A significant increase in sales prices for CPA firms in 2005 was one of several predictions made by a panel of experts at a recent accounting conference here.

Sales prices for firms will reach as much as two times revenue in 2005, up from the current 1.2 to 1.5 times revenue, according to consultant Jay Nisberg, president of Ridgefield, Conn.-based Jay Nisberg & Associates.

In addition, Nisberg said that he expects to see more firms creating committees to establish pricing for engagements, instead of letting the individual partners set a price for an engagement. His remarks were made last week at the Winning Is Everything conference, where he and the other four members of The Advisory Board identified trends in the accounting profession.

Gary Shamis, managing partner of SS&G Financial Services, said that the next wave of new business will be public company tax compliance work. He also opines that the upward mergers of firms will intensify because of staffing problems.

The succession of CPA firm leadership will become a bigger issue, postulated Troy Waugh, president of The Rainmaker Academy. He also predicted that there will be huge demand for part-time chief financial officer and controller services, as well as for forensic services.

As for national CPA firm associations, Allan Koltin, president and chief executive of PDI Global, saw the expansion of collaborative marketing activities. He also said that he believed that the human resources operations of firms will focus more on recruitment, training, retention and career development.

Gary Boomer, CEO of Boomer Consulting, saw chief technology officers and chief information officers becoming an integral part of a firm's management team with regard to the strategic use of technology. He also predicted that a training and learning culture will become more important to the attraction and retention of quality people.

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