In this video presentation, accounting thought leader shows clients of CPA firms why they should work with a “CPA Firm of the Future” not a CPA firm of the past.
CPAs are known for being historians. The two service offerings CPAs are best known for, preparing income tax returns and preparing financial statements, are of course historical in nature. However, clients of CPA firms, most notably successful businesses and their owners, and wealthy individuals and families, need more than a recitation of history from their CPAs.
These clients need their CPAs to assist them with making important decisions that look forward, to the future. If the CPA cannot assist in such a manner, then the client is not receiving very much value, if any, from their CPA.
Examples of forward-looking services include: business cash flow and profitability planning, business risk mitigation, real-time financial statements, business process attestation, income tax planning, business succession planning, and family wealth transfer planning. All of these are forward-looking applications.
If your CPA is not performing these, or similar services for you, then your CPA firm is probably a CPA firm of the past. To be relevant in the world-wide economy of the present and the future, CPAs must be able to learn how to move beyond the traditional services of income tax and financial statement preparation.
Here are eight (8) attributes of CPA firms, to help consumers of CPA services become better at identifying whether a CPA firm is a firm of the future, or a firm of the past:
- Paperlessness. Does the CPA firm have a lot of paper and files sitting on desks and on cabinets and on the floor?
- People. Does the CPA firm have racial and gender diversity in their workforce? Does the firm “outsource” certain basic functions? Are the firm partners only male? Does the firm use “flex time” or “job sharing?”
- Work Flow. Does the CPA firm have a clearly articulated process that they use for Project Management, or is the firm’s process based on “the tyranny of the urgent?”
- Technology. Does the CPA firm utilize technology effectively? For example, do they have client portals, and are they “in the cloud?”
- Extreme Seasonality. Does your CPA have time to meet with you in March and April, and in September and October, are does he/she disappear into the black hole of their office during those months?
- Billing by the Hour. Does the CPA firm still bill by the hour, or do they utilize some form of Fixed Pricing, so that you, the client, are both never surprised by a bill and are encouraged to call your CPA with questions.
- Marketing. Can your CPA firm differentiate itself from the competition? Can it articulate its “why?” Or does it define itself by the minimum expectations that a client would have, such as by a mission statement that says, “We are a full-service CPA firm that provides timely and personal service” or “Founded in 1946, we are one of Townsville’s oldest and largest CPA firms.”
- Succession Plan. Does the CPA firm have a coherent business plan, to transfer thought leadership and intellectual capital from the current leading generation to younger generations? Or when your CPA retires, do you have to go find another CPA?
CPA Firms of the Future think seriously about these attributes, and continuously strive to grow and improve in these areas. CPA firms of the past do not. When interviewing CPA firm candidates, ask questions about these important areas, unless you like working with dinosaurs!
Click here to see the full video presentation.