SURVEY RESULTS: Most Accountants See Better Business Outlook following Presidential Election

election_ballot_box_map_CIRCTrump voters more positive. Clinton voters, not so much.

The Accountants' Business Outlook
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By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines Research

Tax and accounting professionals appear to be breathing a sigh of relief following the U.S. presidential election, with most saying their confidence in the business outlook for their firms and their clients has been strengthened, according to a new CPA Trendlines survey of more than 700 accountants.

But their economic mood also seems to depend on their political mood.

More than 80 percent of the accountants who voted for Republican Donald Trump feel "more confident" about the business outlook for their firms and their clients. Less than 5 percent of Democrat Hillary Clinton voters agree. Instead, More than 60% of Clinton voters feel "less confident."

Nearly a third of Hillary backers—31 percent—are optimistic enough to foresee no change in the business outlook. Only 14 percent of Trump people were pessimistic enough to expect no change.

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Master Change, Master the Future

Happy young businesspeople working at officeHow savvy CPAs turn old problems into new opportunities.

By Rick Telberg
The Accounting Firm Operations and Technology Survey

The tax and accounting profession is entering a new era of competitive battles, marked by a thirst for new clients, a hunger for qualified employees, and a dire need for smarter, faster production processes.

Indeed, the new Accounting Firm Operations and Technology Survey shows that most solo practitioners say “attracting new clients” is their biggest challenge. Among small firms, sized up to 10 persons, it’s “managing workflow.” At all larger firms, “recruiting and retention” is the primary issue.

Clearly, the profession is fighting a three-front war. And some practitioners are trying to win with one hand tied behind their back.

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CPE Trends: Busy Season Ends but Not the Focus on Taxes

Merk
Merk

Practitioners gear up with business tax learning.

Tooling Up for 2017
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By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines Research

Busy season is all about taxes, but according to a survey underway by CPA Trendlines, the Ohio Society of CPAs and consultant Michael Ramos, practitioners are by no means putting taxes away for the year.

https://www.research.net/r/CPE16
Join the survey; get the results

MORE CPE TRENDS:  Why Some CPAs Are Focusing on Accounting & Financial Reporting This Year  |  Top CPE Trends: How Accountants Are Re-Tooling for 2017  |  Mike Ramos on The Training Mindset: Mapping Firm Attitudes to Performance  |  Ohio CPA Society Teams with CPA Trendlines to Improve CPE ROI  |   Ed Mendlowitz on How to Choose the Right CPE  |  Sandi Leyva on Three Ways to Make CPE Work for You  |   Ed Mendlowitz on The Six Rules To Get the Most Out of CPE  |   Mike Ramos on How to Build a Powerhouse Learning Team for Your CPA Firm  |  4 Steps to Get More from Your Training Budget  |  How to Manage CPE by the Numbers  |  Three Tips for Creating Training Metrics  |  High-Impact Learning: 4 Ways to Maximize CPE ROI  |  Four New CPA Opportunities for the New Economy

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Apparently, it’s the constant evolution of tax laws and loopholes that keeps tax prep professionals busy all year. Diane Merk, at one of Clark Schaefer Hackett’s offices in Ohio and Kentucky, says, “I only do tax work and structure my CPE to that area,” and she adds that this year she’ll be needing to focus on “Ohio's potential new changes in the taxable of pass-through entities.”

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Accountants See Economy Improving… But Mainly for Themselves

Accountants bullish on their firms. Not so much on clients. And outright negative on the U.S. Source: CPA Trendlines
Accountants bullish on their firms. Not so much on clients. And outright negative on the U.S. Source: CPA Trendlines

Not so much for their clients. And they're negative on the U.S.

By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines

If anyone has their finger on the pulse of the American economy, it’s America’s CPAs. They’re out there in the trenches of economic activity. They know what’s happening in their nook of the nation. They feel the optimism or pessimism of their clients, the people who make the economy work.

MORE on TAX SEASON for PRO MEMBERS:  Tax Season 2016: Turning I.D. Theft from a Problem into an Opportunity  |   Accountants Speak Out on Politics and the Economy  | Lessons Learned from a Bad Busy Season  |  3 Ways to Save Time During Busy Season  |  Most Tax Professionals Call 2016 Busy Season Much Improved over Last Year | Stress Less This Tax Season  |  Is Tax Season the New Fraud Season?  |  5 Tax Season Motivation Tips  |  Recognize Your Tax Season Resources  |  Tax Season 2016: IRS in Crisis  |  Eliminate Tax Season Excuses  |  Record Pre-Season Hiring Surge: Ready for Biggest Tax Season Ever?  |  16 Qualities of a Good Tax Season Client

And tax season is when CPAs and tax preparers receive an influx of information on how their clients are doing. Some of that information pops up in the CPA Trendlines 2016 Busy Season Survey. And the news is good… well, pretty good. Well, mostly. READ MORE →

Tax Season 2016: Turning ID Theft from a Problem into an Opportunity

Identity theft on the web with credit cards and social security

31% report problems, making it one of the top three issues of the 2016 season. But can accountants turn the problem into a new opportunity?

By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines

With identity theft emerging as one of the biggest problems for tax preparers, their clients, and their friends at the Internal Revenue Service, CPA Trendlines is asking how to turn that problem into an opportunity.

MORE on TAX SEASON for PRO MEMBERS:  Accountants Speak Out on Politics and the Economy  |  Lessons Learned from a Bad Busy Season  |  3 Ways to Save Time During Busy Season  |  Most Tax Professionals Call 2016 Busy Season Much Improved over Last Year | Stress Less This Tax Season  |  Is Tax Season the New Fraud Season?  |  5 Tax Season Motivation Tips  |  Recognize Your Tax Season Resources  |  Tax Season 2016: IRS in Crisis  |  Eliminate Tax Season Excuses  |  Record Pre-Season Hiring Surge: Ready for Biggest Tax Season Ever?  |  16 Qualities of a Good Tax Season Client

After all, security costs money. If clients are made aware that the danger is real, maybe they could be willing to pay a little more if they know their tax preparer is spending resources on security. It might also be an opportunity for practitioners to offer their IT expertise or IT partners to help clients secure their systems. It would be a win-win-lose situation for practitioners, clients, and hackers, respectively. And even if better security doesn’t translate to better revenues, it’s always a good selling point. Clients need to know of the danger and preparers’ efforts to counter it.

Still, it’s a problem for the practitioners we're canvassing even when it doesn’t happen, mostly because of the cost and inconvenience of prevention efforts.

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SURVEY RESULTS: Client Retention Drives Today’s Pricing Strategies

Maximizing revenue comes second. Profits, third.

By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines Research

The CPA Trendlines Pricing Strategy Study
Join the survey. Get the details.

Raising rates is risky. But so is not raising rates. You have to raise them right and at the right time. And not on a willy-nilly whim. You need to think about it. You need a rationale.

In search of reasonable rationales—rationales that work—CPA Trendlines is asking practitioners for the rationale behind their pricing strategy. And they are being generous in their response. Most say that strategies were lacking or could be improved. READ MORE →

CPA Firms Hit the Brakes on Increases in Billing Rates

CPA firm price index through August 2015
CPA firm price index through August 2015

The good news? A lot less volatility.

By CPA Trendlines

After a period of rapid price increases, CPA firms appear to be backing off on rate hikes.

The price index for U.S. CPA firms reached 117.2 in August, representing a 15.1 percent price increase since the January 2005 baseline. This is the second time this year the index has reached this mark, with the other in March, and the highest point except for February’s 117.5. It denotes increases of 0.6 percent for the month and 0.3 percent for the year.

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