Bringing In New Clients
Compared to previous years, CPA firms are feeling more confident in their growth potential, according to The PCPS AICPA CPA Firm 2013 Top Issues Diagnostic Report. The biennial report is based on surveys of firms of varying sizes (sole practitioners, 2-5 professionals, 6-10 professionals, 11-20 professionals, and 21+).
These issues have always been among the top 10 priorities for CPA firms, but not always ranked as highly compared to other issues. From 2009 forward, for example, firms of every size were focused on retaining existing clients and managing the work compression brought about by the seasonal nature of tax and other services. The most recent surveys, conducted in 2013, indicate that firms of all sizes are looking to the future, and plan to build a foundation on succession planning, finding qualified staff, and bringing in new clients.
The authors cite three specific actions CPA firms need to take:
- Practitioners are back in the business of growth. Demand is strong once again at CPA firms, as evidenced by an emphasis on bringing in new clients and mounting concern about staffing issues, an issue that had moved from center stage in the recession years.
- Firms should prepare for strong competition for good staff. Finding qualified staff was among the top five for all but the smallest firms. In 2011, it only made the top-five list for firms with 11 to 20 professionals, and in 2009 it didn’t make any group’s top-five list. Firms would do well to renew their hiring and retention efforts so they are ready to service the new business they are seeking.
- The time to think about succession is now. It is a particularly critical concern as Baby Boomers head into retirement and as firms face concerns about finding and retaining staff who are qualified not only to perform services but also to take on leadership roles. This task is complicated by the differing attitudes and expectations of the next generation, professionals who may not want to work the lengthy hours that current firm leaders put in. Firms that have not begun concentrating on their transition to new ownership or leadership would be well advised to do so.
While the mechanics of how these issues will be addressed vary with the size and resources of the firm, the underlying goals will need to be met if the firm is to be positioned for growth in the future.
Source: The PCPS AICPA CPA Firm 2013 Top Issues Diagnostic Report at http://www.aicpa.org/InterestAreas/PrivateCompaniesPracticeSection/StrategyPlanning/FirmStrategyandPlanning/DownloadableDocuments/2013-Top-Issues-Commentary.pdf