5 Things You May Have Missed During Tax Season
Whether you’re new to tax season or an experienced pro, there were probably times in the months leading up to April 15that brought new meaning to the term “multi-tasking.” Helping clients sift through back-up material, preparing and filing returns and keeping abreast of tax news, is an all-consuming process. Yet, tax season is also a time when you can easily overlook opportunities to improve your practice, strengthen client relationships and foster your professional development.
With April 15 comfortably behind you, now is the perfect time to look back and identify opportunities that can help grow your practice or help manage your staff. Here are five AICPA resources you might have kept on the back burner while you were in the throes of tax season.
- Expand small business services with the FRF for SMEs™ framework: The Financial Reporting Framework for Small- and Medium-Sized Entities is designed specifically for the millions of small and medium-sized business owners looking for comprehensive non-GAAP financial statements. It blends traditional accounting methods with accrual income tax methods, and uses historical cost as its primary measurement basis rather than the more complicated fair value measurements. The results provide relevant, reliable, simplified and potentially less costly financial information tailored to the needs of lenders and other financial statement users.
- Evaluate key management metrics: Good practice management is predicated on determining whether your firm is operating at peak performance, and the National Management of an Accounting Practice Survey is your go-to resource for the task. The survey, conducted annually by the AICPA Private Companies Practice Section and the Texas Society of CPAs, allows you to benchmark your firm against both peers and non-peers, who are categorized by firm size and region, and identify opportunities. The 2014 survey is in the field now. Don’t miss this chance to report your firm’s metrics and gain insights that can help you plan your firm’s future when the survey results are released in September. The AICPA seeks input from member as well as non-member firms, so please consider being a part of this valuable profession-wide resource. National and regional survey results are available to PCPS firms at no charge and, in addition, all participating firms will receive a personalized report for free.
- Stand out as your clients’ go-to adviser: Change and uncertainty are still taking a heavy toll on your small business clients – and fueling their urgent need for your financial and management skills. However, before becoming your clients’ top adviser, you need to ensure that they know the complete range of your service and expertise areas. Then, stay informed on the issues, from health insurance options and regulatory requirements to tax changes and the latest financing sources, that are impacting them the most by visiting the Addressing Small Business Client Concerns Resources page. AICPA members can download ready-made client-facing content to share in newsletters and on firm websites to demonstrate their value to small businesses.
- Take a 360-degree view of third-party verification requests: Increased caution in the financial sector following the economic crisis has led to an increased demand for third-party verification letters (also called comfort letters), that confirm your client’s information before financial decisions are made. Organizations that request comfort letters include lenders, loan brokers, health insurance providers and regulators. The good news is that providing third-party verifications can strengthen client relationships and deliver valuable growth opportunities to your practice. The caveat is to first fully understand the professional standards, IRS rules and requirements, government regulations and the information on which you cannot provide assurance – solvency. The AICPA’s Third-Party Verification Resources webpage has the answers you need, plus a toolkit of resources to help you and your staff CPAs address client concerns and inform stakeholders of the types of verification you’re able to provide.
- Reaffirm your commitment to learning – or help encourage your staff to do so: An intensifying global marketplace, stronger competition and rising client expectations are not only making ongoing skills development a top priority for CPAs, but also ushering in innovative approaches to thinking and learning. The AICPA is hosting three events that can help ensure that your—and your staff’s—expertise and value to clients will continue to grow:
- Practitioners Symposium and Tech+ Conference, June 9 to 11 in Las Vegas
- Emerging Partner Training Forums
- E.D.G.E. Conference, Aug. 6 to 8 in New Orleans
Now that tax season is over and you’ve (hopefully) had a chance to take a break, what post-tax season steps are you taking to improve your firm’s performance and your professional development?
Susan S. Coffey, CPA, CGMA, Senior Vice President – Public Practice and Global Alliances, American Institute of CPAs.