A new report from the Bay Street Group research firm describes the key factors driving new opportunities for accounting firms in this difficult business environment.
The report, Emerging Opportunities for Accounting Firms, recommends nine management strategies as well as greater usage of mobile devices such as smart phones. Leading-edge accounting firms are already taking advantage of the changing economic and regulatory terrain to gain a competitive edge, said Bay Street Group principal Rick Telberg. They are seizing opportunities in crisis, capitalizing on new regulatory schemes, planning for new tax regimes, sweeping up talented people, and making the best of new technologies.
Several broad areas were identified as timely factors driving new opportunities for accounting firms, including the finding that crisis creates opportunity for well-positioned market leaders and innovators. As part of the restabilization of the global financial services sector, standards-setters and regulators are conducting a thorough reconsideration of accounting and auditing rules, the report noted. New canons of practice are developing for accountants and auditors. Quick-witted and quick-footed firms stand to win first-mover advantages.
In the past few years, accounting firms suffered sometimes severe staffing shortages caused by a surge in assignments related to post-Enron Sarbanes-Oxley auditing rules, and a decline in CPA candidates, as students instead pursued MBAs for higher paying jobs on Wall Street. With the implosion in finance, students are once again flocking to accounting, providing a ready, able and price-negotiable pool of new talent, the study found.
As can be expected, technology is proving to be the great lever separating the thriving accounting firms from the merely surviving. Accounting firms are embracing efficiency, integration, continuous connectivity and workforce mobility.
Furthermore, the study identifies nine management strategies accounting firms are using to seize competitive advantage, including client satisfaction; business development; employee recruitment and retention; technology management and cost; expense control; document management; tax, accounting and business research; time and billing; and unified messaging.
Bay Street Group has produced an on-demand webcast on the report, sponsored by BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion.
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