Recruiting and retaining qualified staff is the main concern for most accounting firms, according to a recent survey by the American Institute of CPAs. 

The institute’s biennial CPA Firm Top Issues Survey, which was released during its Practitioners’ Symposium and Tech+ Conference in Orlando this week, is conducted every two years and is segmented by firm size. This year, issues surrounding the talent pool in accounting were first and foremost, with “finding qualified staff” or “retaining qualified staff rising to the top spot in four out of five firm segments. The fifth group was sole practitioners, who listed keeping up with changes in tax laws as their top issue. 

“Recruitment was a key issue in the survey in the decade before 2007, but it wasn’t a strong emphasis during the recession as firms focused more on client retention,” said Mark Koziel, CPA, CGMA, the AICPA’s vice president for firm services and global alliances. “What we’re really seeing now is a return to a growth environment, which creates new opportunities and challenges for firms.” 

The seasonal nature of work in the profession and the workload compression that result were also a common issue, making it to the top five in all size segments, as did succession planning.

The top five issues for each segment are listed below; the number in parentheses is the issue’s rank from the previous survey in 2013.

 

Sole practitioners

  1. 1. Keeping up with changes and complexity in the tax laws (1)
  2. 2. Seasonality/workload compression (3)
  3. 3. The effect on firms caused by new federal and state regulation (5)
  4. 4. Succession planning (7)
  5. 5. Bringing in new clients (2)


2-5 professionals

  1. 1. Finding qualified staff (3)
  2. 2. Keeping up with changes and complexity in the tax laws (1)
  3. 3. Succession planning (2)
  4. 4. Seasonality/workload compression (5)
  5. 5. The effect on firms caused by new federal and state regulations (10)


6-10 professionals

  1. 1. Finding qualified staff (2)
  2. 2. Succession planning (1)
  3. 3. Seasonality/workload compression (3)
  4. 4. Retaining qualified staff (4)
  5. 5. Aging of owners/partners (8)


11-20 professionals

  1. 1. Retaining qualified staff (4)
  2. 2. Finding qualified staff (2)
  3. 3. Succession planning (3)
  4. 4. Bringing in new clients (1)
  5. 5. Seasonality/workload compression (6)

 

21+ professionals

  1. 1. Retaining qualified staff (3)
  2. 2. Finding qualified staff (5)
  3. 3. Owner/partner accountability and unity (1)
  4. 4. Seasonality/workload compression (8)
  5. 5. Tie: Bringing in new clients (2) and succession planning (4)


 The survey involved 776 firms; for full details, visit the CPA Firm Top Issues Survey page.


 

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