firms and notice what works and doesn’t work
  • We break things down into different elements and systems
  • We experiment with different elements, systems and ideas and observe the results
  • And we think about it – we don’t just blindly do stuff – we let the evidence guide us
  • We do more of what the evidence shows us works and stop doing what doesn’t

The evidence is pretty clear on many elements of accounting firm management. For example:

  • If you attract and look after good people, they will deliver good results for you
  • If you attract and look after clients, they will deliver good results for you

Sure there are many elements to accounting firm success but at its most basic level it is about finding and looking after the clients and finding and looking after your team. Clients and team – the two key elements. I sometimes worry that we can tend to over complicate running a great firm when the fundamentals are in the main relatively simple.

How would you rate yourself in these interesting times in terms of looking after your team and your clients? Many small business owners are speaking highly of their accountants at present for the dedication they have shown to helping each client get the maximum benefit they are entitled to from the government stimulus packages. I am also hearing many employees in accounting firms expressing gratitude for the way their firm has dealt with them during the current pandemic.

Your team and your clients are like the grapes in wine making. You source the best quality you can and then cultivate them and care for them. The result is season after season of great output and joy. I’ll drink to that!