Client retention tops the list as the most significant challenge facing CPA firms, according to the American Institute of CPAs' 2009 CPA Firm Top Issues Survey. The survey gathers information from a wide range of practitioners in five different size segments, from sole practitioner to firms with more than 21 professionals, in an effort to get a snapshot of the most critical challenges facing AICPA members.

Marketing and practice growth re-appeared in the AICPA's Top 5 Issues list for the first time since 2005 across all five of the firm sizes that were surveyed. Technical training standards and succession issues also topped the 2009 list. The top issues varied by firm size. After client retention, tax law complexity and changes were top concerns for sole practitioners, while partner accountability and succession planning were top issues for firms with more than 20 professionals.

Other survey results show:

* While staffing dropped from the top spot since the last survey, finding qualified staff is still a Top 10 concern for firms with two to 20 professionals.

* New regulations and standards on small firms was a Top 5 concern for firms with up to 20 professionals, and was in the Top 10 for practitioners in firms with 21 or more professionals.

* Partner accountability and succession planning continue to be top issues for firms with 21 or more professionals.

* Tax law complexity was the second largest challenge for firms with five or fewer professionals.

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Tempe, Ariz.-based Henry & Horne has launched a new employee benefits audit blog titled "The 411 on Employee Benefit Plans - Valuable Information on 401(k)s, Pensions, ESOPs, Form 5500 Preparation and much more!"

"The 411" is a compilation of entries from the firm's employee benefit plans niche, which is headed up by partner Christine Brueser. The entries cover a wide range of topics, including personal experiences and updated information on employee benefit plans.

The blog is updated every Tuesday and is the firm's third. Check it out at


Atlanta - The PKF North American Network has started a Center for Exit Planning Excellence to help member firms advise aging business owners on options for what to do when they are ready to retire or move on.

Through the center, which was established in May, PKF NAN members will receive a base level of resources and support, including networking and knowledge-sharing with peers. Members also have the option of going further by joining the Business Enterprise Institute, a PKF NAN partner, to access proprietary technology, marketing services, an ongoing professional development program and other resources.

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The AICPA Professional Liability Insurance Program has introduced the new CPA NetProtect endorsement to the policy. CPA NetProtect provides privacy event expense coverage for reasonable and necessary costs incurred in responding to a privacy breach, such as costs to comply with breach response notice laws or to provide credit monitoring on behalf of affected individuals.

The AICPA professional liability insurance policy currently provides coverage for a claim alleging damage to a client's network in the rendering of professional services. CPA NetProtect extends this coverage to address claims brought by non-clients if a CPA firm's network is used to attack their networks.


Camico Mutual Insurance Co. and Liberty International Underwriters have forged a new program to service CPAs nationally.

The new program will strengthen and expand Camico's capacity for providing coverage and risk management services, especially to larger CPA firms. Its policy wordings will match existing Camico policy forms, and firms will have direct access to the comprehensive range of Camico advisory, loss prevention, and claim services and resources.

The new program will focus primarily on policies with limits of $3 million and higher and will be underwritten by LIU using Liberty Mutual Group companies that are rated "A" by A.M. Best Co.

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