This is the first study of CPA financial planning/investment advisory practices, by Moss Adams and the AICPA. This study draws upon detailed information provided by 431 practices falling into various business models across the country. The growth of CPAs in this practice area has been steady for several decades, with a significant rise in the 1990s, which continued into the new millennium. CPAs are unique in that they are positioned as clients’ trusted advisors and possess the necessary skills to expand their services in this area. While the study is dated in some respects, due to the downturn in the markets and economy over the past year, the content that speaks to challenges and how they are being addressed, best practices of the most successful firms and issues specific to business models, continues to be relevant. Click here to obtain the complete study.
For quick access to a specific section of the study, click on any of the links below:
As advisors to individuals and businesses of all sizes, CPAs enjoy a collective reputation as some of the most trusted in the professional services industry. The Executive Summary contains the highlights of this personal financial planning (PFP) practice study.
CPA financial planning/advisory firms have all of the challenges associated with operating as a financial planning/advisory business. However, they also have the added complexity of being part of a larger business. This section identifies the challenges faced by these firms.
Whether the goal of the firm is to grow to a specific size, level of performance or profitability; to simply allow the owners or partners to live a certain lifestyle; or to achieve many of these in combination, a disciplined approach to business management is the key to success. This section identifies the most successful practices of these firms.
The services offered and the overall sophistication of those service offerings varies significantly from firm to firm in our study. This section offers insight on a variety of business models in a PFP practice.
Of all the participant groups in the study, solo CPA practitioner’s was the largest, making up nearly 40 percent of the sample population. This section offers insights on the sole practitioner business model.
Firms classifying themselves as single-entity providers of both CPA and financial planning services are a further evolution of the solo CPA model. This section offers information about the complexity and marked increase in total revenues characteristic of this business model.
These independent entities, which are fully or partially owned by a CPA firm, subscribe to the most advanced business model among the firms we surveyed. This section describes the burden and responsibility of this business model.
Referral relationships or joint ventures seem to be relatively rare in the industry, with these types of respondents making up our smallest grouping of firms. This section discusses the unique characteristics of this business model.