The majority of CPA firms experienced an increase in revenue growth, according to a new survey by the American Institute of CPAs and the Texas Society of CPAs.
While the profession has not yet rebounded to pre-recession revenue levels as , it is steadily gaining momentum, the survey found.
Two-thirds of survey takers reported at least some growth in client fees over the past year, compared to 55 percent in 2010, the last time the National Management of an Accounting Practice Survey was conducted. Forty-two percent of CPA firms reported modest fee increases of 1 to 9 percent, while a little more than a third saw a decrease or no change. Small firms with less than $200,000 in annual revenues were more than twice as likely as others to see an increase in client fees of 30 percent or more.
Average partner compensation jumped to $188,500 in 2012, an increase of 10 percent over two years ago, and now stands at virtually the same level as 2008, when it was $188,572. The 2008 MAP survey was conducted before the steep slide in the U.S. economy, so it represents a good guidepost of recovery.
“Income growth for the profession is stronger than it was in 2010 but still short of the pre-recession levels in 2008,” said AICPA vice president of firm services and global alliances Mark Koziel in a statement. “What we’re seeing now is the emergence of a better growth track for many firms, as well as a greater emphasis on strategic planning, particularly on succession topics.”
While overall client fees have increased for many firms, per-partner fees dropped in the latest survey. Koziel said this probably reflects the addition of new partners, particularly at larger firms, which are planning ahead for the pending retirement of Baby Boom-generation leaders. This benchmarking category should improve as an expected wave of partners steps down over the next decade.