CPA firms predict economic recovery will begin late in 2009

Forty-seven percent of small- to medium-sized CPA firms believe the economy will begin to recover in the fourth quarter of 2009, according to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants' 2009 CPA Firm Top Issues Survey. Ten percent of firms believe the economy is already improving.

"The majority of CPAs in small- and mid-size firms counsel businesses on financial matters, so it is encouraging that they believe recent signs of economic improvement will continue," said James Metzler, AICPA vice president for small firm interests.

The CPA firms surveyed reported that the biggest issues confronting them as a result of the economic crisis are strains on accounts receivable and revenue reductions because of client attrition and fee pressure. Twenty-four percent of sole practitioners, 19 percent of firms with two to five professionals, 18 percent of firms with six to 10 professionals, and 22 percent of firms with 11 to 20 professionals said the current economic situation has had no impact on their business. More than 10 percent of CPA firms with 10 or fewer professionals are actually seeing additional client opportunities because of the recession.

CPA employment is expected to remain steady with 83 percent of sole practitioners, 75 percent of firms with two to five professionals, 56 percent of firms with six to 10 professionals, and 49 percent of firms ranging from 11 to 20 professionals expecting no increase or decrease in staffing.

The AICPA expects to announce the complete results of its 2009 CPA Firm Top Issues survey early next week. Key issues will include client retention, succession planning and marketing to new clients.

Methodology

The 2009 CPA Firm Top Issues Survey was conducted for the AICPA by IntelliSurvey from April 29 to May 30 via an e-mail questionnaire sent to the AICPA's Private Companies Practice Section Membership. Of the 1,012 respondents, 235 were sole practitioners; 431 were from small firms with two to five professionals; 151 were from firms with six to 10 professionals; 99 were from firms with 11 to 20 professionals, and 96 were from firms with 21 or more professionals. The margin of error was plus or minus three percentage points.

You can read more information and full poll results.

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