Editorial Manager/US Team Lead
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Digital CPA 2015

Survey: CPA Firms List Top Innovation Priorities

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Dec 8th 2015
Editorial Manager/US Team Lead
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According to a new survey conducted by CPA.com, 65 percent of firms that are considered early adopters of technology and practice management tools say it is imperative to implement changes in the next 12 months.

Known as the CPA.com Innovation in Public Accounting Survey, findings also showed that firms outside the early majority group were more cautious about the need to adjust course. Early majority firms also were more likely to say the necessary change involved must be “to a great degree.”  The key findings of the survey were announced at CPA.com's Digitial CPA 2015 conference in Las Vegas.

“The good news is that a solid majority of CPA firms realize they have to change to stay relevant,” said Amy Radin, a strategic marketing consultant and innovation expert who helped design the survey. “But for the general group of CPA firms, we see a sizeable minority who say change may not be necessary for five years or more, if at all. Beware: Clients aren't likely to be that patient.”

Early majority firms and those from the broader category share the same top innovation priority for the coming year: developing new services to provide more value for existing clients. Other priorities are largely similar, although the general group of CPA firms is more concerned with potential obstacles due to leadership and culture issues.

A total of 409 firms responded to the survey; 178 from the early majority group and 231 from the general group. The early majority group had a higher proportion of larger firms (20 percent were associated with firms with 100 staffers or more), compared to the broader group (10 percent were from firms with 100 staffers or more).

The top innovation priorities for “early majority” firms over the next 12 to 18 months include:

  1. Developing new offerings that expand the value we provide to our existing clients (62 percent)
  2. Implementing a new offering for a specific market segment we believe has growth (50 percent)
  3. Developing new offerings or approaches to the market that attract new clients (46 percent)
  4. Realizing value to the firm from existing innovation investments (41 percent)
  5. Updating current offerings to be more competitive (37 percent)
  6. Deciding and moving forward on what our innovation priorities should be (35 percent)
  7. Implementing a cloud-based accounting system (32 percent)

“One interesting finding of the survey is that CPA firms, early majority or not, don't really see a competitive threat from specific challengers,” said Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA.com. “Only a small percentage of firms said it was a priority to respond to ‘a competitor who is outpacing us.' The problem is tomorrow's competitor might be invisible today, and if you aren't paying attention to client expectations, it can take you by surprise.”

The CPA.com Innovation in Public Accounting Survey was conducted online from Oct. 4-23, 2015. Two groups were invited to participate: â€œearly majority,” or firms identified by CPA.com that have either launched cloud-based accounting services or participated in conferences, workshops, or webinars related to that activity, and representatives from a broader pool of CPA firms.

You can see the full results of the survey here.

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