The year ahead for accounting: 2020 in numbers

In order to see what CPAs and accountants believe 2020 has in store for them — and what they have in store for it — Accounting Today conducted its annual survey of almost 600 firms of all sizes in late October, polling them on everything from their growth expectations to their plans for tech spending, their use of social media, and the new services they're offering.

In addition, a panel of firm leaders share what they expect 2020 to bring the accounting profession here.

Last year, more than half of small firms cited the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as their biggest concern; less than a quarter did this year. The growing worry for 2020 is keeping up with technology: Only 29 percent were concerned about it last year, versus 42 percent this year.
The TCJA also dropped as a major concern for midsized firms; otherwise, their list of challenges remained much the same.
Less than a fifth of large firms are concerned about the TCJA; their big issues are recruiting and retention, as it has been for several years.
Accountants are much less pessimistic about the upcoming tax season; only 5 percent think it will be worse than the previous year's, against 24 percent who expected that in the last survey. The percentage who expect it to be the same is about the same, while the percentage of those who expect it to be better is 17 percentage points higher.
The percentage of firms required staff to work some or all Saturdays during tax season remains much the same as last year.
Just over half of all firms are planning to hire at least one new full-time employee in 2020 — a number that climbs to more than three-quarters among large firms.
Overall, the number of firms with strategic plans and successions climbed slightly from last year; this is the first year the survey asked about innovation programs, but they are already well-represented.
CAS is the most popular new service to add, followed closely by payroll and nonprofit offerings.