AICPA Survey: Growth and Firm Development Key Priorities for CPA Firms

With economic conditions improving, CPAs are taking a longer-term, more strategic view of goals to ensure their firms thrive, according to the American Institute of CPAs' (AICPA) 2013 CPA Firm Top Issues Survey. Two priorities have assumed new importance in most firms' lists: bringing in new business and finding top-notch staffers to handle anticipated growth.
The Top Issues Survey is conducted biennially with results segmented by firm size, since the needs of a sole practitioner are dramatically different from those of a top 100 firm. While each size grouping has a unique list of top five issues, common elements give insight into trends. 
Client retention, for example, was a significant concern for firms in the 2009 survey, during the throes of the economic downturn. The 2011 survey saw continued focus on retention of existing clients, but also showed a tilt toward growth issues. The latest survey shows that forward-looking trend has become even more pronounced.
"When the economy was in free fall, firm leaders largely focused on stabilizing their client base," said Mark Koziel, the AICPA's vice president of firm services and global alliances. "Now we're seeing firms being able to catch their breath and engage in more planning for future growth."
One example of this is succession planning, a top five issue for only the largest firms two years ago. It now appears on the lists of most firms.
The renewed emphasis on staff recruitment signals a return to normalcy, of sorts. "Finding qualified staff" was a top issue from 1997 to 2007 for all but the smallest firms, but disappeared entirely from top five lists in 2009. 
Key differences remain among different firm size groups. "Keeping up with changes and complexity of tax laws" remains the top concern of small firms with five or fewer professionals, which isn't surprising after a particularly busy tax season. Sole practitioners and firms with two to five professionals were also the only groups to include "seasonality/workload compression" on their top five lists.
The largest firms, meanwhile, emphasize "owner/partner accountability and unity," which appears on only one other group's top five list. 
For detailed results, visit the CPA Firm Top Issues Survey page. Firms interested in growth opportunities and business development tips can find more information at the AICPA Private Companies Practice Section's Firm Practice Center
About the survey: 
The AICPA Private Companies Practice Section's CPA Firm Top Issues Survey was conducted April 23 to May 17 by IntelliSurvey via an e-mail questionnaire sent to PCPS members. The 1,012 respondents represent a mix of practice types, from sole practitioners to firms with twenty-one or more professionals. The margin of error was plus or minus five percentage points.
Source: June 11 AICPA Press Release

You may like these other stories...

While reputational risk is the No. 1 nonfinancial concern among corporate directors, cybersecurity/IT risk is gaining steam. In fact, both private companies and organizations with more than $1 billion in revenue felt they...
Many senior US tax professionals believe that a streamlined audit process will be the top benefit resulting from the IRS Transfer Pricing Audit Roadmap, a new toolkit organized around a notional 24-month audit timeline,...
Tax accounting to be simplified for money-market fundsThe US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted 3-2 on Wednesday for sweeping changes to institutional money-market funds, Emily Chasan, senior editor of...

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Jul 31
In this session Excel expert David Ringstrom helps beginners get up to speed in Microsoft Excel. However, even experienced Excel users will learn some new tricks, particularly when David discusses under-utilized aspects of Excel.
Aug 5
This webcast will focus on accounting and disclosure policies for various types of consolidations and business combinations.
Aug 20
In this session we'll review best practices for how to generate interest in your firm’s services.