High-value uses cases for a global member firm database

This is the first of a three-part blog series on global independence. This blog focuses on the expanded uses of a global member firm client database aside from risk and compliance, and dives into new use cases such as business development.

Your firm manages risk well.  But your firm’s purpose is not solely to manage risk.  The concept of a global member firm client database – a consolidated listing of clients and engagements across all your member firms – has far more use cases beyond risk and compliance.  Yes, risk is the first problem you can solve with this database – and having one place to view all client and engagement data makes independence checks less burdensome and more standardized across your firm network.  But managing risk must serve some higher purpose if your firm wants to grow.  Let’s explore some of those highest-value use cases, here:

Restricted lists can protect your prospective business

First, restricted lists.  Accounting firms who are about to pitch for audit business are frequently surprised to discover they have been conflicted out because their firm has been delivering prohibited non-audit services for this client.  Think of finding out during the tender process that your biggest member firm is conflicted out of a large prospect’s audit work because a member firm in your network accepted their payroll work 6 months ago.  You want to know this well before the bidding process starts.  Better yet you want to be able to proactively place the prospective client on a global restricted list so your entire firm network knows not to pursue any business with them for the next 12 months during which time the firm is planning a strategic pursuit of the company’s audit business.  Furthermore, proactively discovering potential independence impairments allows you to implement appropriate safeguards or wind down the prohibited businesses altogether in time for the bidding process.  If you have a global member firm client dataset in place, you can build into it a restricted list function that does just this.  Without a global database, you rely on an inefficient system of ad hoc communications and internal requests.

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The partner-led CRM system

Second, CRM.  Who knows who and how do they know them?  A global database sets up the foundation for a robust CRM system.  You can understand the relationships your firm has with clients, which member firms and partners have those relationships and how those relationships originated. Today’s CRM solutions work well for manufacturing and retail sectors but are not meant for the unique needs of partner-led organizations in the professional services.  Picture this scenario: you have identified a prospective automotive client coming due for an audit rotation and you want to know which partner in your firm has the industry expertise appropriate for this prospect.  Your CRM system reveals which partner recently delivered audit services to a client in the same industry while also highlighting that another partner in your firm who went to law school with the CFO of the prospective client.

Finally, the global database enables you to discover that a member firm in your network is currently doing bookkeeping work for this prospect.  Now you are armed.  You have your firm wind-down the low-value bookkeeping work so that you are cleared for independence.  You ask your partner who knows the CFO to make an introduction into the company and have your industry-experienced partner prepare a proposal to the CFO detailing why your firm is the best candidate for their upcoming audit work.  The insights that led to this relationship discovery, wind-down and pursuit would not have been readily apparent without a purpose-built CRM system built upon a global member firm client database.

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Strategically explore your whitespace

Third, whitespace.  Gain improved insights and visibility on where your firm could create new relationships with large international prospective clients across geographies in which your firm operates.  Your firm will also have a deeper understanding of where the majority of your referrals originate to better leverage these relationships.  Before the global database, it was difficult to store this information in one place.  Now you can.  This information in one place leads to more insights, more strategic pursuits and ultimately more of the business that your firm wants to do.  

The key to your global independence solution

When you work with Intapp to create your global database, you will see that it is the best view into your global client data that you can have. You can clear global conflicts, gain insights into your client list, and build your business strategically, all on the back of your client data being located and useable in one place. Indeed, the global database is the crucial component of Intapp’s Global Independence solution.  Once your global client data is brought together in this way, a cohesive picture of your firm’s business is revealed.  The result is a powerful platform from which a standardized Independence workflow can be built while also enabling your firm to pursue high-value business strategically as a unified global firm.  And these are just the first and second-order use cases.  It’s exciting to think about the doors that open to your firm with the act of unifying your global client data.

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Learn more about how to get your firm on the path to a global database fit to your specific needs.