Posts Tagged ‘survey’

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Reminder About CPACA Succession Survey

CPA_LogoThis week, things at your firm just might be a little less hectic than they have been in recent weeks.

Back in September, I invited firms to respond to a survey that is being conducted to determine how partners in CPA firms view their firm’s ability to address the succession of their partners primarily as they approach retirement.

Because of the fall tax due dates, we are offering extended time to complete the survey. Thanks so much to those of you who have already completed the survey and for all others, now you have more time! The survey will now close on October 31.

The survey consists of 15 short, simple statements to which respondents will enter their level of agreement. It should take no more than 10 minutes to complete. We will be releasing our findings in the form of an article that will include ideas and practical advice your firm can apply. All survey participants who supply us with contact information will receive a copy of the article as well as access to interviews we are doing with CPA firm leaders and emerging leaders.

Here is a link to where you can complete the survey.


  • For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.
  • Lily Tomlin

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014








On behalf of my friends at AICPA/PCPS, I urge you to take part in the National MAP Survey…..

Ready…set…GO, CPAs:  This is the final push to gain the most reliable benchmarking survey data; we need to reach as many Public Accounting Firms as possible.  If you want to compare your firm’s performance to other firms like yours, take a couple hours to complete the 2014 AICPA PCPS/TSCPA National MAP Survey which is closing August 15th

Use the personalized results to pinpoint what it will take for your firm to perform “above average” in the categories most important to you. The information gathered benefits the profession as well – please participate if you haven’t already and ask your peers to do the same. 


  • When you control the mail... you control information.
  • Newman, on Seinfeld

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Don’t Mess-Up Or Misunderstand Your MAP Stats

My good friend, Marc Rosenberg, you know the famous Rosenberg Survey guy, has shared some great information on the 10 biggest mistakes partners make in reading and computing MAP statistics.

Here are some bullet points but be sure to follow the link to read much more informative detail about each one.

Over-reliance on partner income percentage as a measure of profitability. – Many partners believe that 33% is the minimum acceptable partner income percentage and they should strive for 40%. If a firm is heavily leveraged, partner income percentages in the 20s and low 30s are perfectly acceptable.

Being content with “average.” – This is one that really bugs me! Don’t celebrate being average.

Average salary data – Salary data is too tied to geographic area for nationwide averages to be very helpful.

Utilization percentage – This metric is total billable hours of a firm divided by the total work hours of the firm, with all personnel included.

Net firm billing rate – This is calculated by taking the total annual net fees of the firm and dividing it by the total firm billable hours.

Average compensation for firm administrators – This is a mis-leading number because of the wide variety of levels of firm administrators. Rosenberg thinks the results were misleading and has discontinued using it.

Treating non-equity partners like “partners.” – Treating non-equity partners the same as equity partners will usually distort the computations. ManIMG_1902y non-equity partners perform like managers.

Computing income per partner. – Don’t ignore the distinction between accrual and cash basis methods of accounting.

Average fees per professional – There is a problem here with definition. What is a professional? It varies by firm. Rosenberg likes to use fees per person.

Computing the average charge hours for any category of personnel, such as partners and professional staff. – There are two main issues. Most firms make the mistake of computing the number of FTE’s by adding up their total work hours and dividing by 2080. The only proper way to compute average annual charge hours for a personnel grouping is to only include personnel who were with the firm for a full year and were full time the entire year.

Order your copy of the 2013 Rosenberg Survey here.

  • Some of the worst mistakes of my life have been haircuts.
  • Jim Morrison

Monday, June 24th, 2013

The Basic MAP Stuff – On My Mind

This is one of my “On My Mind” type posts. I don’t do them often but I just want to ramble so that you can contemplate.

CPAs in public accounting love MAP (managing an accounting practice) statistics. They can’t wait until the newest survey comes out to find out if they are average – what a thrill (yes, like Sheldon Cooper, I’m not very good with sarcasm).

If you are a professional managing an accounting firm, don’t settle for being average.

The one statistic that I see so much of that is out-of-line is net revenue vs. number of partners.

I talk to so many firms, in person and via phone who tell me something like this….. “Our revenue is roughly $6,000,000. We have 12 partners.”

Firms keep adding partners when they are not adding revenue. If you are over a $2M firm, your net fees per partner should be over $1M per partner (per the Rosenberg Survey). The largest non-big four firms are nearing $2M per partner.

If you are considering adding new partners this year, I hope one of the requirements is that the firm revenue has grown to support them.

  • If you are a $6M firm with 6 partners, don’t add more. 
  • If you are considering adding a partner who has not proven they can generate business, think again.

I’m not saying that each partner has to manage $1M. Some of your partners can manage $1.5 and another can be responsible for $500,000, that’s okay. You do need a mixture of skills.

FYI – The newest Rosenberg Survey will be released in September.

  • 40% of CPA firm partners should not be partners.
  • Marc Rosenberg

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

AICPA PCPS 2013 Top Issues Survey

On Tuesday, the AICPA released the results of the 2013 CPA Firm Top Issues Survey.

I like the way they break it down by firm size:

  • Sole practitioners
  • Firms with 2-5 professionals
  • Firms with 6-10 professionals
  • Firms with 11-20 professionals
  • Firms with 21 or more professionals

However, I actually don’t like the way they word it…. I believe everyone working inside a CPA firm is a professional. It is a professional services organization, so the firm administrator, marketing director, HR direction, technology team and admin team are all professionals to me.

I was not surprised to see that the competition for top talent is heating up again.

One surprising issue to me – at the top spot for large firms is Partner Unity & Accountability. I’m glad to see that firms are admitting it and hopefully dealing with it.

Sole Practitioners:

  1. Keeping up with changes and complexity of the tax laws
  2. Bringing in new clients
  3. Seasonality/workload compression
  4. Retention of current clients
  5. Cost and complexity of new federal and sate regulations

Firms with 2-5 Professionals:

  1. Keeping up with changes and complexity of the tax laws
  2. Succession planning
  3. Finding qualified staff (all levels)
  4. Bringing in new clients
  5. Seasonality/workload compression

Firms with 6-10 Professionals:

  1. Succession planning
  2. Finding qualified staff (all levels)
  3. Bringing in new clients
  4. Retaining qualified staff (all levels)
  5. Owner/partner accountability and unity

Firms with 11-20 Professionals:

  1. Bringing in new clients
  2. Finding qualified staff (all levels)
  3. Succession planning
  4. Retaining qualified staff (all levels)
  5. Retention of current clients.

Firms with more than 20 Professionals:

  1. Owner/partner accountability and unity
  2. Bringing in new clients
  3. Retaining qualified staff (all levels)
  4. Succession planning
  5. Finding qualified staff (all levels)

If you want to see a comparison of the 2013 findings with the 2011 findings (the last time the survey was conducted), you can find it here.

  • Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.
  • Helen Keller

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Help Determine How Much CPAs Are Using Social Media

It’s that time of year again. Time for the SocialCPAs annual Social Media Survey. This is the 4th year for the survey.

You will be able to use the survey results to compare your social media efforts to your peers. It should only take you about 10 minutes.

Click here to take the survey.

If you want to see past survey results, you can access them here.

Be sure to visit the SocialCPAs site for interesting and up-to-date information about social media for accounting professionals. Barry MacQuarie does a great job.

I found this hilarious video when I visited recently. This is for those CPAs who are not quite there yet when it comes to paperless!

  • If you don't design your own life plan, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.
  • Jim Rohn

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Help Us Understand Your Technology Needs – Complete This 2-Minute Survey

SurveyCPA copyI have known Beth Bruck of XCM Solutions for many years. She was formerly the CCH rep for my area of the country. Last year Beth made a career enhancement and joined the XCM team.

Beth and I have had many long conversations about CPAs and how to help them improve their firms. We never run out of things to talk about on that topic!XCM

I (as SurveyCPA) am joining with Beth and XCM to ask all of you to participate in a 2-minute survey based on your firm’s technology. It will help guide both of our organizations in the future.

Here’s a link to the survey.

Plus – – – (drum roll) – You will be entered in a drawing to win an iPad.


  • Winning takes talent, to repeat takes character.
  • John Wooden

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

The After Tax Season Debriefing

EinsteinI call it the ATS (after tax season) survey, others call it the annual post-mortem, the busy season debriefing and other various names.

It is an exercise CPA firms go through to assess the good and the bad (and I guess you could add ugly) of their just completed busy season. As you might expect, firm leaders go through the exercise of gathering key people for this discussion. Some firms survey the entire team for their input. Usually an action plan is the result of this exercise. But, then what happens? Often, very little actually happens to implement the necessary changes to make busy season better next year.

Make it different and better this year.

  • Design an internal survey that is divided into sections. There are some general questions to begin with and then there is a section for audit, tax, administration, technology/software and management/miscellaneous. Under the general category add a question ONLY for the accountants asking for feedback on the administrative teams performance and a question ONLY for the administrative team to comment on the performance of the accountants. Be sure to include a comment box and ask each “side” to give an example of above and beyond performance by the other team.
  • The firm administrator gathers all of the survey input and divides it by section. The audit section (raw data) goes to the Chair of the Audit Committee, the tax data goes to the Tax Chair, the firm administrator gets the admin section, technology comments goes to the IT leader and management/miscellaneous goes to the managing partner and firm administrator. These leaders use the data to meet with their committees and/or task forces to produce an action plan.

At my firm, the tax committee would not meet after busy season until they had this data. A brief summary of the feedback was made available to all team members and then the committees/departments shared their action plan after they met and reviewed the data.

Breaking it down into segments assures that more people are involved in the solutions and action plans have a better chance of being implemented. If you need a sample, feel free to contact me.

  • Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
  • Albert Einstein

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Get The Conversation Started – Ask Questions

question markPeople will usually speak-up if they are asked.

At first, they might not divulge everything that is on their mind. However, it is important to get the conversation started.

Asking once isn’t enough. Inside your CPA firm strive for a culture where asking and replying honestly is the rule of thumb, something that happens naturally.

Try this experiment. At this year’s partner retreat, your group will probably come up with a new initiative or project that you have learned at a firm association meeting or conference. The leadership group will probably discuss it, debate it and eventually agree upon a strategy. BEFORE you officially roll it out ask your team how this proposed decision by the partner group will affect them.

As you are planning your retreat, before the meeting date ask EVERYONE in the firm to submit what they think is the biggest issue that needs to be addressed by firm leadership in 2013. Just one question and encourage them to give you just one answer. If you think you will get more truthful answers, let them do it anonymously . If you want help, contact me and I’ll help you facilitate the survey.

If you identify that one big issue or new idea, ask EVERYONE in the firm to help solve the problem, initiate the new idea, or help carry through the implementation.

Give your valuable CPA firm team members some control over their own work lives.

  • Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.
  • Ambrose Bierce

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Great Day With The OSCPA

IMG_1023Yesterday, it was my pleasure and honor to part of a new Committee for The Ohio Society of CPAs – The Women’s Initiatives Committee.

If you are a member of OSCPA, I hope you read the article in Ohio CPA Voice  about a survey conducted last fall to determine interest in a women’s initiative for the state society. You can read it here, in the December issue.

The survey response was amazing, a 19.6% response rate (which is huge) and 350 members said they were willing to volunteer to help in some aspect of the OSCPA Women’s Initiatives program or events.

The Board approved the establishment of the Committee, we met yesterday and we’re off and running.

A special treat for me, and the other members of the committee, was the opportunity to meet Scott Wiley, our new President and CEO of the Ohio Society of CPAs.

Probably like many of you (members of the Ohio Society), I was curious about this new guy in town and how he will fare filling the big shoes of Clarke Price (retiring CEO who had been in place for 22 years).

Wiley joined us first thing to meet us, welcome us and stress his support for this new initiative. He also shared lunch with us and to get to know us better, ask for our insights and share some of the steps in his new adventure. Bottom line… I was impressed by his charm, professionalism and willingness to engage with us.

AND yes, he agreed to a picture – – Scott Wiley – new OSCPA CEO – is that you with Rita?


  • There is a special place in Hell for women who do not help other women.
  • Madeleine K. Albright