Join The CountPlus Network
By joining CountPlus, you will become part of an expanding national network of financial planning and accounting firms. At CountPlus, we believe that constant growth through smarter equity partnerships is an important key to success, which is why we're always looking for new opportunities to collaborate with high-quality, success-oriented accounting and advice professional partners that will form a core part of our business.
The CountPlus “Owner-Driver Partner Model”
To compete and succeed, firms need to step up and out of the traditional ownership model and move to one where the principals own and drive their firms without loss of identity, while partnering with CountPlus using agreed team rules, shared processes and controls, improved funding and economies of scale.
This ‘best of both worlds’ approach, will ground firms with a strong notion of perpetuity and custodianship, as well as a renewed strength to overcome the myriad challenges that operating and growing a successful practice brings.
We call this the “Owner-Driver, Partner” Model and its rollout sets us apart from industry aggregators and consolidators.
This model, successfully deployed, will allow us to:
- drive organic growth through the acquisition of new equity interests under owner-driver/partner firms via existing firms
- drive additional growth through an additional portfolio of member firms which matches the CountPlus Family Photograph
- reduce acquisition risks though mechanisms around earn-outs and retention for key management, and
- underpin growth and reduce practice management headaches with common IT systems, best practice HR practices, risk management processes and compliance procedures.
The Owner-Driver, Partner Model will have the following characteristics:
inspire initiative and loyalty, by allowing firms to preserve their local brand and unique identity
- build confidence by offering strategic support, funding for growth and investment, scalable benefits and succession planning, and
- improve performance at the individual level while leveraging the benefits of a national group through its business model, facilitating collective sharing of experience, expertise and best practice.
The model will:
- regulate the relationship via shareholder agreements, employment agreements and participation agreements between member firms and CountPlus
- allow owners to retain day to day management, with CountPlus providing strategic support as well as access to IT systems, best practice HR programs, improved compliance, stronger risk management
- provide a source of equity and debt finance for acquisitions and growth, and
- provide the flexibility to change the ownership structure of any firm if required.
A New Value Proposition
Together with a more powerful ownership model, comes a more compelling value proposition. Our new statement of the tangible business results that current and future member firms can expect from CountPlus is as follows:
CountPlus – Your Success Partner
CountPlus partners with selective accounting and advice firms to amplify their success without loss of ownership, drive, identity or control. This partnership allows firms to better meet current and future challenges by providing strategic support, funding capital, scalable benefits and succession planning, as well as access to a professional community who want to protect and grow what they have worked so hard to build.
This value proposition will become the cornerstone of current and future marketing messages, guiding our selection and development of future features and benefits for our firms. It will also align our stakeholders – our shareholders, member firms, clients and people - about why CountPlus exists.
Which Firms Do We Want To Attract?
We remain focused on finding the right firms and seek only quality partnerships with successful firms who fit The CountPlus Family Photograph. This photograph is framed literally through a lens by which we focus on firms, and filter them based on their sustainability and values, to make informed decisions about investing, growing or exiting firms.
At a high level, the right fit means evidence of sixteen attributes:
- A client value proposition
- Leadership with strong bench strength
- Strong governance structure with an Independent Chair
- Strong financial controls and management reporting in place
- An inquiring mind regarding innovation and willingness to embrace new technology and processes
- Accountability and Incentive framework
- A strategic and business/operating plans in place and milestones measured against balanced scorecard
- A strong focus on culture, people and values
- Debt management and the financial health of the underlying business and principals
- Growth strategies in place with a growth mindset
- Succession planning
- Risk management framework in place
- A quality culture and framework in place with quality assurance controls and willingness to participate in ongoing peer review process
- Willingness to share best practice and be part of the CountPlus community
- A strong engagement with their respective professional community, and
- A world view that incorporates philanthropy and/or pro-bono activities.
Why Will Firms Consider CountPlus?
Through our strategy of bringing together progressive practices and amplifying their ability to serve their clients more successfully, firms who join CountPlus benefit from a stronger value proposition. They will:
Gain a partner, not an owner.
We recognise that our target firms have worked hard to build successful practices. They have enjoyed independence, direction and control but recognise they need strategic support to stay in good shape now and into the future. In short, they don’t want a new owner, they want a new partner; one who won’t rebrand, strip down the business or centralise operations. They want a partner for success.
Successful partnerships have agreed team rules, processes and governance, aligned interests and a wealth of experience to share … so there is much to gain and much to learn.
As part of CountPlus there is a sense of perpetuity, with a partnership approach that allows for long-term, sustainable and ‘client first’ decision making.
Stay small, play big.
There is significant opportunity in the advice market, along with a raft of challenges. Consider the growing appetite for advice by small to medium enterprise, the shift from compliance to higher value advisory, the growing pool of superannuation and the SMSF dynamic, and the changes in technology that will allow increasing efficiencies and profitability for firms who are disciplined and focused.
Can our target firms tackle these alone? CountPlus can be both a catalyst for change and a competitive advantage, allowing them to more confidently ride the waves of opportunity and successfully navigate change.
At our Annual CEOs Summit or our quarterly CEO catch ups, our CEOs talk with other leaders from around the network to exchange views and perspectives - and benefit from the collective wisdom.
Strengthen their balance-sheet.
At CountPlus, we invest in our firms through:
- financial disciplines that allow a regular income stream to owner-drivers (paid in the form of quarterly franked dividends)
- access to capital to fund growth and clear debt, and working capital
- reduction or elimination of succession planning/funding concerns
- access to the combined buying power and economies of scale that CountPlus can negotiate
With business risk reduced and a new source of investment capital, owners can make improvements to strengthen their balance sheet and stay competitive in their local market.
Raise the investment in people.
A priority for all professional advice firms is to attract and retain talented people in a tight employment market. Aligned ownership and incentive models, an enhanced ability to bring about generational change, and more robust HR practices will help these firms to level the playing field and ensure that their teams all get the chance to grow and succeed, with coaching from the sidelines.
Our current members are seeing value.
With so much in the works as we continue our transformation, it was pleasing to see that a recent survey (October 2017) found that CountPlus Member CEOs had identified value from their association with CountPlus. What did they notice and value the most?
- Improved governance, financial discipline and accountability
- Growth either from equity, acquisitions, financial backing or brand association
- Stewardship, leadership, direction and new services from CountPlus
- Group buying power and economies of scale
- An enhanced ability to bring about generational change, and
- An enhanced ability to provide financial planning services
And with additional initiatives now being planned, we are confident our value proposition will continue to grow.