Developing your trendspotting skills


Surveys show that more and more clients are complaining that their accountants are not proactive or innovative enough – but they can change that, according to futurist Daniel Burrus. Accountants need to stop working out of hindsight, and start working out of foresight. They can do this by breaking the future down into “hard trends” and “soft trends.”

Hard trends are inevitable and unstoppable – the progress of the seasons, the ageing of the Baby Boomers, and the rolling out of new  legislation. Soft trends are those that can be changed for example the number of young graduates taking qualifying exams “and while they can be valuable, they are not as useful or as reliable as hard trends, which can form the basis of whole new service lines or entire businesses.”

Burrus recommended that everyone in the profession start devoting some time to thinking along these lines: “Spend an hour a week unplugging from the present, and plug into your future.”
“It’s about anticipating problems for our own firms and for our clients; anticipating disruptions before they have a chance to disrupt our clients’ businesses; anticipating customer needs before they express them; and anticipating game-changing opportunities before they happen.”
“You can’t do everything,” Burrus said, “so you have to refine it down from all the could-dos and getting rid of the should-dos and coming up with a few must-dos that you can accomplish and that will give you a high payoff. ‘Based on these hard trends, we’ll do this, then this, and then this’ — instead of trying to do everything all at once. This gives you a way to filter it with confidence.”