2018 Year Ahead logo
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.
AT-011217-Growth expectations for 2018
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%.
AT-021217-SmallFirmGrowth
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%.
AT-021217-MidsizedGrowthExpectations
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%.
AT-021217-Large Firm Growth Expectations
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%.
AT021217-Small firm Issues
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.
AT021217-Midsized firm Issues
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.
AT021217-Large firm 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.
AT-031217-Tax Season Expectations
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.
AT-031217-2018 Tax Season Saturdays
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.
AT-031217-Firm Planning in 2018
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.
AT-031217-New service areas
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.
AT-031217-TechBudgets
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).
AT-031217-Increased IT spending
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).
AT-031217-New Technology Tools
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).
AT-031217-Tech Options for staff
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.
AT-031217-Marketing Materials for 2018
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.