Practice Management

A survey of 2,722 CPA firms revealed strong growth during the past two-year period but less progress in succession planning and professional training. According to the 2008 National Management of Accounting Practice survey, 75% of responding firms experienced growth ranging from 1% to 19% from May 2006 through June 2008. Average net client fees per partner rose 10% to $664,847.

“CPA firms continue to do well,” James C. Metzler, AICPA vice president–small firm interests, said in a press release. “Clients go to CPAs to help them weather a troubled economy, and banks may seek greater assurance from practitioners about the companies with which they do business.” With the current financial crisis and changing marketplace conditions, however, practitioners may increasingly find themselves facing more fee competition from other firms and pressure from clients, Metzler said, and firms should consider these factors in their strategic planning.

Thirty-one percent of responding firms reported turnover during 2007, down from 45.6% in the 2006 survey. Only 22% of firms surveyed had a succession plan, and 10% of the smallest firms had a practice continuation agreement to protect their practices in the event of death or a disability that leaves the owner unable to work. Continuing professional education represents about 1% of firms’ expenses.

The biannual MAP survey is a joint project of the AICPA and the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants. The 2008 survey received the support of 41 state societies and the Association for Accounting Administration.

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