« Kevin O’Leary Says CPAs Can’t Be Replaced. Take That, Mark Cuban. | Main | Beyond Bad Jokes: What We Learned from Our Dads »

3 Solutions to Firms’ Top Challenges

Find the right peopleYour practice is thriving, but there are some issues that continue to present challenges. Are other firms like yours facing these issues, too? And what trends are other CPAs seeing that you ought to know about?

Practitioners can find the answers to these questions and more in the results from the 2017 Private Companies Practice Section (PCPS) CPA Firm Top Issues Survey . This unique survey, which is conducted every two years, identifies the significant concerns for firms of various sizes and spotlights emerging challenges in practice management. Barry Melancon, President and CEO of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, provided an overview of the survey results yesterday during his Professional Issues Update at the AICPA ENGAGE Conference.

Many of the top issues identified in this year’s survey are consistent with those in the last one, performed in 2015, but there are indications that firms may be on the brink of significant change in terms of how they approach leadership, client service and the firm business model. The three takeaways below highlight some important survey findings, and with each one I’ve included resources that will help practitioners address their challenges.

  1. One word: staffing. Finding qualified talent was the number one issue for firms with two or more professionals, and it even made the top five for solo owners for the first time in recent years. Retaining staff was a major concern for all but sole practitioners, as well. Solve the problem with: Tools from the Staff Development and Firm Culture section of the PCPS Firm inMotion e-Toolkit. These resources can help firms develop a culture that embraces transparency, flexibility, mentoring, coaching and career planning across generations.
  2. Clients are key. Bringing in new clients was a top issue for most size firms, but client retention was not. Firms appear to be confident in current client relationships, but they are focused on attracting a healthy influx of new business. Solve the problem with: The Trusted Client Adviser toolbox. Ask potential clients thought-provoking questions that get to the source of what keeps them awake at night, and identify and prioritize their goals.
  3. The future is now. As the large Baby Boom generation heads into retirement, firms are at different stages in securing a smooth transition to new leadership. They may find challenges along the way, since four of the five firm segments surveyed noted that succession was a top issue. Solve the problem with: Tools from the PCPS Succession Planning Resource Center. These include the Getting Succession Planning on Track guide, a Succession Readiness Assessment along with a comprehensive array of information and guidance.

In addition to asking about current concerns, this year the survey also asked practitioners about issues expected to impact their practices significantly over the next five years. All firm sizes other than sole practitioners noted that staffing was their greatest concern, with technology the next most pressing issue for these respondents. Sole practitioners ranked technology as their greatest concern over the next five years. 

These are just a few of the insights from this year’s survey along with some helpful tools designed to help you address these common challenges. In addition, you may be interested in accessing an expanded commentary containing further analysis. Practitioners can put these results to work and ensure that their strategic planning positions them for whatever issues they may be facing now and in the future.

The AICPA’s Private Companies Practice Section (PCPS) supports CPA firms in the everyday intricacies of running a practice. PCPS partners with firms of all sizes, creating targeted and customizable practice management resources, networking opportunities and is a strong, collective voice within the CPA profession.

Lisa Simpson, CPA, CGMA, Associate Director – Firm Services, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants

Find the right people courtesy of Shutterstock.



Comments are moderated. Please review our Comment Policy before posting.


Subscribe in a reader

Enter your Email:

CPA Letter Daily