Argy, Wiltse & Robinson, issued a press release announcing its 15th anniversary. In the release, AWR, with $30 million in annual revenue, described itself as one of the nation's fastest-growing certified public accounting and business advisory firms in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region, as well as one the nation's 25 best-managed firms.

What I found interesting was what AWR president and CEO Paul Argy says in the press release. He attributes the firm's success to its ability to attract and retain a highly skilled workforce, thereby allowing the firm to acquire and maintain a solid client base. He goes on to say, "The fact that we don't serve public companies gives us greater flexibility and eliminates the burnout that is typical of so many public accounting firms. This factor, combined with the positive work-life balance we encourage, has allowed us to cultivate a very high-caliber staff."

This press release is different from the many others I have read over the years. Different in that it is aimed more at attracting staff than at attracting new clients. This primary focus on staff rather than clients is also revealed in other firms’ actions. One California firm recently won the Practical Accountant Practice Innovation Award because it opened a new office for the convenience of its staff. Similarly, there was a firm in the Mountain States mentioned in our April regional survey issue that picked a city for a new office based on the anticipated ability to attract new staff.

In a Q&A in our upcoming November issue, the managing partner of a very successful firm explains that the firm’s primary focus when it considers a merger candidate is the quality of the partners and staff. Although staff retention is a concern of that firm, client retention isn’t.

For a number of years, finding and retaining staff has been the No. 1 problem for many firms. What we are now seeing is staffing considerations greatly impacting a firm‘s actions, such as where it will open an office and how the firm wants to seen.

The bottom line appears to be there is plenty of new work for accounting firms, and the clients will come as long as they can get the staff.

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