Slideshow 2018 in numbers

  • December 04 2017, 9:16am EST
17 Images Total

In order to see what CPAs and accountants believe 2018 has in store for them -- and what they have in store for it -- we conducted our annual survey of over 500 firms of all sizes in early November, on everything from their growth expectations to their plans for tech spending, their use of social media, and the new services they're offering.

You can also read what a panel of industry experts and thought leaders expect 2018 to bring the accounting profession here.

Overall growth expectations

Breakdown for all firms: Growth over 10 percent -- 19%; 8-9 percent -- 7%; 6-7 percent -- 10%; 4-5 percent -- 27%; 1-3 percent -- 22%; flat or decline -- 15%.

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Small firm growth expectations

Breakdown for small firms: Growth over 10 percent -- 19%; 8-9 percent -- 5%; 6-7 percent -- 5%; 4-5 percent -- 25%; 2-3 percent -- 20%; 1 percent -- 4%; flat or decline -- 23%.

Midsized firm growth expectations

Breakdown for midsized firms: Growth over 10 percent -- 27%; 8-9 percent -- 7%; 6-7 percent -- 8%; 4-5 percent -- 22%; 2-3 percent -- 20%; 1 percent -- 4%; flat or decline -- 11%.

Large firm growth expectations

Breakdown for large firms: Growth over 10 percent -- 10%; 8-9 percent -- 10%; 6-7 percent -- 21%; 4-5 percent -- 35%; 1-3 percent -- 17%; flat or decline -- 5%.

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The biggest issues for small firms

The top issues remained much the same as last year, though keeping up with technology switched spots with data and IT security.

The biggest issues for midsized firms

Concern about keeping up with tech has jumped significantly from last year, when it ranked fifth on the list. Regulatory changes and finding and keeping qualified remain major issues.

The biggest issues for large firms

Staffing has become an even bigger concern, with 71 percent of large firms worrying about it this year, against 57 percent last year. Keeping up with technology has also become a much bigger concern; it didn't even crack the top five last year.

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Expectations for tax season

Accountants were a little less optimistic about the coming tax season; with only 43 percent expecting it to better this year, as opposed to 52 percent last year. Large firms were the most pessimistic: 19 percent of them expected the coming season to be worse than the previous one, while only 10 percent each of small and midsized firms were so gloomy.

Tax season workloads

How much firms expect their staff to work on Saturdays has remained much the same as last year. Interestingly, the larger the firm, the more likely they are to require Saturday work: It's expected at 37 percent of small firms, at 47 percent of midsized firms, and at 54 percent of large firms.

Planning for 2018

Large firms remain in the lead when it comes to putting plans in place for the future, but there remains room for improvement at all levels.

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Trying new things

Of the services that firms were most likely to add in 2018, only two had significant penetration in the profession: client accounting services at 34 percent, and payroll at 62 percent.

The cost of the future

Small firms reported IT spending as a slightly smaller percentage of their budgets this year, while large firms slightly expanded their spending, and expect to spend even more in 2018 (see next slide).

Changes in IT spending

In keeping with their smaller budgets, small firms are much more likely to plan to keep their spending at the same level (66 percent), as opposed to large firms (only 44 percent).

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Implementation plans

Interestingly, small firms were much more likely to plan to adopt cloud accounting software (20 percent of firms) than midsized firms (8 percent) and large firms (7 percent).

Staff tools

More and more of the profession is embracing remote work -- though it should be noted that the tightness of that embrace varies widely.

Better business development tools

Firms of all sizes are serious about improving their marketing materials, with a whopping 75 percent planning on working on their Web sites in 2018.