Who Else Didn’t See This Coming?

March 20, 2017 | By Paul Latham

Blockbuster didn’t see Netflix coming.

Hilton didn’t see Airbnb coming.

The taxi and limousine commission didn’t see Uber coming.

And I’ll bet the senior living industry didn’t see this coming…

Even though it’s 973 feet long, 15 stories tall, and weighs 40,000 tons.

What I’m referring to is the world’s largest and most spectacular assisted living facility. Have you seen it? It’s pictured above.

Seers such as Tom Hood and Kimberly Ellison-Taylor have warned us for years: disruption sneaks up from below the surface -- from the places we least expect it.

According to a recent article in the New York Times, some savvy seniors have discovered that “for little more than the cost of retiring to an assisted-living facility, they can enjoy many of the same amenities – comfortable quarters; meals, social events and education programs; and round-the-clock access to medical care” – while cruising the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, or even around the world.

So they’re moving in – in some cases year-round – converting a floating stateroom into a permanent residence.

In order to attract this older and wealthier demographic, several cruise lines including Royal Caribbean, Oceania and Crystal Cruises are building privately-leased luxury apartments into their new ship designs. And they’re modeling them after rooms in upscale hotels and ritzy condominium developments.

Might this trend disrupt the retirement home industry? Too early to tell. But it’s certainly a shot across the bow of uninspired cookie cutter retirement residences.

Reminds me of the conversations I recently had with three young Turks I expect we’ll be hearing a lot from in the coming years. One works at a CPA firm. One owns a CPA firm. And one sources top talent for CPA firms.

Here’s the Cliff Notes: The most talented and ambitious millennials are not buying into the become-an-associate-then-a-partner-then-buy-out-a-senior-partner path to upward mobility and ownership.

They’d rather just start their own firm from scratch.

Likewise, what many Baby Boomer accountants have to offer – a coterie of clients who primarily want their taxes done – has very little appeal to the upcoming generation.

They want to add value, not add numbers. They’re entrepreneurs, not technicians. They expect every day to be different and challenging, not the same old rote activities. They want to be advisors, not accountants. They expect to make a difference.


What if you’ve worked for the last 20 or 30 years to build up a CPA practice . . .

. . . that no one wants to buy?

Is it time to embrace change?

To turn your ship around?

And think outside the boat?