Retention of staff members is the top issue cited by Maryland CPA firms, according to a new survey by the Maryland Association of CPAs, followed by finding qualified people.

MACPA executive director Tom Hood surveyed CPA firm partners about their legislative priorities, firm issues, and the MACPA’s value proposition. Their feedback will be used by the association to shape its legislative agenda and future activities.

The partners said staffing issues are their top concerns, with “retention of people” narrowly edging “finding qualified staff” for the top spot. But recruitment and retention aren’t the only issues on their minds. The top five issues facing Maryland CPA firms are:

1. Retention of people
2. Finding qualified staff
3. Client acquisition and growth
4. Partner alignment and accountability
5. Adding value to client services

“The last issue was the first time on this list,” Hood said in a statement. “This is showing up more and more as CPAs cite a need to be more proactive and find new ways to serve clients and remain relevant. This is a major focus of ours in the coming year and part of our new ‘Anticipatory CPA’ program designed to give CPAs new skills in this area.”

Firm leaders are also worried about liability issues and they’re keeping a close watch on the legislative and regulatory landscape for new oversight that could have a major impact on their businesses and the accounting profession in Maryland.

The top five legislative and regulatory issues for Maryland CPA firms are:

1. Increasing quality of employee benefit plan audits
2. Stopping sales taxes on CPA services
3. CPA firm practice mobility (an extension of individual CPA license mobility)
4. CPA firm liability related to appeal bonds
5. CPA firm liability related to “comparative fault” rulings

The managing partners surveyed also recognize that the MACPA is helping them address those concerns head-on. When asked what they find most valuable about their MACPA membership, partners listed these key points:

1. “A lookout post:” The MACPA keeps firms ahead of emerging trends and issues.
2. Legislative advocacy: The association’s work in state and federal governments and in front of the state Board of Public Accountancy is more important than ever.
3. Leadership: The MACPA is helping firms develop their next-generation leaders.
4. Strategy: The MACPA has extensive expertise and experience in helping firms develop effective strategic plans.
5. Unity: The MACPA is building unity among CPAs in Maryland and beyond.

A number of cutting-edge MACPA events and resources are tied directly to the managing partners’ biggest issues and concerns. They include the following:

MACPA Employee Benefit Conference, April 27, Sheraton Columbia Hotel
The conference is held in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Labor and helps CPAs improve the quality of their employee benefit plan audits. Get details and register at MACPA.org/BenefitPlans.

The Anticipatory CPA, May 4, BWI Hilton
The MACPA and the Business Learning Institute will host world-renowned technology forecaster, innovation expert, and New York Times best-selling author Daniel Burrus to talk about how CPAs, CFOs, controllers, and management accountants can be more future-ready by learning how to be anticipatory. In today’s business landscape, Burrus calls anticipation “the most important missing competency.” The event ties directly to the issues of business development, growth, the MACPA “lookout post,” and leadership development. Get details at http://www.blionline.org/burrus.

MACPA’s Leadership Academy, June 3-5, Towson, Md.
Maryland firms can help develop their future leaders at the MACPA’s annual Leadership Academy. Applications and registration information is available at MACPA.org/LeadershipAcademy. See interviews with last year’s participants at http://cpa.tc/6sx.

New: Student Leadership Academy, June 25-27, Towson University
Firms can get a leg up on their recruitment efforts by participating in the MACPA’s new Student Leadership Academy. Firm sponsorships will place firms in front of the MACPA’s 2,000 student members representing all Maryland schools. Find more information at http://cpa.tc/6uk. Student applications are available at MACPA.org/StudentAcademy.

MACPA Innovation Summit, June 23, Martin’s West, Baltimore
Business development, growth, and the MACPA’s “lookout post” will be on full display at this signature MACPA event. Featured speakers will include Google Vice President Ari Balogh, who will discuss “The CPA’s Role in Today’s World of Disruption, Innovation, and Shift Change.” Get details and register at MACPA.org/CPAsummit.

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