What Really Makes CPA Firms Profitable?


The Complete Guide to Maximizing Margins, Earnings, and Net Income

By Marc Rosenberg CPA

Don’t Ask a CPA What Profitability Means

If you asked the president of a Fortune 500 company or the owner of a restaurant to define profitability, they would be able to give a quick, definitive answer. Not so with CPAs.

Surely you’ve heard the story, perhaps apocryphal, of the company that was interviewing for a new CPA firm. Only one question was asked of each candidate: “How much is two plus two?” The firm that won the bid gave the answer, “How much would you like it to be?”

The same can be true of CPA firm profitability. How do we measure it? You would think that the uncontested champions of measuring financial data, CPAs, would have this down to a science. But such is not the case.

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Including the latest benchmarks from the new
Rosenberg MAP Survey


  • The essence of CPA firm profitability
  • Accountability and acting like a partner
  • CPA firm benchmarking
  • Marketing and the bottom line
  • Strong management and leadership
  • The most reliable path to profitability
  • More ways to improve profitability
  • 25 best practices that move firms from good to great
  • What doesn’t seem to be important to firm profitability
  • Partner relations: Happy partners are productive partners
  • 40 great ways to improve CPA firm profitability


See Marc Rosenberg's latest commentary and guidance on CPA Trendlines here
See Marc Rosenberg’s latest commentary and guidance on CPA Trendlines here

“If your firm is not profitable today, there are no easy ways to turn things around. There are few quick fixes. Many of the ideas we’ll present embrace concepts that you may already be familiar with. Properly applied, they work. Some work better than others, and some techniques are preferable to others, depending upon your firm’s current situation. But they do work.

The approaches suggested are based upon my experiences working with over 700 firms. The ideas presented here are not merely my suggestions; they are the techniques being used by the most profitable and successful firms in this country.”

– Marc Rosenberg, CPA


1. The Essence of CPA Firm Profitability

2. CPA Firm Benchmarking

Why We Benchmark
The 3 Steps of Benchmarking
10 Mistakes Firms Make Reading & Compiling MAP statistics
Benchmarking Statistics for CPA Firms

3. Firms > $20 Million in Annual Fees

4. Firms $10-$20 Million in Annual Fees

5. Firms $2-$10 Million in Annual Fees

6. Firms Under $2-$10 Million in Annual Fees

7. By Size of Market

8. By Geographic Region

9. Strong Management and Leadership: The Most Reliable Path to Profitability

The Proper Management Structure and Positions
The Value of Strategic Thinking

10. The 25 Best Practices that Transform Good Firms into Great Firms

11. Partner Relations: Happy Partners are Productive Partners

Call Me Now or Call Me Later
Partner Collegiality vs. Accountability: Can We Have Both?
Pick Your Partners Right to Begin With
When is it Best for Partners to Stay Together and When is it Best to Part
Conflict Resolution
Health and Psychological Issues

12. Accountability and Acting Like a Partner

The “A” Word in Practice Management: Accountability
Ten Time-Tested Partner Accountability Measures

13. Marketing and the Bottom Line

“You Can’t Not Try”
Two Effective Marketing Techniques For Bringing in Business
Niche marketing
Client Satisfaction Surveys
Other Effective Marketing Philosophies and Techniques

14. Other Ways to Improve Profitability

15. What Doesn’t Seem to be Important to Profitability

16. 40 Great Ways to Improve Firm Profitability


CPA Trendlines commentator Marc Rosenberg is a nationally known consultant, author, and speaker on CPA firm management, strategy, and partner issues.

President of his own Chicago-based consulting firm, The Rosenberg Associates, he is the founder of the most authoritative annual survey of mid-sized CPA firm performance statistics in the country, The Rosenberg Survey, also available here from the CPA Trendlines Store. He has consulted with more than 700 firms throughout his 20+ year consulting career.

Accounting Today magazine annually acknowledges Marc Rosenberg as one of the 100 most influential people in the CPA profession and INSIDE Public Accounting has repeatedly recognized him as one of the ten most recommended CPA firm consultants in the country.


Complete your Marc Rosenberg Practice Management Library here.


See Marc Rosenberg’s latest commentary and guidance on CPA Trendlines here 


What Really Makes CPA Firms Profitable?



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