What does it mean to be a professional?
I was delighted to contribute an essay to the Summer 2018 edition of The Jericho Times, the publication of the think tank and consultancy Jericho Chambers, which focused on "The Future of the Professions."
You can’t think about the future without understanding where you are now and how you got here.
In recent years many professional service firms have followed the current fashion for businesses to promote their broad societal ‘purpose’ – but is it necessary? In this article I ask if it is time for these firms to ditch their grandiose purpose statements and reconnect with a more profound commitment to what it really means to be a professional?
I explore the defining characteristics of professionals: their historical roots, how they have evolved over the centuries, and how they are now being challenged on all sides by artificial intelligence, extreme commercial pressures, and the increasing incursions of the regulators.
‘Individual professionals’ ethics (their gut feeling about what is right) are getting lost in the mix of their firm’s business imperatives and their clients’ expectations. Professionals compete to outdo each other in providing a level of client service which goes “above and beyond....”, but above and beyond what exactly? In their quest to “superplease” their clients, professionals risk losing their professional soul.’