Financial and admin operations

Preparing for disaster

One CPA firm is still recovering from a “superstorm” that damaged nine of its 14 offices. Another has constructed a safe room in its new office, which was built after a tornado destroyed its previous office. A third firm is adjusting to the “new normal” in a city forever changed

Clients: The end is near

Evaluating clients annually is good practice management for a professional services firm. A firm’s strategies, areas of practice, and risk profile change over time. As a result, certain clients may no longer be a desirable fit for the firm. Similarly, some client behaviors become problematic and can harm the staff’s

When parties come knocking for client records

CPA firms either maintain or have access to numerous types of client records and related working papers. Requests for access to copies of such records can arise from multiple sources, including current and former clients, lawyers, civil and criminal investigators, lenders, and others. All requests should be made in writing.

How to drive partner accountability and unity

Partner accountability and unity are essential for accounting firms to maximize their productivity and profits. Unfortunately, partner harmony is hard to find, especially at larger firms. Consider the findings of the most recent CPA Firm Top Issues Survey conducted by the AICPA Private Companies Practice Section. The biennial poll of

2012 MAP Survey: Signs of recovery

Accounting firms aren’t all the way back to where they were before the Great Recession, but they are making progress. That’s one of the many findings of note in the 2012 National Management of an Accounting Practice (MAP) survey, sponsored by the AICPA Private Companies Practice Section in association with

Gaining (from) your clients' trust

For decades, CPAs in public practice have laid a foundation of trust with clients by competently handling confidential financial data and performing core services such as tax preparation. Today, forward-thinking CPAs are building on that foundation, expanding their business offerings, nailing down new revenue streams and cementing a more profitable

Planning and paying for partner retirements

John was one of three founding partners in a firm formed 35 years ago. He oversaw the buyout of the other two founding partners and, as managing partner, groomed three young managers as his successors. However, when the time came for these managers to be admitted as partners, two of

Pricing, billing and collecting fees

CPA firms provide invaluable advice to business clients but often struggle to run their own businesses effectively, particularly in the areas of pricing, billing and collections. Failure to set appropriate fees, deliver bills in a timely fashion and collect payment promptly—or even in full—cuts into a firm’s profitability, hurting the

Bridging compensation gaps in a merger

Accounting-firm mergers must overcome numerous obstacles. One of the most common—and challenging—involves compensation and benefits for partners and staff. Merging firms usually have differences in compensation levels, compensation methods and benefits packages. It’s crucial for staff and partner retention that the merging firms combine the varying systems into one without

Retreat to Move Forward

With the slow economy still making times—and dollars—tight, it might seem counterintuitive for a CPA firm to take its staff to the beach for an annual retreat. But handled correctly, such off-site activities can be effective investments of time and money. Here are some ideas for making the most of

Traps for the Unwary in CPA Firm Mergers and Acquisitions

You can’t hold back the demographic tide. In the U.S., another baby boomer turns 60 every eight seconds. This translates into a leadership change in the near future at many CPA firms. Thousands of partners are at or reaching retirement age now and in the next five years, putting a

GAPP Targets Privacy Risks

As of early 2011, 46 states had enacted some form of privacy regulation. In particular, those enacted by Massachusetts and Nevada in 2010 significantly raised the bar in terms of business requirements. Even organizations that have no facilities or personnel in Massachusetts may be subject to the state’s regulations if

Hitting the Target: National Survey Looks at How CPA Firms of All Sizes Stack Up

Practitioners have put their business management skills to the test within their own firms during the past two years to minimize potential damage from the economic downturn, according to a biennial survey conducted by the AICPA’s Private Companies Practice Section in conjunction with the Texas Society of CPAs. The results

Who Would Run Your Firm?

There comes a time when every sole practitioner or small firm owner needs to consider the consequences of a disruption in leadership of his or her CPA practice. Illness, disability, family obligation or death can be devastating for the CPA’s clients, family and employees. Proper planning, however, can mitigate the

CPAs Share Continuation Strategies

Editor's note: Also read "Who Would Run Your Firm?" Feb. 2011, page 40. In August 1988, 48-year-old CPA Jim Feigel was in an accident that left him in a coma for 23 days. “If anything ever happens to me, the first thing you should do is sell the practice,” he

New Investment Adviser Requirements of the Dodd-Frank Act: What CPAs Should Know

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, PL 111-203 (Reform Act,, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in July 2010, will require sweeping changes to virtually all areas of the financial services industry in the United States and will affect a wide variety of

Firm Survey Shows Profitability Preserved Amid Flat Revenues

Despite flat revenues, CPA firms managed to maintain profitability during the past two years, according to the 2010 PCPS/TSCPA National Management of an Accounting Practice (MAP) Survey, a biennial survey conducted by the AICPA’s Private Companies Practice Section and the Texas Society of CPAs. The survey results provide a comprehensive

Project Management for Accountants

Project management is a client-focused process that significantly increases the probability of providing the desired results to the client. It can help an accounting firm plan its resources more effectively and ensure that work is delivered to clients in a timely manner. The project management methodology enables an accounting firm

Get Results: Improve Your Accounting Firm Processes Using Lean Six Sigma

Poor processes directly affect client service and client satisfaction. You see it in delays in completing jobs, responding to client requests, or when a partner fails to communicate a piece of client-related information, causing an unnecessary mistake down the line. Inefficient processes can result in your firm’s inability to bill


6 key areas of change for accountants and auditors

New accounting standards on revenue recognition, leases, and credit losses present implementation challenges. This independently-written report identifies the hurdles that accounting professionals face and provides tips for overcoming the challenges.


How tax reform will impact individual taxpayers

Amy Wang, a CPA who is a senior technical manager for tax advocacy at the AICPA, answers to some of the most common questions on how the new tax reform law will impact individual taxpayers.