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What are you doing to replace your aging clients?

July 15, 2013

We hear and talk a lot about CPA firm partner retirement age. The great debate going on right now in the AT LinkedIn Group is whether or not it should be mandatory. While I think there are valid points on both sides of this argument, I think CPA firms are missing a bigger issue that parallels this: GROWTH.

Just as CPA firms are faced with aging leadership, so are your clients. While many firms are working to grow their firms, I still see many that aren’t. Transitioning the leadership (and the clients) only works well if you have clients to transition. After all, that is often what funds your retirement.

Clients don’t stick with you for multiple lifetimes anymore. Client retention requires work—it’s not an assumed thing. Today, CPA firms should be working diligently to secure and replace their client relationships. Here are a few things to consider:

Build relationships across the client’s organization. As your clients transition their leadership teams, they will be bringing on people that will be the next leaders of their organization. Your next generation of leaders should be building relationships with their counterparts to help secure those relationships. If you aren’t doing it, someone else will be.

Bring on new clients. There has to be a proactive and concerted effort by everyone in the firm to bring on new clients. It can’t just be one or two rainmakers. Many businesses that exist now will most likely dissolve or merge with the transition of leadership over the next 15 years. You will need revenue to replace those businesses.

Attract new entrepreneurs. There is a wave of new entrepreneurs opening up businesses. Some of these include the talent that didn’t have the opportunity to progress in their CPA firms. Either way, these folks are expecting a new way of doing things.

Being attractive to this new wave of entrepreneurs means embracing new ways of delivering service and communicating. You should be investing in the technology and business practices that will attract these people and help you secure and retain them as clients.

What are you doing to replace your aging clients?

Sarah Johnson is the chief growth strategist with Inovautus Consulting, a firm that works with CPA, law and professional service firms to help them grow more effectively, and author of “Practical Ideas for Growth,” a blog dedicated to growing professional firms. Her counsel and strategies have helped move firms to the next level in their marketing and sales efforts. Connect with Sarah at 773-208-7170,, or


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