Ron Baker is Wrong

VeraSage prides itself on dissenting ideas, which is why we have a “Skeptic/Dissenter” category under membership.

Greg Kyte is the self-proclaimed “Champion of the Dissenters.”

I’m proud to post his first contribution and let our readers decide for themselves the merits of his arguments. I’m sure this won’t be the last we hear from Greg.


Ron Baker is Wrong

Ron Baker and his stooges at VeraSage have long tried to discredit the well established modus operandi of professional firms: Time Accounting. To do so, they use the following simplistic equation:

Revenue = People Power x Efficiency x Hourly Rate

Unfortunately for the VeraSage minions, they have been attacking a straw man. The manifestation of the formula as conjured by Mr. Baker does not accurately represent the robust nature of the hourly billing convention. Professional firms naturally augment the formula with the processes by which they calculate Hourly Rates for their personnel. Best practices for calculating the Hourly Rate element include the use of the following formula:

Hourly Rate = RABR x Experience Factor x Stupidity Factor x Biorhythm Factor x Opportunity Cost Adjustment.

Allow me to enlighten the brainwashed value pricing hoard on the components of the augmented hourly rate element.

Reputation Adjusted Base Rate (RABR). Every firm has a reputation within the context of the business community that it serves, and this reputation determines the base rate to be used as the starting point for calculating billing rates for personnel within the firm. Also, it is universally accepted that the reputation of a firm equals the quality of its service. Arthur Anderson was unquestionably the most reputable accounting firm in the world in 2000, and to this day nobody questions the quality of their work.

Experience Factor. To begin to hone the firm-wide RABR to the individual practitioner’s hourly rate, it is obvious to everyone but Ron Baker and his goons that experience is the most important factor. Without a doubt, a college graduate with a piercing analytical mind and a penchant for big picture value creation cannot deliver the same quality of service that a middle-age alcoholic in the middle of a years-long divorce and a crippling debt burden with 20 years of experience can.

Stupidity Factor. Stupid individuals should have a lower billable rate than smart people. A Stupidity Factor of 1.00 means that the individual has committed the average number of errors during the prior period. A Stupidity factor above 1.00 indicates more errors, more stupidity, and a lower billing rate. No, no wait. A lower stupidity factor means lower intelligence and more errors. No, that doesn’t seem right. A higher stupidity factor means stupider people with higher rates. Yeah, there we go.

Biorhythm Factor. I am a morning person. I work best in the morning, and I am virtually useless in the mid-afternoon. Therefore, since my efficiency and the quality of my work are higher in the morning, I bill clients 15 percent higher before lunch. I also charge a fifteen percent premium for the 20 minutes right after drinking a Diet Coke. To be fair, I also give my clients a 15 percent discount for the 20 minutes immediately following calls from my ex-wife or for any time that I happen to be hung over. For price sensitive clients, we have a partner with clinical depression and irritable bowel syndrome.

Opportunity Cost Adjustment. One of Ron Baker’s harebrained arguments against time accounting is that it does not reflect the realities of economic laws. Is there a more irrefutable economic concept than opportunity cost? Opportunity cost comes into play constantly during busy season when personnel are working odd hours. I charge an opportunity cost premium on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings because I hate missing Idol, and I give a discount on Sunday mornings just so I can have a good excuse for skipping church.

So, sorry, Ron, your simplistic revenue formula has been turned on its head. It looks like I’ve single-handedly brought VeraSage to its knees, and I sincerely hope that you can get out of the lease on the office space for your (virtual) headquarters.


  1. I have to agree with Greg on the biorhythm part. We had a partner that fit the description he mentions except that instead of irritable bowel syndrome it was more like furious bowel syndrome. Worked like a charm!

  2. Regardless how many variables you include in this formula, the left side of the equation still says, “Hourly Rate.” Anyone who bills by the hour is inherently at odds with his client. Your job is to maximize billable hours; theirs is to minimize them. It’s outdated at best, and unethical at worst. If experience is to count for anything, it should say the professional has enough experience to know what the project will cost, whether it’s a consulting engagement, a divorce, or doing someone’s taxes.

    You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say experience simply means you charge more per hour. The ethics question still exists. As Alan Weiss says, “If you’re charging by the hour, you’re just practicing.”

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