CAS practices report growth, optimism for the future

By Kevin Brewer

Client advisory services (CAS) practices are flourishing — and firms branching out into such services are optimistic about the future.

Firms reported a median growth rate of 16% over the previous year in their CAS practices, and they projected 15% growth in the current year, according to a survey released Tuesday by CPA.com and AICPA & CIMA, together as the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. About 72% of all respondents and 81% of top-performing firms believe their pipelines indicate they have strong opportunity for growth.

The 2022 CPA.com & AICPA PCPS Client Advisory Services (CAS) Benchmark Survey polled a cross section of U.S. firms with CAS offerings and collected data from 2021. The survey opened for participation at the AICPA & CIMA ENGAGE conference in June and closed in August.

According to the report, CAS has been the fastest-growing service area in public accounting and is projected to continue that growth. The report reflected a continued double-digit growth trend since the survey began tracking benchmark data in 2018.

"For more than a decade, we've recognized the potential of client advisory services to help CPA firms provide more value for clients through expanded offerings," CPA.com President and CEO Erik Asgeirsson said in a news release. "Today, firms that have been intentional and strategic in their approach to building and scaling their CAS practice are thriving and poised for continued growth."

Other key findings from the survey are:

  • Net client fees per professional maintained solid growth and continued to be a key metric for CAS. Fees increased to $231,217 for top performers (compared with $185,000 in 2020).
  • Dedicated staffing for CAS is rising: 54% of all respondents report that CAS staff do not support other service lines.
  • CAS practices continue to standardize. More than 70% of respondents report using a workflow tool to track and route engagements, a best practice that enables standardization.
  • Innovation and business model changes continue. CAS practices have embraced new approaches. About 26% of all respondents and 33% of top performers were using outsourced bookkeeping services.
  • Remote work appears to be here to stay. Almost half of all respondents work 80% or more remotely, and nearly one-fifth work remotely all the time.

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— To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Kevin Brewer at Kevin.Brewer@aicpa-cima.com.

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