Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Client Advisor Dialogues

One goal of the Client Advisor Awards is to celebrate the impact of the professional services industry on the economy. Each year, as part of the program, finalists and sponsors are invited to attend a content rich Summit session. For those, who didn't make the exclusive circle, here is the executive summary from the 2007 Summit dialogue about the societal impact of professional service firms on our City and State.

A panel of prominent local executives: Randy Hain, Managing Partner, Bell Oaks, Andre Schnabl, Atlanta Managing Partner, Grant Thornton, Dave Sutton, Founder/Managing Partner, TopRight, and Bill Viehman, Chief Marketing Officer, Perkins+Will, provided a broad perspective regarding how and why professional service firms are a vital part of a market like Atlanta. Here's how these firms have a substantial positive impact on the economy, the community and the environment:

1. Professional services firms play an irreplaceable role in the community. They attract bright, highly educated people who are well compensated and help fuel the local economy. They give back to the community by committing their time money and expertise to local organizations that provide services to improve the quality of life. Professional Service Firms tend to lead the way in fostering work cultures that encourage respect without regard for race, religion, nationality, or sexual preference. They are friendly to the environment as they fill office complexes, not factories. And, professional firms (for instance, Habif Arogeti & Wynne) have led the way in terms of moving to paperless offices and (in the case of Perkins+Will) in encouraging all of their stakeholders to behave in a similarly responsible manner.

2. Professional service firms are good corporate citizens because it is good for their business not just for sake of altruism. Improving quality of life is important for enhancing their ability to attract the best and the brightest. They bring business processes to the non-profits they help which make those community organizations more effective. They are politically active and connected to be well positioned to bring the public and private sectors together for the overall good of the community. McKenna Long’s ranks, for instance, are stocked equally with Democrats and Republicans and the entire organization has positioned itself as a leader in public-private exchange and partnership.

3. Professional services firms most often work across many different industry segments and are typically not as deeply affected by the economic cycles of one industry. They can quickly shift industry focus as changes in the economy bury some opportunities and create new ones.

4. Professional services firms help improve the business and economic environment by working to improve the quality of life, assisting in attracting new business, and encouraging top talent to relocate here.

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