New York (Oct. 15, 2003) -- Want to know what keeps CPA managing partners up at night? For the sixth consecutive year, it’s finding and keeping qualified staff.

That’s the top line finding of the American Institute of CPAs’ annual “Top Five Management of an Accounting Practice Issues” survey.

Succession planning, marketing, workload compression and fee pressures also rose to the top of the list this year. And more than half of all respondents are feeling the pain of Sarbanes-Oxley and its aftermath, saying they were concerned about its effects on smaller firms.

“Clearly staffing is an issue that is impacting the entire profession. Here at the AICPA, we are committed not only to providing resources to help firms overcome this hurdle, but also to exploring how to help firms of different sizes,” noted Jim Metzler, AICPA Vice President, Small Firm Interests.

The survey polled CPA firms across the country ranging in size from sole practitioners to 21 or more professionals, asking them to rank the most important practice management challenges facing firms today. More than 1,000 CPA respondents completed the survey, double the number that participated last year.

Firms of all sizes gave a high importance rating to “finding and retaining qualified staff.” However, large firms registered a particularly high level of concern, with 91% giving the issue a top importance ranking.

Following is a breakdown of the top concerns of small firms:

2003 General Top Five MAP Issues:
Finding and retaining qualified staff
Succession planning/developing future owners
Marketing/practice growth
Seasonality/workload compression
Fee pressure/pricing of service

2002 General Top Five MAP Issues:
Finding and retaining qualified staff
Marketing/practice growth
Seasonality/workload compression
The effect of the new regulatory environment on local/regional firms
Succession planning

2003 Top Five MAP Issues for Sole Practitioners:
Changes and complexity of the tax laws
Keeping up with technology
Keeping up with the standards
The effect on smaller firms caused by the new standards
(tie) Seasonality/workload compression
(tie) Fee pressure/pricing of services

2003 Top Five MAP Issues for Firms with 2-5 CPAs:
Finding and retaining qualified staff
Marketing/practice growth
Fee pressure/pricing of services
Succession planning/identifying and developing future owners
Seasonality/workload compression

2003 Top Five MAP Issues for Firms with 6-10 CPAs:
Finding and retaining qualified staff
Succession planning/identifying and developing future owners
Marketing/practice growth
Seasonality/workload compression
The effect on smaller firms caused by the new standards

2003 Top Five MAP Issues for Firms with 11-20 CPAs:
Succession planning/identifying and developing future owners
Finding and retaining qualified staff
Marketing/practice growth
Seasonality/workload compression
Fee pressure/pricing of services
2003 Top Five MAP Issues for Firms with 21+ CPAs:
Succession planning/identifying and developing future owners
Finding and retaining qualified staff
Marketing/practice growth
Seasonality/workload compression
Establishing accountability for compensation for partners
-- WebCPA staff

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access