01: Rob Brown – BD Academy CEO

Rob Brown, BD Academy founder and host of the Top 100 Club Podcast for large accounting firmsWelcome to the very first episode of the top 100 club podcast. My name is Rob Brown and today I’ll be sharing what you can expect from this radio show.

The Top 100 Club podcast is for large accounting firms – the people that lead them, work in them and serve them. In each episode, I will interview world class accounting leaders and global influencers about what makes the good accounting firms great. Specifically, what makes the top firms grow, thrive and differentiate in today’s competitive accounting world.

As of now, we have 178 guests lined up to appear on the show, which should take us a few years to get through! Some guests will be so good, we’ll have them on more than once! Guests are two types:

1. PRACTITIONERS: firm-wide leaders, managing partners, CEOs, seasoned rainmakers or top BD and marketing directors of large accounting firms and the networks they are a part of.

2. THOUGHT LEADERS: accounting profession influencers, disrupters and thought leaders who advise, train, serve and speak into the top 100 accounting firms. Some are experts (commentators, authors, consultants). Others are in business (suppliers, vendors and partners to top 100 accounting firms.

In a moment, I’ll share with you some of the questions we’ll be asking these guests, and the topics we’ll be covering. But before we jump into that, let me explain why our company, the BD Academy, decided to start this podcast. There were three shifts that prompted this show;

1. There is no one guru. Nobody knows it all. No one person, book, website or resource has all the answers to what makes good accounting firms great. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle. Lots of pieces, each one part of the big picture. Some of the secrets come from inside the firms themselves. Some come from outside – the wise sages who see what’s coming before anyone else.

That’s why we’ll be interviewing them all – to get the full picture. To stimulate the debate. To give large firms the very latest and best intel on what’s working and what isn’t. On what threats and opportunities are coming up. That takes an army of thinkers and practitioners. Hence a regular podcast to get the news and views of all the people that count.

The other danger of relying on one guru, one voice, one consultant, one way, one approach is that you lose perspective. There is little original content out there. For large accounting firms to succeed in today’s aggressively competitive world, they need insight. inspiration. guidance. They need education over entertainment.

2. Firms are overwhelmed with data. Information is readily everywhere and instantly accessible. Forget the technical and technological side of accounting, I’m talking just about the growth stuff. It’s hard to keep up with it all. Mindset, marketing, BD, culture, leadership. You can get all of that from google, but who can know what’s right and what isn’t? Who can say what will work and what won’t. Who can tell what to pay attention to and what to ignore? Who can show you where to invest and where to avoid?

That’s why I’ll be acting as your guide. The doorway to the insights, the opinions, the observations and the predictions of those in the know. I’ll be helping you break through the bull, the waffle, the copy cats and the hype to what really works.

3. Audio is the future. So says social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk. Not video, but audio. One in five queries made by search are through voice. Audio is eclipsing video by 76% year on year. Why? The smart phone has changed the game. More 16-30-year olds are listening to podcasts instead of music during their commutes. All because it saves them time, and time is what humans value most.

Vaynerchuk says that because we are now consuming multiple sources of media at once, podcasts and audio are destined to win. We can check our email while listening to a podcast, exercise while listening to an audio book and take notes while listening to music. With video you can’t do both. It takes all of your attention to consume that content the second it starts.

Audio and voice are by far the most natural way for humans to interact. We like to speak and listen. There was roughly 1.5X more audio consumed than video in 2016. And I’m not going to lie. I want your attention. I’ll be uncovering all this great stuff to help large accounting firms grow and thrive. And I want to guide you through it. I’ve got a much better chance of getting your attention by leading with an audio podcast like this than anything else.

So what can you expect to hear when you listen to each episode? First, each show is 30 mins or less, and if you’ve got a great podcast app on your phone, you might do like I do and play it at a faster speed. We’re all time poor these days, but a few minutes every week or so to share with you what’s making good accounting firms great will move the dial for you.

You already know the two types of guests I’ll be interviewing. Occasionally I’ll do an episode myself with feedback on a conference, book, resource, idea or experience that’s making a difference to large firms like yours.

Second, let’s look at the content of these shows. Guests are asked questions such as:

✓ In the top 100, what makes the good accounting firms great?
✓ What do the progressive, thriving accounting firms do well?
✓ How are top 100 accounting firms winning work, doing BD and achieving growth?
✓ What are the trends, stats and critical issues shaping large accounting firms?
✓ What makes a top performer, work winner or promotable accountant in a large firm?

If you’ve got other questions you’d like asking, let me know – connect to me on LinkedIn or on Twitter @therobbrown or email me

If you know someone who would be a perfect guest on the show, or even if you yourself would like to be a guest, get in touch. The more input we get from listeners, the better the show will be.

The topics discussed will include growth, legacy, value, leadership, succession, culture, BD, marketing, positioning, branding, differentiation, reputation, trust, winning work, sales, mindset, technology, recruitment, trends, disrupters and opportunities.

Third, let’s talk for a minute about who will listen to this show. The audience will be made up of three kinds of listeners. Obviously, with a name like the Top 100 Club, it’s all about the larger firms – the people in them and the people outside who serve them.

So the main audience will be the leaders who run those top leading firms. Managing partners, chairmen, CEOs, executive board members, partners and senior partners, directors and managers, heads of departments like BD, Marketing, L&D and HR plus the many heads of functions and offices.

These people set policy, model culture, define strategy and drive change. They need the insight and drive to set the course and lead responsibly. The Top 100 Club podcast will give them valuable information about what other large firms are doing well and not well.

The next group of listeners will come from the rank and file in large accounting firms. The engine room. The fee earners, the professionals lower down the food chain who want to make a difference. They’ll be the ones pushing for partner, looking for ways to serve clients better, win more work, become more of a trusted advisor and build a formidable portfolio. win more referrals.

The final group of listeners will be people like me. My peers. Perhaps some competitors. People with a vested interest in the top 100 accounting firms. It’s one way they’ll stay up to date and gain valuable insights from other experts in the accounting profession.


Accounting firms all over the UK are looking for growth in a crowded ‘me too’ market. The Big Four own 62% market share, so much is still to play for. However, winning work is getting harder, particularly for the best, most lucrative clients. Growth by M&A is the path some firms are setting. But significant organic growth is possible if firms take advantage of the strategies, ideas and insights shared in these interviews.

Of course, I have a vested interest in knowing what makes good firms great. The Business Development Academy I founded works exclusively with top 100 accounting firms to increase their work winning or BD capability. Our 3 unique BD Academy programs are year-long curriculums of inhouse training and work winning strategies. The transformational is an army of confident, effective and strategic work winners in large accounting firms.

This solves your succession plan as we train you up an army of committed, confident, skilled and effective work winners to be your partners of the future.

You’ll also find recruitment of top talent easier. The BD Academy is a very attractive career focused training program that helps large accounting firms appeals to top grads and very skilled accountants.

From experience, we also know the BD Academy helps drive an enhanced work winning culture in your accounting firm. It creates an ecosystem of rainmaking that generates real buzz and hunger within large accounting firms to win work and generate new business.

Finally, if you want to ensure you hit your revenue projections, the BD Academy has a track record of bringing in an extra £2m or more to your firm’s bottom line in new business and cross sales. This is equal to £20m or more with good client retention and proper service.

One top 40 accounting firm client has just added £2m of new work from the BDA program (made up of advisory, compliance and cross-selling fees), which represents £20m+ in lifetime value to the firm. From their largely rural, agricultural and manufacturing client base, this represents a stellar impact on revenue.

There is plenty more on the BD Academy at bdacademy.pro. Depending on your plans to grow, win market share and become more profitable, the BD Academy may be a good fit for your firm.

To finish this opening episode of the Top 100 Club, I want to thank you for listening, recommending to others and even leaving a review on itunes if you feel so inclined. If you’re not already, make sure to subscribe to the show in Itunes or your favourite podcast player.

I’d love to know what you think of the Top 100 Club personally – your suggestions are really welcome. Connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter @therobbrown.

Until next time, have a great day and welcome officially to the TOP 100 CLUB!

About Podcast Host & Author, Rob Brown

Rob Brown is the founder and CEO of the successful BD ACADEMY, which creates armies of confident, effective work winners in large accounting firms. He is also host of the popular Accounting Influencers podcast, featuring interviews with top accounting leaders and global influencers about what makes good firms great and good accountants world class.

According to LinkedIn, Rob is the world's most recommended networking expert. He is also the bestselling author of Build Your Reputation (published by the world's largest business publishers, Wiley), a featured TEDx speaker and is a popular keynote speaker and MC at conferences and business events worldwide.

@TheRobBrown