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The Rosenberg Survey: National Study of CPA Firm Statistics

The leading national compendium of CPA firm practice management benchmarks.

THE  barometer for CPA firm practice management.” AccountingToday

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The CPA Industry’s Largest, Most Authoritative Annual Report

WHERE DOES YOUR FIRM RANK?

The Rosenberg MAP Survey is the best-known, most-respected independent study in the profession – for its accuracy, thoroughness and high participation rate.

TOP 10 FINDINGS IN THIS YEAR’S SURVEY

  1. Revenue growth of 7.7% is UP from last year’s 7.0%, hopefully starting an upward trend! As one might imagine, the larger firms lead this trend with higher growth rates than the smaller firms.
  2. Organic growth grew from 4.3% to 5.9%, proving that the accounting profession is really cultivating a focus on business development
  3. The income per partner was $470,000, 6.6% higher than the prior year. Finally, the growth in profitability (6.6%) catching up to the top line growth (7.7%)!
  4. There was a noticeable increase in the percentage of partners over the age of 50 in the smaller firm category (<$2M). From our experience working in the profession, more and more partners at smaller firms are not retiring because their firm doesn’t have a partner to replace them, they don’t want to retire, or the firm simply can’t afford to pay
  5. There was an increase in the percentage of firms, across all firm sizes, that have mandatory retirement provisions. This trend is likely a result of more firms trying to make room for new partners and allowing retiring partners to exit at the top of their
  6. This year once again proves that leverage and rates drive profitability. There are many parts of the survey dedicated to this correlation.
  7. The firms that are in the lowest quartile of performing audit work (as a percentage of fees) actually outperform (in terms of IPP) those firms in the other three quartiles. This comes as no surprise as our profession moves from compliance to advisory.
  8. The percentage of female partners continues the increasing trend and moved from 21% to 23% for all multi-partner firms. A trend we hope to see continue into the future!
  9. There was an increase in the percentage of firms, across all firm sizes, offering investment advisory services. These types of services are a logical extension to the traditional accounting firm offerings and certainly help as firms are trying to add more advisory services.
  10. Finally, those firms in the lowest quartile of the percentage of billable hours during busy season (meaning their work is spread more evenly throughout the year) outperform (in terms of IPP) the other three quartiles.

FIRMS OF ALL SIZES AND REGIONS

  • Firms, sorted by size:

— firms with annual fees >$20M
— firms with annual fees $10M-$20M
— firms with annual fees $2M - $10M
— firms with annual fees <$2M
— sole practitioners

  • 100 benchmarks in all
  • Four different city population ranges
  • Four-year trend analysis
  • Statistics seldom seen in other surveys
  • Research shows which statistics correlate the most with profitability
  • Partner compensation, partner buy-in, and buy-out and partner retirement plans
  • Statistics for CPA-operated financial services practices
  • Executive summary by Marc Rosenberg

COMMENTARY, ANALYSIS and FORECASTS by LEADING AUTHORITIES:

  • Allen Koltin, Koltin Consulting
  • Jeff Pawlow, The Growth Partnership
  • Marc Rosenberg, The Rosenberg Associates
  • Jennifer Wilson, Convergence Coaching
  • Gary Adamson, Adamson Advisory
  • August Aquila, Aquila Global Advisors
  • Gale Crosley, Crosley Company
  • Chris Frederiksen, Frederiksen and Co.
  • Angie Grissom, The Rainmaker Companies
  • Rita Keller, Keller Advisors
  • Roman Kepczyk, Right Networks
  • Art Kuesel, Kuesel Consulting
  • Tamera Loerzel, Convergence Coaching
  • Sarah Johnson Dobek, Inovautus
  • Terry Putney, Transition Advisors
  • Carl George, Carl George Advisory
  • Dan Hood, Accounting Today
  • Carrie Steffen, The Whetstone GroupMichelle Golden River, Fore, LLC

28 KEY DATA POINTS for FIRMS of ALL SIZES

  1. Age of the Partners
  2. Audit Practice Impact on Key Metrics
  3. Bigger Firms and Profitability
  4. Billing Rates of Partners within the Same Population Market
  5. Billing Rates: Do Firms With High Rates Have Lower Realization?
  6. Client Retention: Acquiring a Firm vs. Internal Retirements
  7. Dress Code
  8. Elite Firms Analysis
  9. Gender Mix and Percentage of Female Partners
  10. Financial Services
  11. Managing Partners’ Client Responsibilities
  12. New Partner Buy-In
  13. New Partner Compensation
  14. Non-Equity Partner Position: A Growing Trend
  15. Partner Agreements
  16. Partner Charge Hours and Income per Partner
  17. Partner Compensation Systems
  18. Partner Retirement/Buyout
  19. Partner Retirement Plans: Penalty if clients leave the firm
  20. Partner Retirement Plans: How many firms are making goodwill based payments?
  21. Partner Retirement: Mandatory retirement
  22. Profitability Measurement
  23. Small Cities and Profitability
  24. Staff Billable Hours
  25. Staff to Partner Ratio Correlated to Income Per Partner
  26. States: Profitability and Growth for Certain States
  27. Tax Season Impact on Staff Billable Hours
  28. The Statistics that Correlate Most with Firm Profitability

PROFILE of FIRMS

 314 firms participated in this year’s survey:

  • 34 firms with annual net fees in excess of $20
  • 75 firms with annual net fees of $10–20 million.
  • 97 firms with annual net fees of $5–10 million.
  • 70 firms with annual net fees of $2–5 million.
  • 20 firms with annual net fees under $2 million.
  • 18 firms were sole

Some 89% of the firms in our 2019 survey also participated in 2018.

In terms of the market size (metropolitan population of the county in which the firm resides, plus all collar counties):

  • 164 firms were from very large cities with a population in excess of two million such as Chicago, New York, Atlanta,
  • 53 firms were from other large cities with populations between one and two
  • 60 firms were from markets ranging in population between 250,000 and one
  • 37 firms were from markets of under 250,000.

In regards to geographic dispersion:

  • 92 firms were from Midwestern states (Great Lakes, Dakotas down to Kansas).
  • 59 firms were from Northeastern states (New England down to Pennsylvania).
  • 111 firms were from Southern states (Kentucky, Delaware, and Maryland down to Florida, as far west as Oklahoma and Texas).
  • 52 firms were from Western states (Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, and all states west).

ELITE FIRM ANALYSIS

Many firms tell us that this is one of their favorite sections of our survey. If your firm is serious about being a top firm, you need to know what to shoot for – how the elite firms perform.

Our criterion for the elite is simple. We declare all firms with IPP over $500,000 as "elite." Ninety-two firms cleared this hurdle in the 2019 survey. We have added some additional analysis by looking at the key metrics across firms with IPP over $600,000 as well.

Some key observations of the difference between elite firms and mainstream firms:

  • The average IPP of all 92 elite firms at $756,000 is nearly $306,000 more than the mainstream average. The IPP of the 58 firms with IPP over $600,000 averaged an impressive $883,000
  • You will note in our analysis certain stats and their correlation with income per partner that leverage is one of the most important driving factors. Leverage can be measured in different ways:
    • The staff to partner ratio of the elite firms is 8.8 vs. the mainstream average of 6.1
    • The net fees per equity partner of the elite firms are $2.4 million vs. the mainstream average of $1.6
    • The fees per person of the elite firms are $217,000 vs. the mainstream average of $183,000
  • Elite firms' partner billing rate of $378 is much higher than the mainstream average of $325
  • Note that realization, utilization, and billable hours (stats that are often discussed in the accounting profession) are similar between the elite firms and the mainstream firms

As we show in the correlation between key statistics and profitability, the drivers of income per partner are leverage and rates!

 

Spiral bound, 180 pages. Available with bonus PDF eBook.

The Rosenberg Survey: National Study of CPA Firm Statistics

$500.00$600.00

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