How Does Your Firm Stack Up?
AICPA’s PCPS in partnership with the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants (TSCPA) and Aon are pleased to announce the launch of the 2014 AICPA PCPS/TSCPA National MAP Survey! If you’re a CPA who wants to compare your firm’s performance to other firms like yours, you should definitely participate in this leading benchmarking survey for the profession!
All CPA firms are invited to participate. There is simply no better way to identify financial performance challenges and determine areas where your firm can improve and build a more profitable and rewarding practice than to compare it to others of a similar size and geography!
The survey is in its 12th year and provides comparison reports by size of firm, region and “top performers” (those firms that ranked in the top 25% net income per partner) in a variety of categories. The results include the averages for firms in the areas assessed so you can identify what it will take for your firm to be “above average” in the categories most important to you. You will be able to determine:
- How your staffing ratios, salary ranges and benefits compare to other firms
- If your firm is comparable to others in terms of being succession ready
- How your firm’s partner compensation and calculation methods compare to other firms
- The top technology trends in firm practice management
Participants will receive a free personalized report that contains an extract of key performance metrics from the survey such as billing rates, salaries, hours charged/compensated, services as a percentage of fees, major income statement statistics and more. PCPS member firms and TSCPA members that complete the survey will receive a more comprehensive personalized report for free. The comprehensive report will include almost every performance metric gathered by the survey. Once the survey is closed and results are tabulated, national and regional summary reports will be available as a free benefit to PCPS members and for purchase by non-PCPS members. Available online is a full listing of the reports offered based on your membership status and any associated costs.
This year, PCPS has partnered with a new vendor to create an enhanced survey which streamlines the process for completion with a time-saving, easy-to-navigate data entry interface. You’ll also find updated content and questions that reflect today’s top practice management issues. And, available exclusively to PCPS members who complete the survey, the new platform will provide dynamic reporting options after survey results are released in the fall, including:
- The ability to manipulate and filter data so you can view metrics that are important to your firm
- The option to easily generate reports that present key performance data in easy-to-read formats that compare your data via line charts and other graphs
- PowerPoint graphs that display both summary data and comparisons to your firm’s data to help you share information with the firms leadership team and employees
Take advantage of this unique benchmarking opportunity by completing the survey by the end of July. Then, look for the results by late September to help you achieve your growth goals and improve firm performance! Use this survey to take your firm above the averages and to the next level of success!
Need more motivation? Read the views of two CPAs in public practice that provide real-life examples of how the AICPA PCPS/TSCPA National MAP Survey enhanced their firm.
Eye Opening Insights about Our Firm’s Performance
By Joel Olbricht, CPA
Our firm has participated in the past three AICPA PCPS/TSCPA National MAP Surveys, but we’ve been receiving invitations to participate for more than a decade. I am the person who manages the financial and other firm metrics so I would receive the survey invitation, open it, get into the survey to complete it and then feel like I didn’t have time and I’d close it. This changed when we set new firm growth and profitability goals and I knew it would be helpful to have a specialized report to compare our firm to top performers in our region and around the country to see how we could improve.
When we received the initial set of results, it was eye opening – and validating and confronting – to see how our firm was doing compared to others. We really benefited from the survey comparatives by region and size of firm, because the data was (and is) so relevant and applicable. And, we are committed to be more than just average. So the top performer analysis has proven especially helpful to determine how we can make our firm better.
The primary issues we wanted to understand initially was how we were doing in our aging, billing rates, chargeable hours, salaries and benefit plans we offer. The data on how partners pay each other and the formulas most commonly used is reassuring to us, too, as we strive to set reasonable compensation targets for ourselves and each other.
We also always wondered if we were way off on our write-downs and it was interesting to see how top performers compared to other size firms and regions. What we discovered was that our write-downs were too high, which pushed us to understand why. Since then, we have created more efficient processes and invested in technology to help us improve efficiency and reduce our write-downs. We also identified the clients where we needed to raise fees and did so.
Now that I know what data the survey is looking for, it takes me less than an hour to complete the survey. The investment of that hour makes the survey results better for all practitioners – and has paid dividends to us. As we benchmark our firm against regional firms and top performers and identify changes to make, we have then leveraged the plethora of PCPS tools and resources available to help us improve. We are better because of what we now know from the information this survey provides!
Joel Olbricht, CPA is the President & CEO of Olbricht Storniolo Group.
A Structure for Continual Improvement
By Jacqueline Davis, CPA
A hidden benefit of participating in the AICPA PCPS/TSCPA National MAP Survey is that it makes us stop and look at our firm and how we’re doing by analyzing our own data and metrics, which is a best practice that all firms should be doing anyway. We then review how we compare to other firms – especially top performers - with our management team and discuss where we’re doing well and where we can improve. We work to identify one or two areas to make changes and set goals as a firm.
We share the high level feedback with our team and acknowledge them for our areas of strength and share our goals for improving. Some examples of areas we are working to improve include establishing target hours or the number of returns processed per week during busy season or increasing our billings for a particular month compared to the prior year. When we hit these goals as a team, we celebrate with massages for everyone or a pizza night.
In addition to these goals, we also use the survey for comparisons in making more basic firm changes. For example, in the last survey we noticed that our occupancy costs stood out because they were higher than average. As a result, we renegotiated our lease and are now saving money (and we expect to do better in that area in this year’s survey!). We try to identify things that are out of the norm that we may not traditionally monitor or consider.
Our PCPS Networking Group uses the information, too, by collating the data from the firms who participate in the survey and providing the results anonymously for us to review and discuss in one of our meetings. The breakout of data by geography and top performers helps us understand how others like us - and those we strive to be like - are working, how much they’re making, how fast they’re growing and their costs and other strategies. Then we can make decisions about what’s important to us and make changes to model firms doing well in those areas. It’s motivating and inspiring to see what firms can achieve and to see our firm improve!
There is not a more relevant benchmarking survey for small- to mid-sized CPA firms and it is very worth the time to complete the survey. Once you start participating in the survey, you will find the data and comparatives you receive invaluable to help you identify the changes you can make to improve your firm and be more successful.
Jacqueline Davis, CPA is a partner at Booth Davis & Associates, PLLC