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View Peter Black's profile on LinkedIn   E: peter.black@peterblackcoaching.com   M: 0419 510 955  T: @PeterBlackCoach

Whilst coaching or consulting in a professional services firm is sometimes a cross between Business Coaching, CEO Coaching and Executive Coaching, it needs to recognise that it is a different structure and often has a unique culture compared to a typical corporate organisation. For instance, the following features are often present:
  • a partnership or sole practitioner and unlimited liability structure
  • an undefined or loose exit and succession planning strategy
  • a revenue source driven by billable hours with defining scope of work and the disciplines around time recording, assignment management and management of client expectations being critical (please refer to the Professional Practice Drivers)
  • the largest assets being Work in Progress and Debtors with the policies and procedures around billing and collection critical to the financial success of the business
  • a cost structure where salaries and related on-costs are by far the biggest component
  • a highly intelligent and qualified workforce
  • a distinction between professional and non-professional staff yet an interdependence between them
  • the ongoing challenge of meeting the expectations of "being a professional" whilst addressing current workforce demands such as flexible working arrangements, work-life balance and career progression.
The business issues therefore can be similar but also very different from a corporate organisation because of these features. The coaching issues can also be similar (people development, transition and retention) but also different and more critical because of the practice drivers. For example, the career progression pathway for many professionals requires the interaction of technical, leadership, practice development and other"soft" skills at different levels - much of which is not taught in the educational institutions or professional bodies.

I bring a unique blend of skills and experience to coaching and consulting around the practice management issues of a professional services firm being a Chartered Accountant, Chartered Secretary, former National Operations Director of PricewaterhouseCoopers and now an Executive Coach and Professional Practice Management Consultant with extensive "soft" accreditations.  My understanding off these issues arises from my 26 years in PricewaterhouseCoopers/Price Waterhouse in Australia, with the last 14 of those years involved in administration, finance, operations and practice management roles. I had significant involvement in the merger of the legacy firms of PricewaterhouseCoopers in 1998/99, the rationalization and reorganization of various business units, significant process improvement initiatives and then an operational execution of a strategic realignment of the firm afterwards to meet market demands.

My roles in PricewaterhouseCoopers (with a profile article detailing much of this here) included:
  • 2005: Inaugural Pricing Director for the Assurance division responsible for understanding and developing pricing models and the "value proposition"
  • 2001-2005: National Firm Operations Director responsible for various firm projects and national shared services including credit control, document processing, facility management, practice management and resource scheduling.
  • 1998-2001: National Assurance Operations Director
  • 1996-1998: Regional Finance and Administration Director
  • 1992-1996: Finance and Administration Director, Parramatta office
  • 1983-1991: Corporate Tax Advisory Manager
  • 1980-1983: Corporate Auditor 
Since leaving PwC, I have undertaken various practice management consulting assignments for accounting, engineering, information technology and legal firms. I also work with a number of professional firms including architectural, bookkeeping, migration advisory and software consulting firms through my CEO mentoring with The Executive Connection.