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Appearances are Not Deceiving: Powering CPAs as Premier Tax Service Providers

The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.

--Socrates

2013_CPAGiveaway_Thumbnail (2)When I started college at the University of Maryland, I went in as a pre-med major, intending to be a pediatrician.  I wanted something meaningful, and I wanted to make a living, but all the sciences did me in. Luckily for me, my sister had just married a CPA and I spoke to him about becoming an accounting major. The rest is history. I thought, “Maybe it’s not the most glamorous job in the world,” but I had a very positive impression of CPAs and my brother-in-law reinforced that positive impression when I spoke to him.

Fast forward to my role at the AICPA, where a key mission is to position CPAs as the premier providers of tax services. This is not just about appearances – it’s about realities. It is why the AICPA Tax Section is the home for CPA tax professionals seeking the edge they need to achieve success – premier status, if you will – through the tax practice resources and the ethical guidance we provide. We believe “premier’ is defined by the high quality services and uncommon ethical conduct CPAs provide; and the AICPA has to do its part in helping CPAs achieve the reality.

But the appearances part is important too. It’s critical. I know that CPAs are the premier tax service providers, but I want the rest of the world to know it too. And so for a number of years, the AICPA has supported a public-facing communications campaign to position CPAs as the premier service provider. Two years ago, that campaign morphed into a social media push to engage consumers to tell their #CPAPOWERED life moment stories of financial success or goals met thanks to their CPA. Last year, the #CPAPOWERED campaign focused on establishing CPAs as essential to small business success and a strong economy. The campaign helped business owners and entrepreneurs understand how much the advice of a CPA can help them start, grow and thrive.

Part of that campaign showcased CPA expertise and tips through the “CPA Secrets to a Better Business” video series. This year, the push when the consuming public has taxes on its mind began on March 4 and will run during busy season. We will again be using the Tax Tip video series on YouTube and Facebook.

In addition to this, we need CPAs to promote themselves as the premier providers as well – to play an important role in leveraging the message. Our Tax Practitioner’s Toolkit is one vehicle to engage in the message. The Toolkit contains important resources to help CPAs: (1) define your firm’s value; (2) engage with clients; and (3) promote your practice to prospective clients, and gives step-by-step advice on how to do it. A detailed, easy-to-use implementation checklist tailored by practice size – sole/small, medium, and large – can help you establish or reinforce a value-centric culture for your practice. 

The #CPAPOWERED campaign has taken the CPA brand message to the marketplace in an innovative and successful way. We have achieved record levels of social media engagement from consumers, exceeding 400,000 likes, shares, comments and retweets. The CPA Secrets to a Better Business video series has been viewed close to 3 million times, and the cpapowered.org microsite has proved to be a popular destination for additional information with more than 14,000 visits.

Brian Koslow, the best-selling author, speaker, and personal coach has said “There is no advertisement as powerful as a positive reputation traveling fast.”   I’m so glad I joined a wonderful profession where our reputation has strong roots and continues to flourish every day. Help us spread the message.  

Edward Karl, Vice President-Taxation, American Institute of CPAs.  

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