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Don’t Let Excellence Get in the Way of Progress

For those who want the best in their careers and their lives, excellence is always a worthwhile pursuit.

While a commitment to greatness can seem purely positive, too much of a good thing can create a barrier to getting things done and building effective relationships. For organizations, an overemphasis on perfection can result in paralysis and the inability to innovate.

If you’ve mastered all the components of your role, if you want to drive growth for yourself, your team, and ultimately your firm, you will need to learn the art of delegation.

Training, mentoring, and business development should be part of your skillset.

For this year, figure out what can be delegated, outsourced and automated, so you can start the process for growth today.

Read More: Don’t Let Excellence Get in the Way of Progress

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Closing The Books On 2021: Looking Forward to 2022

For CPAs and their firms, 2021 was a year of unexpected challenges and opportunity – both of which producing new risks for the profession. As we enter 2022, there are three key areas of risk that CPAs should keep in mind as they serve their clients and look to grow their firms.

Professional Liability Risks:

Professional Liability Insurance Trends, Challenges and Predictions

Over the last year, CPA firms had to adopt new technologies, such as virtual communication platforms, secure file exchanges, cloud-based applications and artificial intelligence tools. As 2022 approaches, CPAs will have to pay particular attention to the relationships they have with third-party software vendors. CPAs should conduct vigorous due diligence when vetting these vendors. Additionally, make sure service agreements require these vendors to maintain privacy breach as well as professional liability coverage and language that they agree to defend, indemnify and hold the firm harmless for any breach or error/omission on their watch.

CPA Retention/Talent:

Meanwhile, 2021’s Great Resignation resulted in increased staffing issues for organizations nationwide – with CPA firms being no exception. 

With flexible options available for hybrid and remote work, the job market has widened significantly for CPAs, allowing them to fill roles at firms across the country without having to physically relocate while offering better benefits, higher salaries, and other desirable perks. This employee migration has left many firm leaders struggling to retain talent and fill their teams.

In 2022, the difficulties with retaining talent will likely continue, forcing firm leaders to take a closer look at their team building and engagement staffing plans. That said, CPA firms should be able to take advantage of the broader employment landscape.

Cyber Risks:Cyber Risks:

The Impact of Cybersecurity Risks on Financial Services

Cyber risks have accelerated more than 100% since the start of the pandemic, therefore, making firms and CPAs more vulnerable to a privacy breach than ever before. As the frequency and severity of both professional liability and cyber security risks continue to climb, CPAs and firm leaders should revisit their current quality control and data security protocols. They should ensure that engagement letters are in place for all services that – among other things – clearly define the scope of their work, the responsibilities of the respective parties to the agreement, and limit their liability.

From increased cyber and professional liability risks to broader growth opportunities for CPAs and firms, this year has established a solid foundation as to how firm leaders and their employees can tackle 2022 with seasoned insight and confidence.

Closing The Books On 2021: Looking Forward to 2022

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3 Trends for Accounting Firms in 2022

Firms willing to adopt new technologies and prioritize employee and client experiences will be in an ideal position to attract new clients and keep current clients happy. Here are three trends to know for the coming year.

Trend 1: The Great Resignation

 Dubbed “The Great Resignation,” firm owners and managers found themselves lacking staff just as businesses started reopening to the public. The pandemic has given employees a nudge for changes in the workplace. However, this has led to the concerns of the client services and how well they are served.

Flexible work schedule. Offering a hybrid work environment (working in the office for part of the week and working remotely for the rest) or permanently letting employees work from home may help keep talent from seeking greener pastures.

Skills training. One way to help is by offering them skills training to improve their work experience and knowledge.

Engagement. The message is clear: Keep employees engaged or lose them to another firm. Because what engages employees varies by the individual, the solution is to ask and understand each staff member’s motivation. 

Trend 2: Digital Solutions

Technology is used to improve services. With more and more consumers and businesses using accounting software programs, CPA firms will need to use sophisticated technology in different ways to help their clients.

Security remains a concern. Increased technological communication and the transfer of data over cyberspace naturally create additional security fears within and outside the organization.

Increase accounting automation.  According to a 2020 World Economic Forum report, the need for bookkeeping and data entry tasks will decrease as accounting automation usage increases. Hence firms that adopt automation solutions have more time to devote to offering other services to their clients. In addition, automation saves CPA firms on internal costs, making the firm more competitive.

Trend 3: Customer Experience

Expand niches. The days of general financial advice are long gone. Referral-based marketing works well, especially when targeting clients in similar industries or with like financial circumstances.

Add new services. Creating new offers grows your firm by diversifying services when the need arises.

Stay human. Too much technology can void the human touch in serving clients. Adding personalized data to customer relationship management (CRM) programs may help employees to better serve clients.

Read more: 3 Trends for Accounting Firms in 2022

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Why CPAs Should Collaborate More Than Ever

The Pandemic has shifted a lot of ‘set in stone’ rules of accounting. By necessity CPA firms have learned much during the pandemic, from offering remote customer services to deploying cloud and other technology solutions, all with the goal of continuously providing their clients with superior service. Maybe the biggest learning from the pandemic is that collaboration – both with other CPA firms as well as other professions – is a long-term strategy for success.

CPA firms face multiple challenges which put a strain on resources. Many firms lack the budget and personnel to field an office in every region, let alone every state. With the adoption of virtual work, the firm can leverage its specialty by offering its expertise to other CPA firms throughout the US.

Rising CPA firms can expand geographically, diversify their client portfolios, better manage their business risks and create an environment for future success by partnering with CPA firms outside their own specialty areas. Firms that choose this route would still own their existing client relationships while giving themselves the opportunity to deepen these connections by offering a more complete solution through combining their knowledge and resources with that of their collaborative partners.

It was projected that collaboration, consolidation, and M&A are set to increase significantly among CPA firms in 2022 and beyond. This was projected after research has shown that M&A activity for accounting firms has increased steadily throughout 2021 after a pandemic-induced slowdown in 2020. (AICPA & CIMA ENGAGE 2021 Conference)

Whether you are the collaborator or “collaboratee,” make sure to vet those value-add client services to ensure you have the right expertise so that your firm can thrive. 

Why CPAs Should Collaborate More Than Ever

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Managing the CPA Firm of Today

Firms must embrace the changes in order to remain successful in today’s shifting landscape amidst a pandemic and shifting work environments. In order to do this, one should know leadership and flexibility is key.

The Covid 19 Pandemic has shifted exponentially the remote working trend. Here are a few tips to help you form strategies for managing and engaging in a CPA firm of today.

Running a firm is a team sport

Your firm’s COO, CHRO, CIO, CMO and so on are essential to helping the managing partner run the firm and navigate challenges. You are no longer the star of the show, you need help, so utilize your team.

Innovation must become a strategy

Encourage your employees to be innovative. This will involve giving people time and space to innovate, rewarding employees for ideas and becoming comfortable with failure, as well as encouraging collaboration across departments.

You can’t ignore the client experience

Reinventing the Client Experience

A company should make sure that their client experience is consistent regardless of the person or department your client works with at your firm. The client’s entire journey starts even before they engage with your firm until even after you have delivered your service. Make sure your client service is focused on human interaction and directly supporting clients.

Find the right people and get them in the right roles

8 Valley companies ready to hire YOU! (08/22) - Correct Success

Since the onset of automation, firms can have more capacity as much of that manual, time-intensive work can be automated. Use that capacity to elevate people’s roles in the firm. You may want to motivate the professionals you maybe would have never considered initially as they can later become a very important part of your firm. Hire but inspire your staff to work to their highest potential as soon as possible

Pricing by the hour is becoming obsolete

Price-per-project or price-per-hour? | by Catherine Every | Medium

If your firm uses “billable hours” as a management tool it is fastly becoming obsolete. You can track how people spend their time without billing clients based on those hours. If you find quicker ways of getting tasks done you cannot cheapen your service for this reason. Your mantra, in the CPA world today, should be ‘make more, work less’. If you do not do this your firm will struggle to attract and retain talent, hold on to clients and stay ahead of the competition.

Managing the CPA Firm of Today

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The Best Ways for CPAs and Tax Specialists to Offer Investment Advice

Offering clients investment advice is inherently challenging and somewhat risky. Though financial planners and investment advisors are expected to provide such guidance, investing is outside of the niche of CPAs and tax professionals.

If you work in either of these professions and your clients seek investment advice, consider the suggestions detailed below.

Recognize Clients’ Need for Investing Guidance

Acknowledge the fact that you are not an investing guru and relinquish all legal liability for potential losses. Make it clear that your advice might lead to significant losses before making a single comment about a prospective investment.

Be General Rather Than Specific

It is a mistake to invest your limited time at work delving into the subtleties of prospective investments on behalf of your clients. Instead of providing highly specific advice pertaining to the nuances of individual stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, and other securities, speak in general terms.

Document all Client Interactions

If your client asks you to review an investment, document every piece of correspondence and information that changes hands and is discussed, be it verbally, in writing, or through email. All questions you pose to your clients pertaining to investments should be made in writing in order to provide you and your firm with the necessary legal protection. Documenting the exchange of information pertaining to client investments ensures an ensuing IRS audit will not conclude you or your firm have legal liability for the client’s legal violations such as the use of an impermissible tax shelter.

Refer to the Engagement Letter

CPAs and tax professionals often transmit engagement letters at the outset of providing services to a client. These letters are provided for the purposes of providing services in compliance with tax law. The language of the letter should state-specific services such as investment planning do not fall within the scope of the services rendered.

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