Know Pain Know Gain 

    Know Pain Know GainAs you scramble through another busy day tending to client needs, what kinds of concerns are buzzing through the back of your mind?  Is your practice stuck in neutral, are you looking for ways to grow your practice?  Are you finding it a challenge to find and keep quality staff?  You are not alone.  Firms everywhere are grappling with similar challenges according to the recent results of the 2013 PCPS CPA Firm Top Issues Survey, a landmark barometer of the challenges that are keeping CPAs up at night.  This survey provides a laser focus on the hottest topics in each firm size segment, making it an excellent indicator of the chief concerns for practitioners.  The survey responses are categorized by firm size, with separate top five issues for sole owners, firms with 2 to 5 professionals, 6 to 10 professionals, 11 to 20 professionals, or 21 or more professionals.  PCPS conducts the survey every two years to update CPAs on the hot topics they should be following and to identify the issues that are causing practitioners the most pain so that PCPS is better positioned to serve the needs of their members. 

    How can you tackle the pain points that are top of mind and lay the groundwork for your firm’s success?  Gain momentum with targeted solutions - check out the below list of issues and related resources that appeared most frequently on the 2013 survey.

    How can I win more business?  Practice growth landed as a top issue for firms of all sizes.  Practitioners are beginning to focus more heavily on client retention and bringing in new clients after the slowdown in demand during the recession. 

    • Get the word out and reinforce your value about all the services and knowledge you provide by using the Tax Practitioner's Toolkit.
    • Use the established process and associated tools in the Trusted Business Advisor 2.0 Toolbox to identify new service opportunities that will resonate and build trust with current clients.

    How can I find staff with experience and how do I keep them?  Staffing is a particularly competitive area and is only getting more challenging as the number of accounting graduates continue to rise.

    • Use the PCPS Firm Competency Model to solidify job descriptions, clarify expectations and provide a vision for advancement.
    • Expand your outreach as there are many talented underrepresented minorities within the profession.  Consider using the AICPA generation and diversity resources to set you apart in the recruitment market and build a reputation as a firm that offers all professionals a solid career path.

    How can I keep up with the overwhelming changes and complexity of tax law?  It’s no secret that tax laws only get more cumbersome with each passing year.

    • Stay updated on current tax issues, court decisions, recent legislation and AICPA advocacy efforts by subscribing to the Tax E-Alerts available to AICPA tax section members.
    • Use the PCPS Health Care Reform Toolkit to educate your staff and prepare your clients for the impacts of upcoming health care reform. 

    How can I get all my partners to march to the same drummer?  Firms noted that partner accountability and unity is a current concern, perhaps because the recession underscored the importance of pulling together.

    • Take time for owner retreats to focus on strategic planning and use the PCPS Partner Accountability and Unity Guide and Tools for insights on how to best plan your firm’s direction while enhancing partner performance and increasing accountability.
    • Conduct your own ‘future forum’ using step-by-step assistance offered in the PCPS CPA Horizons 2025 Toolkit which challenges all partners to develop a unified strategic planning vision.

    How can I reduce stress and tackle workload compression?  Seasonality, complexity, and excessive demands are continuing factors of stress for small firms.

    How can I address the issue of succession and create a plan for the future?  While succession issues are on the minds of practitioners, a written succession plan has yet to be executed in many firms.

    • The AICPA Succession Summit includes interactive workshops with expert advice to guide you through editing and/or developing and implementing a succession plan.
    • The PCPS Succession Planning Resource Center will assist you in understanding your options and creating and implementing a plan through templates and checklists.

    In the other articles in this issue of The Practicing CPA, you’ll find insights from CPAs in a sole practice, and a small, medium and large firm on how they addressed the issues that seemed top of mind for many practitioners in their size segments.  If you want more details on easing the pain due to issues in your firm review the 2013 PCPS CPA Firm Top Issues Commentary which provides a full analysis of the challenges that appeared most often and tips on how to address them.


    Sole Practitioner

    Small Firm
    Medium Firm
    Large Firm

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