29 Things Smart Firms Do

Happy multi-ethnic business team with thumbs up in the officeWhat the best firms already know.

By Rick Telberg
The Rosenberg Survey

CPA Trendlines finds a wealth of information in the new Rosenberg Survey, the leading national compendium of financial and operating statistics for CPA firms. A host of consultants points out some of the things they see CPA firms doing right and wrong.

Here are some of the rights.


Staff Pay: Problem or Solution?

Probing the roots of the so-called staffing crisis.

By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines

Lagging pay raises and a dearth of top talent appears to be contributing to astonishing turnover rates, recurring staff shortages, and even profit squeezes, according to a new CPA Trendlines analysis.

RELATED: Retention, Retention, Retention  |  SURVEY: Getting Staff up to Snuff  |  Tax Shops Cut Staff by 10%  |  Benefits, Perks, and Incentives: The Happy-Packs of Employee Satisfaction  |  Salary Survey: Top Skills Getting Top Pay  |  SURVEY: Three Reasons To Be Bullish on CPA Firms  |

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Accounting professionals have every right to expect excellent compensation. They work very hard, they need a huge body of knowledge, their ranks barely fill available jobs, and the firms that hire them are desperate to attract and retain them. It shows.


Retention, Retention, Retention

Source: Accounting Principals

Four tactics for keeping the best talent, from a new salary survey.

By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines

The three most important words in practice management today are

  1. Retention
  2. Retention, and
  3. Retention.

More:  Benefits, Perks, and Incentives: The Happy-Packs of Employee Satisfaction  |  Salary Survey: Top Skills Getting Top Pay  |  Deciding How to Allocate Partner Income  |  Accounting Wages Set New Record  |  Solve the Partner Comp Problem  |

See more in Pay & Compensation and Talent Managment

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High turnover has practically become synonymous with the larger public accounting firms, with turnover rates reaching as high as 30 percent. The AICPA Top Issues Survey says quality staff ranks as the top concern for U.S. accounting firms, hitting number one for the first time post-recession in 2015, and among the top ever since.


Mergers vs. Clients: Winners and Losers

As firms pursue M&A at any cost, who's taking care of the clients?

2008-2017: Two years of slowdowns in organic growth rates signal a bevy of underlying problems. (Rosenberg Survey)

By Rick Telberg
Rosenberg Survey

Golden and Loerzel: Problems in merger strategies

The many challenges tax and accounting firms face today can be daunting:

  • Accelerating changes in technology (now reaching beyond blockchain to the frontiers of artificial intelligence)
  • Staffing shortages (not just a rarity of professionals but too few up to speed on regs and tech)
  • A new generation (young professionals who expect flex time, time off, telecommuting, fewer hours, and similar perks and benefits)
  • An old generation (baby boomer partners working more years but getting older nonetheless)
  • Increased competition crossed with ever-evolving marketing media (a battlefield unknown to people trained only in accountancy)
  • The evolution of auditing (or is it an ongoing revolution?)
  • New client opportunities (maximizing potential of niches, IT service, consultation, etc.)

Practitioners in firms large and small are doing their best to meet the challenges, but meeting challenges can divert energy and effort from actually growing a business.

And merger mania may be to blame.


Benefits, Perks, and Incentives: The Happy-Packs of Employee Satisfaction

How CPA firms can muscle up in the war for talent.

By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines

It takes more than a steady paycheck to attract new talent and keep good staff happy in today’s tight candidate market. But there's a huge gap between what firms are offering and what top candidates expect, according to a CPA Trendlines analysis of a new nationwide compensation study.

In a new survey of the most common benefits, perks, and incentives offered by companies and accounting firms, Robert Half, the nationwide recruiting agency, finds many tax, accounting, and finance employers are offering less than competitive benefits, perks, and incentives.

In a war for talent, you need all the ammunition you can get. Accounting and audit firms work with high-caliber professionals. These professionals are looking for packages. Salaries are a good start, but firms that want to attract and retain the best need to consider what really appeals to them.

What do candidates want and what are firms offering? Here are the details:


Salary Survey: Top Skills Getting Top Pay

Public accounting starting salaries (Robert Half)

Bonus Checklist: Five keys to winning the talent wars.

By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines

The digital transformation of the accounting profession is creating a surge in demand for high-skilled, business-savvy professionals, and firms are clearly willing to pay top dollar for the best candidates, according to a CPA Trendlines analysis of new research.

Pay rates and headcounts appear to be rising in tandem at leading firms, according to data gathered by one of the leading recruiters in the business.


CPAs Converge for #AccountingShowNY

New Accounting & Finance Show launches.

By Rick Telberg

Thousands of accountants and finance executives are gathering in New York this week for the inaugural launch of the new Accounting & Finance Show produced by Terrapinn Holdings, which has completely revamped the meeting since acquiring it last year from Flagg Management.

Since so many of the headline speakers are part of the CPA Trendlines brain trust, the event offers a special opportunity to meet some of the profession's most renowned commentators and experts – live and in-person.

See the CPA Trendlines authors and experts headlining the new show

This year's two-day event boasts more than 50 exhibitors, 150 speakers, and 100 hours of CPE, innovatively broken into short, 20-minute sessions.

The West Coast version of the same event is scheduled two weeks later, July 25-26, at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

SURVEY: New Tax Law Inflicts New Pains on Busy Season Practitioners

Blame the clients.

By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines

Change and uncertainty are constants in the tax prep business, and this year’s busy season indicates no exception. This tended to be a good year, according to the annual CPA Trendlines Busy Season Barometer, with a majority of America’s CPAs foreseeing a better than average busy season.

See more Tax Season 2018 coverage here

But 31 percent see themselves suffering a worse season. Their definition of “worse,” however, swung between two opposites. Mosty of it boiled down to clients – late, unprepared, annoying, questioning, fee-resisting clients. READ MORE →

Busy Season 2018: How Good Can It Get?

Join the survey. Get the results.

More work, more clients, more fees, more profits. So who's complaining?

By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines

Despite beginning in chaos and uncertainty with the biggest tax-law change in three decades, Busy Season 2018 may go down as a banner year in the books for the tax profession – one of the best ever, according to the annual CPA Trendlines Busy Season Barometer.


Kathy J. Scroggs, of Scroggs & Associates in Montecito, Calif., says, “My team is working like a well-tuned grand piano.”

Almost half of all CPAs report a busy season better than last year, with more work and higher profits. Additionally, two-thirds cite gains in revenue and in the number of clients.

One tax practitioner, reporting a “much better year,” is riding a wave of shifting clientele. “I'm having more people coming in to prepare and use e-file, more than last year,” he tells CPA Trendlines, “especially new business owners opening LLCs.”


IRS in Retreat from Communities

Disappearing brick-and-mortar offices undermine voluntary compliance, raising IRS costs.

By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines

In case you haven’t noticed, the Internal Revenue Service has been retreating from local communities.

SPECIAL REPORT – Fixing the IRS: IRS #FAILs at Online Services Spell Problems for Professionals | Tax Accountants Fill the Breach of a Failing IRS | Beware the EZ Way Out | Can the IRS Improve Its Phone Service? | When Clients Face ‘Unreal’ IRS Audits | IRS Warns about Private Debt Collectors for Tax Season 2018  | Underfunded IRS Swamped with Problems | IRS in Retreat from Communities | Military Personnel Face New Battles at Home: The IRS | As New Economy Surges, IRS Falls Further Behind | Is the IRS Winning the Battle Against Identity Theft? | IRS Mulls Raising Fees to Cover Budget Shortfalls  |

More at taxtrendlines.com

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Today it has outreach offices in only 33 states and the District of Columbia. Private sector tax preparers are about as close to the IRS as most taxpayers can get.


SURVEY: New Tax Law Roils Busy Season

Q: How's busy season so far?

How some savvy CPAs turn confusion into new billings.

Join the survey, get the results

By Rick Telberg
CPA Trendlines Research

The so-called Tax Cut and Jobs Act won't officially take effect until next year, but professionals are already reporting that it's causing problems and depressing their forecasts for this year's busy season results.

MORE ON TAX SEASON:  Tax Pros Keep Edge in E-Filings  |    Half of E-Filings Go Through Tax Pros | David Bergstein on Tax Season | Tax Accountants Fill the Breach of a Failing IRS | New Tax Law Roils Busy Season 2018 | Beware the EZ Way Out When Clients Face ‘Unreal’ IRS Audits | Underfunded IRS Swamped with Problems

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Early soundings from the annual CPA Trendlines Busy Season Barometer show that 30% of practitioners are finding more trouble this year than last year – and they blame it on the new tax law.

To be sure, many others are finding new opportunities instead, and each firm, practice, and book of business is being affected differently.