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Small Firms Make a Difference in Unexpected Ways

Small firmI recently heard a moving story about an acquaintance’s father who passed away unexpectedly. Married to his childhood sweetheart for more than 60 years, he was a dedicated father and husband. He had been the manager of his family’s accounts. Upon his death, his widow and family had to set aside their grief to grapple with urgent financial issues, including funeral expenses and insurance matters. Fortunately, a trusted advisor was able to help. The family’s CPA, a small firm practitioner who had known the family for years, was well acquainted with their finances, and immediately came to their aid, offering his technical expertise. The CPA restored order to the family’s accounts and eased their worries. They had peace of mind knowing their CPA was prepared to protect their interests during and after a highly emotional and stressful time.      

Stories like this one unfold every day in CPA firms across America. Whether they’re advising startups on growth opportunities or helping individuals handle life changes, small firm CPAs have a profound impact on their clients, supporting them as they strive for their goals, build for the future or deal with crises as they arise.

As Main Street mainstays, small firms serve their clients in ways that often go beyond the books. Small firm practitioners act as the volunteer treasurers of thousands of nonprofits, and lend a hand to a variety of religious organizations, community teams and clubs. Their practices reflect their communities. I know of a sole practitioner who runs a farm in Eastern Oregon and serves as a trusted advisor to neighboring farmers. Another, located in Alaska, has clients across the state, which requires daylong plane rides to conduct face-to-face meetings.

Small firm practitioners are also represented in a growing array of online and virtual communities. With advancements in technology such as cloud computing and video calling, small firm practitioners are now able to connect with clients who are located not just around the corner, but also around the world.

The AICPA is proud to count more than 40,000 small firms[1] among our members. We celebrate their successes and work to help them be the best they can be. With that in mind, the AICPA has created a new web hub specifically geared toward small firms. The site directs them to resources that can help serve their most pressing needs, whether they involve ensuring a client’s secure retirement, keeping a small business on course or minimizing their tax burden, among many other examples.  

When a client turns to you, the AICPA wants to be sure you’re well prepared to help. The site is designed to offer tools for the issues you’re looking to address, all in one place. Need help getting more visibility in your target market? You’ll find the CPA Marketing Toolkit and the Tax Practitioners Marketing Toolkit on the site. Want advice on common practice concerns? Turn to tools such as my own Small Firm Solutions newsletter and Small Firm Update webcasts. Resources like the PCPS Guide to Strategic Planning can help you set and achieve important practice goals. These are just a few of the tools you’ll find on the site.     

As CPAs conduct their day-to-day activities, they’ll be better positioned to have an impact with the right tools on hand. If you want one-stop access to resources that can further strengthen your individual and business client relationships, keep you ahead of the curve in client needs and industry developments and boost your competitive standing, the AICPA can help. To learn more, visit aicpa.org/smallfirm.  How can we help you make a difference today?

Carl Peterson, Vice President- Small Firms, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants


[1] Firms with 10 CPAs or less.


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