The AICPA Private Companies Practice Section (PCPS) did a remarkable job with its 2007 Top MAP Issues survey, and it was done without even changing the question that is asked each year or who was asked. It was done simply by taking a knife and cutting up the answers. The annual survey asks various practitioners in public practice: What are your top five MAP concerns?   For 2007, the responses were broken down by the size of the practice: sole practitioner, and two to five, six to 10, 11 to 20, 21 or more professionals. Although other than the sole practitioners, staffing in some or multiple ways is an issue for all the other respondents, the other answers varied widely based on firm size, and even with regard to staffing, there are interesting nuances based by firm size. For example, tax complexity and changes is the No. 3 concern of firms with two to five professionals, and that concern didn’t appear in any of the top five concerns of the other groups.   This breakdown by sole practitioners and by various firm sizes means you see a very accurate picture of the experiences of each. The results of the survey may be found here.

Here is a second PCPS survey that takes a more detailed snapshot of public accounting firms’ experiences and it is with regard to new hires and top talent at firms. In the 2006 PCPS Top Talent Survey, both new hires and partners are asked what are the main reasons that the new hires joined the firm and top talent and partners are asked why the top talent remains at the firm.   What is so fascinating is when you compare the answers of each of the two groups to one another, there is a disconnect at times as partners put importance on factors which aren’t at the top of the young professionals’ list. Despite observing the same event, there were these important differences which seem to be based on perceptions derived from where the individual is at this point in his or her career. For example, medical benefits is No. 5 and open door/accessible management style is No. 11 on the partners’ list why top talent remains, while they are in contrast are No. 17 and No. 4, respectively on the top talent’s list. The results of this survey and study are available free to PCPP members here.   The results of both surveys were presented at the recent annual conference of the Association of Accounting Marketing in San Diego, and after attending that conference I have concluded that some accounting marketers and partners at some firms also experience a disconnect in how they view and interact with one another based on their experiences and perspectives. For instance, a marketer might view an article written by a CPA from the firm as the equivalent of a $10,000 paid ad, while the CPA might see the writing of the article as a forced, nonbillable use of time that generates no real benefit to the firm. Both groups need to improve their communications and that requires a quantitative and qualitative analysis of what they are discussing and a studying of any disconnect that is discovered. Only then can all the professionals in the firm work together as a team and provide the superior, premier delivery of client services, which will be the needed differential and hallmark of successful firms in the future.   Because of where technology is taking us and its growing customer/client influence and impact via the Internet, text messaging, RRS feeds, blogs, e-mails, and whatever else will be developed, the “accounting firm experience” will ultimately determine client and staff retention and the acquisition of new staff and clients. It is an imperative that all firm professionals work together so they at all times project and ensure the very best “accounting firm experience.”

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