Today's Features

Why Scanning Procedures Matter

CPAs’ top picks: Fujitsu fi and  Canon DR.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

For the next few years, it is anticipated that accounting firm clients will continue to deliver a significant amount of their organizers and supporting tax documents to the firm in a physical format. To utilize this information in a paperless environment, it must be effectively scanned and managed at the lowest possible cost.

MORE: Digital Tax Workflow Requires a System, Not Projects | Who Deletes Documents and When? | Capture Firm Knowledge on an Intranet | SURVEY: How Many Firms Back Up Data to the Internet? | The New Risks in Cloud Efficiencies | SURVEY: How Many Firms Use Unified Messaging? | Is It Time to Update Your Offsite Backups?
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Early paperless adopters scanned the tax return and the supporting documents at the back end of the process when a return was complete. This is still usually the first step when firms transition from a completely manual environment.

Merger Mania: Hot and Getting Hotter

Half of all firms may be in play. Is yours?

New CPA Trendlines survey says: One-third of accountants term the M&A market more than just moderately "active."
77% of accountants term today's M&A market at least "moderately active," including 33% who say it's "very" or "extremely" hot. (CPA Trendlines Research)

By CPA Trendlines Research

Hold on to your hat! A new tidal wave of mergers and acquisitions is about to swamp the tax and accounting business from sea to shining sea.

Three-quarters of tax and accounting professionals are calling the current M&A market for accounting firms as “active,” with 33 percent of them terming it “very” or “extremely” active, according to the new CPA Trendlines Mergers & Acquisitions Survey, conducted in conjunction with Capstone Marketing.

The survey, which delves into the attitudes and behaviors of the M&A phenomenon like no other study, is yielding a raft of surprising findings.
Join the survey. Get the results.


Accountants Gear Up Marketing Efforts in Battle for New Business

Views from the frontlines, clockwise from top left, Canales, Raml, Morgese, Reinhard, Walker

Our exclusive new study shows intensifying competition for good clients.
Join the Survey. Get the Results

By CPA Trendlines Research
Gear Up for Growth: The Marketing Trends Manual for Accountants

The American economy is booming, the tax code is changing, and there’s a lot of new and expanding business for tax and accounting firms to serve.

So it’s no surprise that firms are ramping up their marketing efforts to compete for the bounty that’s out there.

About 73 percent of firms are planning additional increases in their marketing efforts, according to "Gear Up for Growth: The Marketing Trends Manual for Accountants," conducted in collaboration with Capstone Marketing. Barely 4% are cutting back.

The survey remains open and participants receive a special executive summary of the topline results at no charge, just for taking the survey. Join the survey. Get the results


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Six New Rules for Smarter Tech Spending

Plus: Topline findings and recommendations for firms of every size from the new Accounting Firm Operations and Technology Survey.

By Brian Tankersley
Accounting Firm Operations and Technology Survey

Many practitioners think that CPA firm information technology is easy, and the really hard work is done with people who have large databases, etc. Nothing could be further from the truth, as it would be normal for a staff tax preparer to have as many as 12 applications open at once.

More from the AFOT Survey:  Top Video-Conferencing Tools: GoToMeeting, Skype |  3 Monitors the New Standard |  Ready for a New Laptop?Dell Gains on Laptop RivalsWhen to Replace Your Desktop PC?Accountants’ Favorite Desktop PCWho’s Still Using Windows 7?Cisco, SonicWall Top Firewall ChoicesHow Firms Manage Mobile Devices

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Very few things are as important to your firm’s effectiveness and efficiency than the reliability and effectiveness of your technology.

Some general guidance on how to approach IT in your firm includes the following. READ MORE →

Finding New Opportunity in Compliance Services

A new recipe for the secret sauce of success.

By Rob Nixon

Statutory compliance or "have to" annual accounting is mandated by the government as a task you need to do with your clients.

MORE ON STRATEGY: The World Is Flat | Will the Internet Replace CPAs? | How Offshoring Is Shaking Up Accounting | The Profession Disrupted: Compliance Commoditized
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The main reason the government agencies want you to do this task is so you can accurately (or thereabouts) collect the right amount of money for them. The government agencies are not that interested in the accounting profession.

The secondary reason is to check that your clients are complying with their rules. The government is using you as an intermediary. They are outsourcing their job to you. READ MORE →

4 Firm Benefits of Sponsoring Women as Leaders

Purple No. 4 billiard ballWomen leaders provide 6 advantages to the market and 9 benefits for their sponsors.

By Ida O. Abbott
Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know

Most male leaders today under­stand how important it is to keep high-performing women in the pipeline and help them achieve their potential within the organization.

MORE ON SPONSORING WOMEN FOR LEADERSHIP: Being the Best Means Including Women | Not Mentoring, Sponsoring | How to Help Your Protégée Project the Right Image | How to Promote Your Protégée to Coworkers

These men are genuinely concerned about their firms’ inability to retain and advance the women they hire because having a substantial number of women leaders is a demonstrably significant benefit to the company, while a lack of gender diversity at the top of organizations can be very costly to the bottom line.

The Tax Practice Traffic Cop

illustration of traffic lightAuto-nagging isn't always enough.

By Frank Stitely
The Relentless CPA

One of your roles as CEO is chief traffic cop. You keep the flow of returns moving along the information superhighway that is your workflow system. You manage the managers. You remove process bottlenecks. You soothe irritable clients.

MORE: The Land Mines in Tax Returns | How to Teach Reviewing and Time Management | 4 Steps to Take Before Next Tax Season | Some Uncommon Advice on Hiring Full-Time Staff | What Goes Into a Client Project? | The Value-Pricing Con Job | The 21st-Century CPA Firm | Ruthlessly Efficient Workflow Management
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I live in 15-minute increments during tax season. There are four things I do over and over and over again:

Beyond Email: New Digital Tools

Screwdriver and wrenchThe top 3 remote screen control tools to help clients.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless

One of the most critical steps in transitioning a firm to a “paperless” environment is capturing information in a digital format at its “root” source as that information enters the firm.

MORE: Why Scanning Procedures Matter | Digital Tax Workflow Requires a System, Not Projects | SURVEY: 60% of Firms Employ Remote Access Tools | Collaboration Should Tie In Messaging
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At the base level, this means having clients provide you information in a digital format, which can be done via email, digital fax or through a portal rather than with a physical document. While email is currently the most prevalent tool utilized by clients, it is anticipated the security concerns will help clients transition toward portals.

Most New College Grads Plan to Start Their Own Businesses

But first, they need to pay off their student loans. Bonus: What Millennials want in a first job.

By CPA Trendlines Research

As they prepare to enter the workforce, 70 percent of young adult job seekers say the freedom of being their own boss is worth more than the benefit of job security working for someone else.

Additionally, 53 percent say they are likely to start their own business in the future, according to new research from the AICPA, which took the opportunity to promote CPA services to the wanna-be entrepreneurs.

Although the new study has no data on CPA-bound graduates, it provides some insight into Millenials' plans both as potential clients and as staffers.


Why Firms Merge: Hint, It’s Not for the Clients

Survey shows few firms will be left untouched today's M&A tsunami.

By CPA Trendlines Research

Roughly 7 in 10 accountants have been through a merger.
Been through a merger yet? Roughly 7 in 10 accountants have, and the signs point to even more M&A activity.

The world of accounting firm mergers is churning, and whether you’re in the market for a deal or not, the frenzy will affect your practice.

A third of accountants see a very active or extremely active M&A market in the works, and more than half say the trend is accelerating, according to the new CPA Trendlines Mergers & Acquisitions Survey, conducted in conjunction with Capstone Marketing.

The survey, which delves into the attitudes and behaviors of the M&A phenomenon like no other study, is yielding a raft of surprising findings.
Join the survey. Get the results.

Your competition and client market are going to shift around, with smaller firms disappearing, then popping up inside bigger firms, and clients dragged here and there, some of them looking for new CPAs. And if you’re scouting for talent, it could get hard to rope them in.


Casinos Deploy A.I. for an Even Better House Advantage

Man crossing fingers while looking at casino website on tabletPublic health hazard or just fantastic marketing?

By Rick Richardson

Casinos and gambling websites, already adept at tilting long-term odds in their favor, are getting a leg up from technology that could inject even more certainty into their profit calculations.

MORE TECH THIS WEEK: Anti-Robocall Legislation Sails Through House in Landslide Vote | Go Off-Grid with Satellite System Iridium GO! | Microsoft and Oracle Join Cloud Forces to Take on Amazon | Salesforce Buys Data Visualization Company Tableau | Flying Taxis Could Beat Cars for Efficiency
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The catch: Experts worry that tweaks nudging gamers to play more – and bet bigger – could propel some toward excess and addiction.

How to Be ’the Other Guy’s Accountant’

9 concrete tips.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

I’ve written about wanting to always be the “other guy’s accountant.” I received a number of calls and emails asking how I do it, so here is a followup.

MORE: I Always Want to be ’The Other Guy’s Accountant’ | Some Mistakes I Made | Growing with a Client | Getting a Referral from an Adversary | Secret Success Formula: E=fs4Uh
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No matter what client I meet with and no matter what the reason, I try to engage them to find out what’s on their mind.

The Partner Comp Battleground

Businesswoman holding giant dollar symbolWho decides and how, including setting and monitoring goals.

By Bill Reeb

Previously we reviewed the goal-setting process, introduced how the managing partner should orchestrate the partner goal-setting process and discussed why the goals should be based on normal expectations of any partner rather than on the exceptional performance of a specific partner. Now let's discuss who is in charge of what parts of the compensation-setting process and more.

MORE: If You Don’t Eat What You Kill, What Do You Eat? | 3 Ways to Emphasize the One-Firm Concept | 8 Steps for a Successful Change Process | Building Competency on Every Level | Change Happens: How to Master It.
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Who’s in charge of what parts of compensation?

Once the decision has been made to implement systemic changes to hold partners accountable to specific performance expectations rather just relying on everyone to put in a self-proclaimed “good day’s work,” the next battleground is how compensation is determined and who is responsible for which parts of the process.


Five Key Decisions for Your Exit Strategy

The big issues owners would rather ignore – until it's too late.

By Brannon Poe

We always hear about the lack of succession planning for CPA practice owners, but we find that a few key planning pieces can make a huge difference.

In fact, we get a lot of calls from owners who are three to five years away from selling. The key issues really don’t take a tremendous amount of time or complex planning. Most of the difficult planning issues are the ones that only owners can answer anyway. A little guidance coupled with common sense will generally pave the way to a smooth succession.

Here are five key areas of succession planning that we most commonly encounter: READ MORE →

Hiring Trends: Accounting Hits 4.2% Expansion Rate

Click for more

Payroll services, women continue to do well.

Get more from the "Talent, Career, and Growth Strategies: Job Satisfaction and Hiring Trends Tracking Poll:" Join the survey. Get the results.

By Beth Bellor

Slow but steady growth is the trend for most of the accounting profession, according to the latest research from CPA Trendlines.

MORE ON JOBS: Hiring Trends Flash Warning Signs of Slowdown in Tax & Accounting | CHARTS: Tax & Accounting Among Biggest Jobs Creators in U.S.
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In this report, CPA Trendlines highlights:

  • Current hiring trends in each of the bookkeeping, payroll, tax and CPA segments of the industry (all data seasonally adjusted)
  • Average hourly wages for key segments
  • Typical hours worked per week
  • Trends concerning women in the accounting workforce


Outsource or In-House? How Does Your Marketing Get Done?

Three must-have marketing functions for every accountant.

By Sandi Leyva

The function of marketing in accounting firms has evolved from nonexistence in the 1970s, when it was not permitted, to today’s world of multiple channels and options. But accounting firms have been much slower than other small businesses to create marketing departments in their business models.

If you’re curious to see the types of marketing functions other tax and accounting firms are using and whether they are outsourcing them or using in-house resources, take our survey, and we’ll send you the results.

Join the "Get New Clients" Survey. Get the Results