Hot-button issues. Tax guru Bob Jennings (CPA, EA, CFP, and RTRP) has been polling past attendees of his CPE seminars about Tax Season 2013. Clearly, tax professionals are still seething. “We sent our survey out and it must have pushed a button because the responses overwhelmed our servers,” says Jennings, taxspeaker.com. The results may not surprise you. But they are sobering nevertheless. He offers new data on: workloads, profits, software, volume of returns handled, retirement plans, and the use of engagement letters and portals. Here are the highlights so far:
Updated with responses from May 2013. The latest update to the topline results for the CPA Trendlines Busy Season Barometer shows additional confirmation of four key findings, beginning with the across-the-board problems of a late-starting season and buggy software. How did your season compare? We’d love to hear. Send your comments, rants raves, ideas, or questions to me here. – Rick Telberg Key Finding #1: Most practitioners, across all size firms, report a tougher 2013 than 2012. (See chart below for comparisons by size of firm.)
Based on 150 top managing partner interviews, authors find four pillars to their success
How many will survive? Join the survey; get the updates. by Rick Telberg CPA Trendlines If you’re having one of the toughest tax seasons in years, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re one in an unusually large crowd. Unless trends reverse in the last four weeks of Tax Season 2013, many practitioners – mainly those practicing solo or in small firms – should be bracing for significant declines in revenues and profits from last year. TAX SEASON TRENDING: BETTER or WORSE THAN LAST YEAR? Some 64% of solo practitioners are reporting “worse” trends than last year, with half of them terming it “much” worse. About 16% are enjoying “better” trends overall. To be sure, small firms may be feeling more [...]
Will this be remembered as another “tax season from hell?” Join the survey; get the updates. by Rick Telberg CPA Trendlines Research The last time tax professionals slogged through a tax season from hell, it was 2008, the financial world was crashing into a million little pieces, and 1 in 4 accountants was reporting disastrous operations. Before that, long-timers might recall 1995, when the IRS deployed a filing fraud crackdown that delayed millions of refunds. MORE TAX SEASON RESEARCH: Tax Pro’s Turn Negative on Busy Season | Busy Season Outlook 2013 | Top Tax Season Trends, Issues and Opportunities This year, with the IRS opening the filing gates not until March 4, could 2013 become another one for the record [...]
Mergers, tech and the economy create a volatile mix in forecasting filing season. by Rick Telberg Join the survey; get the updates. Washington gridlock, last-minute tax changes and continuing economic uncertainty are undermining tax professionals’ outlook for the 2013 filing season, according to new CPA Trendlines survey results. The new survey results shed light on: The changing mood of the profession and it’s leading competitors and decision-makers, The effects of mergers and new technologies, The chief operational, competitive and economic concerns, Expectations for key financial metrics, including revenues, profits and number of clients, and The strategies firms are implementing to cope with the issues and opportunities. Despite political gridlock and economic uncertainty, practitioners are trending increasingly confident about how well [...]
‘Tis the season for new promises and plans. We’ve been asking finance and accounting accounting professionals about what 2013 may hold, and you’ve been answering. To get all the details, click here to join the survey and get the results. Meanwhile, here are a few sample New Year’s resolutions from colleagues and peers. Some may sound all too familiar from resolutions made in 2012. Personally, I’m still working on the lose-15-pounds resolution from 2012, and, er, 2011, 2010, 2009… Oh well. – Rick Telberg President / CEO New Year’s resolutions from finance and accounting professionals: New SEO plan for getting higher ranking on Google. Working with tax resolution professional and preparing returns for them at a split fee. Work more [...]
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No. 1: Big headaches in Form 8949. After getting off to a fast start, many tax practitioners are still smarting from seemingly unnecessary difficulties late in the season, according to findings by CPA Trendlines. Complete findings are published in The CPA Trendlines Practitioner’s Tax Season Performance Review and Outlook Report. (Learn more here)
How do you survive tax season? You’ve been answering, by the hundreds. Here’s a sampling of the responses we’re getting in the busy season barometer poll. Forge ahead. Take personal weekend in middle of March to catch a breather. I workout every evening/night for about 2-3 hours, and the routine seems to eradicate any negativity Exercise and a good meal. Yes been easier this year many clients came in early KEEP ON TOP OF CLIENTS REQUIREMENTS, EVALUATE RISK/RETURN(ADVICE) TRADE OFFS. By learning how to still be breathing on 4/16
High performing single-owner firms now focus on digital strategies. With more than half of solo practitioners planning to step up their marketing activities going into busy season, they will be intensifying their efforts in networking for referrals, spreading word of mouth and providing the best service they can to current clients, according to a new CPA Trendlines analysis. The complete 179-page study, “Marketing and Business Development Strategies at Accounting Firms – 2012 Survey Report, with Commentary and Analysis,” is available for purchase from CPA Trendlines parent Bay Street Group LLC. The study shows trends within the profession, but also distinguishes between high-performing firms and low-performing firms, based on time-tested proprietary CPA Trendlines criteria. In this study, high performing firms are far [...]
Preliminary results show downward pressure on rates and fees as much as 12% in some areas. CPA Trendlines is working with Intuit to track the trends. “This is the first time we’ve seen downward pressure since 2005 when we started this survey,” says Bill Teague at Intuit. “We see the pressures on all hourly rates and even some fixed fees.” In some cases, Teague says, the average rate is lower even if the mode – the price point used by the majority of respondents – remains the same. Early results for hourly bookkeeping show the mode holding at $50, but the average dropping from $64 two years ago to $56. Results from prior-year surveys are available for viewing: here for [...]
Mid-Sized Accounting Firms Step Up Competition for the Heart of the Market. by Rick Telberg No one is fighting harder for every new client and every new dollar than the accounting firms in the middle of the market, according to new CPA Trendlines research. Nationwide, an astonishing 86% of mid-sized firms (those with five to 15 partners or about 51 to 100 employees) have been stepping up their marketing efforts, according to the new study. To be sure, firms of all sizes are increasing their marketing activities — from solosists (about 47%), to 2-to-10-person offices (55%), through 11-to-50-person offices (73%), and the more-than-100-persons offices (77%). But it’s in the 51-to-100-person category that the battle seems most heated these days.
Digital emerging as chief weapon. Results for the new CPA Trendlines study of marketing trends are eye-opening: Accounting firms are rapidly escalating their business-building efforts: 66% of accountants say their firms have been increasing their marketing and business development activities in the last 12 months.