How to Prosper in a Pandemic

Crisis brings needed change and new opportunity.

By Allan Koltin

The most significant changes our profession have seen so far are remote workplaces and, not surprisingly, remote client service. I think the dust has settled at this point and firms understand that these are not flavors of the month, but rather permanent changes to the landscape of our profession.

MORE: Pandemic Lesson: Innovate Faster | Remote Work Success Helps Solve Staffing Shortages | You Like Being Remote, But What About Your Clients? | COVID-19 Shakes Up M&A Activity | SURVEY: We Adapted to Remote Work … Now What?
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It’s fascinating that the COVID pandemic was responsible for speeding up what otherwise would have taken 5-10 years into 5-10 weeks.

In These Turbulent Times, Leaders Must Lead!

cpatrendlines.comSix things you needed to start doing yesterday.

By Allan Koltin

In the face of this unprecedented global pandemic, Leaders must Lead! We need to fill our days with talking to our people, clients, and our families and engaging them in the reality of the situation while at the same time stressing the positive things going on.

RELATED: All CPA Trendlines Special Coronavirus Coverage

I was on a call this morning with a client and I was sharing how wonderful it was to have all three kids back home (they would have been studying abroad, at college, or going to high school) and how nice it was to have family dinners together again. I was also sharing the positives with the kids that their grandparents were healthy, safe, and getting calls from so many family members and how important this was to them. As I was walking the dogs this morning it occurred to me that I heard birds chirping and that I had been “so busy being busy” for the past four decades that beautiful sounds like this or the smell of the morning air were never on my mind. At a deeper level, and to equate it to a sporting event, I feel like the proverbial “scoreboard” has malfunctioned and there is now a new way to keep score, and it is becoming the new normal.


2020 Outlook: Becoming the Most Valuable Advisor

Staying independent? Be bold.

By Allan Koltin
Rosenberg MAP Survey

It amazes me that there are still firms out there unaware of the industry disruption and changes going on in the marketplace.

MORE: Top Three Tips for 2020 Success | 2020 Outlook: Where Do You Want to Be? | 2020 Outlook: Dicey Disruptions | 2020 Outlook: Upstream Mergers | 2020 Outlook: Staffing Gets Creative
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I am envisioning a scenario in which we will see major changes in associations, alliances, and networks from how we know them today.


2019: Shifts in Hiring & Office Space

Also: Firms rethink retirement age.

By Allan Koltin
The Rosenberg Survey

The issue of capitalization has definitely come to the forefront. With all of the changes taking place in the profession, trends ranging from technology (artificial intelligence) to new products and services, it is apparent that firms will need to make significant investments if they want to remain competitive.

MORE FROM THE MAP SURVEY: Efficiency Can Help Prevent Slowdowns | Staff Policies Improve, But Not Mentoring
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This dynamic brings in new issues of overall firm profitability, as well as the potential compression of current partner earnings. It is a classic case of the investment in innovation vs. the wants and needs of partners in terms of compensation.

Firms Focus on Profitable Growth, True Leadership

Coworkers discussing charts in officeALSO: Retirees must transition the relationship, not just the work.

By Allan Koltin
Rosenberg MAP Survey

I see movement of “advanced” lateral talent. While lateral talent has always left the Big 4 firms to pursue career opportunities with local, regional and middle-market national firms, it appears the movement of “advanced” talent is happening at a greater pace.

MORE FROM THE MAP SURVEY: Survey: Many Firms in Transition | Technology Playing Center Stage in CPA Profession
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Positions ranging from manager, senior manager, principal and partner are finding they can accomplish their career goals at a potentially accelerated pace at local, regional and national firms, while also enjoying the culture of these firms. In the past, this type of movement didn’t take place as often, as many of these individuals completely left public accounting when they left the Big 4.

SURVEY RESULTS: Accountability, Equity, Compensation Are Concerns

Risk takers are being recognized.

By Allen Koltin
The Rosenberg MAP Survey

Looking back to 2015, first and foremost remains the human capital challenge.

MORE FROM THE SURVEY: MAP Survey Top 10 Findings | CPA Firm Revenues Rise a Hefty 8%
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Firms are gearing up the financial and people resources around recruiting in ways I’ve never seen before. Interestingly it’s not so much at the entry level but rather at the experienced hires all the way up to lateral-level senior managers and partners.

Back to the Future: 30 Years of Change in the Profession

Business Success AbstractEnduring factors: The talent of our professionals in delivering value to our clients. 

Click to see 1988 report
Click to read 1988 report

By Allan Koltin

Recently my clients, Tony Frabotta and Rick David of UHY Advisors, forwarded to me the Summer 1988 issue of The PDI Report. Tongue in cheek, they said to me they were surprised to see that there was another Allan Koltin who also did consulting to the accounting profession. (Needless to say, they were poking fun at me based on my 1988 photo versus how I appear today!)

This issue of The PDI Report was not just any issue; it was an issue in which we gathered together the country’s leading consultants (similar to how I participate in The Advisory Board and New Horizons Group today) and aired their views on the profession and industry trends through what was then called the First Annual Consultants Roundtable.

Some of the issues discussed almost three decades ago are still what we talk about today, including: industry specialization, quality service, the importance of great leadership and management, value billing, and the significance of having a firm vision, mission and core values.

It’s also interesting that back then a mid-sized firm was defined as a firm with $1 million to $10 million in revenues, whereas today a mid-sized firm probably would start at $10 million and potentially go up to $36 million (the cutoff point for being a top 100 firm).

That being said, the following are items that have completely changed since that time or weren’t even on the table for discussion: READ MORE →

Talent Wars Go from White Gloves to Boxing Gloves


They say “past results are no indication of future performance.” Maybe. Maybe not. But if anyone should know, it’s our panel of experts, their comments drawn from the new edition of The Rosenberg MAP Survey. These are their bullet points and comments, verbatim, looking back at the last 12 months and looking ahead to 2016. – Rick Telberg, CEO

By Allan Koltin
Koltin Consulting Group

Lessons from 2015:

The past 12 months have shown positive growth for most firms. It’s coming more in consulting and value added services.

More on the  2016 Outlook & Forecast: CPA Firm Growth Rates Hit a Wall  |  The Five Treacherous Factors Hobbling Today’s CPA Firm  |  Sam Allred: Change Agents Needed  |  Tamera Loerzl on Growth, Succession Plans Critical for Firms  |  Get the full report: The Rosenberg Map Survey

There has been a lot of discussion regarding the three “Big C’s” (compensation, capital and [deferred] compensation at firms). There has also been more rethinking of traditional bonus programs for staff…paying everyone something has become an entitlement (and doesn’t really leave enough for the stars) vs. just giving a bonus to those who “really hit it out of the park.”

The war on talent has gone from white gloves off to boxing gloves on. Firms are also getting much better at

  • defining goals,
  • expectations of performance and
  • having leadership hold partners accountable for performance.

Forecast for 2016: