CPA firms: What are your competitors focusing on?

Scenario:  You are an accountant with management responsibility in a small to medium size firm.  You understand the idiosyncrasies related to your practice and the surrounding locale, but when it comes to longer term management strategies it often feels like you are Santiago, Hemingway’s protagonist in The Old Man and the Sea, who stood alone against the hostile forces that surrounded him.

Wouldn’t it be great if you knew what other firm and practice managers were thinking … what they believe are the most important priorities to move their practices and firms forward?

Sageworks’ Advisory Service team recently polled hundreds of our subscribers, asking what they consider to be the most important challenges facing them and their firms. The full results will be available in a few weeks and will detail priorities in staffing, marketing and business development, client service planning, service pricing and billing, and firm member compensation.

Here are some preliminary findings for staffing and managing an accounting firm.


Accounting Firm Staffing Policies

When it comes to staffing, both retention and training & development were the top priorities. This makes sense because not only is it disruptive to lose key contributors, but it is also expensive. HR managers routinely estimate the fully weighted cost of replacement (disruption, loss of productivity, time and cost to find the new hire, potential the new person eventually proves to be unsuitable, cultural integration and training) is roughly equivalent to the position’s annual salary.

This suggests that management is well served to focus closely upon training their winning employees, providing a development path and ensuring lines of communication are open. Give honest reviews, reward excellence, compensate in a manner commensurate with local standards and enjoy the benefits of a loyal, motivated and competent workforce.


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