Could What's Keeping You Up at Night Reveal a New Path Forward?

This article originally appeared in The Practicing CPA- Feature Focus July 2015. Used by permission.

In this 24/7 world we seem to have too much on our minds.

Unfortunately, this brain jam makes it difficult to turn all those thoughts off at night. Good news, a closer look at some of the things that are keeping you up could actually help you find new ways to address the challenges that you and your firm face.

Top Issues

PCPS just released findings from their 2015 CPA Firm Top Issues Survey.  Although each sized group of firms has its own unique issues, top challenges include: 

  • Staffing

It’s probably no secret that firms of all sizes are struggling to find and keep talented people - those that can perform high-quality services and carry the firm successfully into the future.

  • Succession Planning + Aging of Partners

With retirement on the minds of many firm leaders, succession planning made it onto the top issues list. That’s a significant development considering that, according to the 2014 PCPS/TSCPA National Management of an Accounting Practice Survey, only 6% of firms with $200,000 to under $500,000 in revenues (and only 3% with under $200,000) had a practice continuation agreement.

  • Seasonality + Workload Compression

Coming off another tough busy season and ongoing service issues at the IRS, firms of all sizes expressed this related concern.

  • Bringing in New Clients

Although demand for services appears to be on the uptick, bringing in new clients continues to be on the minds of many practitioners.


Reboot for a New Course of Action

Profound changes across the profession call for new ways of doing things. It’s time to scrap the ’same old, same old’ mentality. Think about it as a reboot. Success will involve finding different approaches to address and deal with tough challenges. That means taking what is troubling you and using it as a catalyst to identify new methods for resolving those troubles.

Here are some ideas to help you get started. Included in each are links to new and improved PCPS resources. You can easily download them and put them to use right away as you consider changing things up in your firm.


1. Rethink Your Take on Talent

  • Is you firm a place that new talent wants to be?

  • What are your leaders doing to successfully engage the firm’s talent?

  • What messages are your professionals conveying about the firm and the work they do?

  • Are your young professionals involved the firm’s recruiting initiatives?

Action steps

Move toward a more individualized workplace

Provide a solid career path that offers a vision for advancement

Take steps to diversify your talent and leadership

  • Add new colleges to your recruiting roster

  • Look to retain industry experts from your target markets

  • Consider a mix of internal advancement, along with talent from the outside

  • AICPA Diversity and Inclusion Resources


2. Reconsider Succession and the Aging of Your Partners

  • Do you have a succession plan in place?

  • Do you have a mandatory retirement age?

  • Have you identified future leaders?

  • How are you grooming future leaders?

Action steps

Understand your options

Create and implement a plan that matches your timing and succession intentions

  • Navigate emerging trends so you can embrace generational differences, while continuing to provide excellent client service

  • Firm inMotion e-Toolkit

  • Train emerging partners and top talent to be solid leaders

  • Gain the entrepreneurial spirit that it takes to continue the legacy of your firm

  • E.D.G.E. Conference


3. Reframe Seasonality and Compression

  • How is your firm most affected by seasonality and compression?

  • Have you identified your firm’s ‘right fit’ clients?

  • Do you know which clients are hindering your firm’s efficiency?

Action steps

Evaluate where you are now

Learn how other practitioners in similar size firms address compression issues

           Practicing CPA

Keep tabs on AICPA advocacy efforts (i.e. efforts to adjust and simplify problematic regulations)

           AICPA Advocacy

4. Reload Approaches to Win and Keep Clients

  • Do you have a Client Advisory Board?

  • What advisory services do you provide that build trust with your clients?

  • How do you start conversations with clients about year-round services that you provide?

Action steps

Form a Client Advisory Board


Identify new service opportunities that resonate and build client trust
PCPS Practice Growth Center:  Trusted Client Adviser Toolbox

Start conversations and reinforce the message about your firm’s year-round tax services
AICPA Tax Practitioner’s Toolkit