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1. 2014 MAP survey: Firms experience growth, stock up on cash   WebExclusive

BY Jeff Drew
U.S. accounting firms are storing up equity as they prepare for a number of financial challenges over the next few years. That’s one of the findings of the 2014 National Management of an Accounting Practice (MAP) Survey, released Monday by the AICPA Private Companies Practice Section (PCPS) and the Texas Society of CPAs (TSCPA).Nearly 1,750 firms participated in the 2014 edition of the biennial survey, which is the largest benchmarking study of U.S.

2. High-functioning firms  

BY Jennifer Wilson
High-functioning firms have leadership teams that assess situations, develop strategies, and make and execute decisions with relative ease, speed, and success. Others, however, function with a drag that pulls against their momentum, causing the business of leading, managing, and executing to take longer and produce less-than-stellar results. High-functioning firms seem to share the following eight attributes: Operate with vision.

3. Time’s up: The benefits and challenges of moving away from the billable hour  

BY Chris Baysden
Debbi Warden, CPA, CGMA, still remembers exactly why her bookkeeping firm decided to—as she colorfully puts it—jump off a cliff. “It felt as if every other week we were putting dollar signs in front of our clients,” she said of her firm’s previous billing practices. “We are a relationship business.

4. Do's and don'ts of due diligence   CPEDirect

BY Joel Sinkin and Terrence Putney, CPA
This article marks the 12th and final installment in a yearlong look at issues affecting succession for CPA firms. The series started in July with an explanation of why mergers have become a dominant trend in accounting firm succession strategies. The series ends this month with a dive into what should be one of the last stages of an accounting firm merger or sale: the due-diligence period.

5. The culture test  

BY Joel Sinkin and Terrence Putney, CPA
As shown throughout this series, there are many types of succession deals and strategies, each with its own advantages and challenges. In the case of a merger or acquisition facilitating succession, the No. 1 key—and threat—to success is easily identified but not so easily defined. The authors have asked hundreds of managing partners over the years what makes a merger successful.

6. Managing change successfully  

BY Jennifer Wilson
It's often said that the only thing constant in life is change. In today’s organizations, this has never been more evident, as leaders navigate ever-accelerating change in standards, technology, mobility, succession, consolidation, the global economy, cultural values, and more. To successfully manage change, organizational leaders must strategically design, execute, and communicate their change strategy with the same focus and intent that they spend conceiving of the change.

7. How to maximize client retention after a merger  

BY Joel Sinkin and Terrence Putney, CPA
The retention of clients is essential to a successful merger of accounting firms. Most deals are structured so that the payments from the acquiring firm to the selling firm are based, at least in part, on the percentage of clients that stay with the post-merger firm during a specified retention period.

8. Managing owner transition through an owners' agreement  

BY Joel Sinkin and Terrence Putney, CPA
For accounting firms dealing with partner succession, the owners' agreement can be one of the most important tools for (1) managing the transition of ownership and (2) establishing a culture for owner performance. Managing the transition of ownership is usually the reason a firm drafts an agreement in the first place.

9. How to manage internal succession   CPEDirect

BY Joel Sinkin and Terrence Putney, CPA
The success of most accounting firm succession plans rests on the firm’s ability to develop young talent into owners capable of buying out retiring partners and carrying the firm into the future. Unfortunately, many firms have little or no talent ready to assume this role, and many of the firms that do have talented staff on board don’t know how to convert them into owners.This inability to find or recognize young talent who can take the place of retiring owners is the main reason so many firms have to sell to an outsider to finance partner retirements.

10. Alternative deal structures for succession  

BY Joel Sinkin and Terrence Putney, CPA
For CPAs in public practice, the path to retirement usually follows one of two roads—an internal succession or a sale to an external buyer, with the external route offering additional options. This series has covered in detail one of those external paths—the two-stage deal, which is structured to enable the selling practitioner to retain a significant amount of autonomy, control, and income while locking in a succession plan (see “A Two-Stage Solution to Succession Procrastination,” Oct.
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