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Five benefits of the biggest trend CPAs will see in 2024

Five benefits of the biggest trend CPAs will see in 2024

From the desk of Frank Tirelli

Chairman of Professional Services

Dear Reader,

As we approach the holiday season, I would like to extend my warmest greetings and best wishes for a joyous and prosperous new year. As the year closes, we all tend to find ourselves focused on resolutions, should we make them, and if so, in what areas. For those of us in the professional services arena, such resolutions usually include, how may the year 2024 be improved, both for our people and our clients.

I realize we greet every new year with the tiring rush of tax season. Once again we find ourselves consumed with compliance, not spending enough time discussing value added strategies with our existing client base, and now turning down more clients than ever before in our history. Such is the state of our profession due to the recurring curse of the talent crunch, which refuses to solve itself. The CPA profession seems to have morphed into the proverbial Sisyphus, pushing the boulder uphill year after year with no real progress in sight.

Five benefits of the biggest trend CPAs will see in 2024

So, what may we do differently this time to find solutions for this challenge?

I have spent a significant part of my time over the past few years discussing these issues with CPA firms and professionals across the country to better understand their perspectives, find some commonality with their challenges, and brainstorm ideas to resolve them. Interestingly, most firms have focused their problems on a lack of talent and the resulting inefficiency in providing quality work, which compounds during tax season.

As shown in the adjacent graph, the talent issue is here to stay, and resolving such with traditional solutions is non-tenable. Further, one of the most frequently-voiced issues is how a majority of staff time during the tax busy season is spent on cleaning and reconciling records (client financials in effect) before any tax returns can be prepared and then filed. This burden in effect requires firms to divert valuable resources that could otherwise be allocated to fostering growth by adding new clients and providing value-added strategies to existing clients.

As it is impossible to imagine a world where clients send only clean books during tax season, many firms are becoming interested in a combined tax and accounting solution to resolve this challenge.

The more strategy sessions we have with CPA firms, the more I am convinced that the most complete and proven option is a solution that seamlessly combines accounting and tax proficiencies. The firms that have already employed this approach have enjoyed several significant benefits:

  1. Cost savings – CPA firms have been able to utilize talent that, per hour, costs a third of what they can bill their clients for, without sacrificing quality or efficiency. Over the course of bookkeeping and tax filing engagements, these savings add up considerably and can be reinvested back into the firm in the form of domestic hires, employee development, and updated technology, among others.
  2. Elevating the client experience – firms supplementing their compliance talent pool have found themselves with more capacity to perform the consultatitive and analytical work that their clients value rather than only bookkeeping and reporting. Moreover, they have more touchpoints with their clients and ultimately a stronger connection. Not only does this increase client satisfaction and retention, but also creates a larger and more predictable revenue stream during the course of the year.
  3. Expanding new client relationships – consistent with 2. above, firms have also used this increased capacity to once again produce significant growth by procuring new clients. This growth would perhaps be a little more startegic than in the past. Now we see firms in the marketplace, speaking with potential new clients in industries for which their firm brings significant value, and adding such new cients to their firm.
  4. Quality and efficiency – firms spending too much of their time focused on execution of their accounting and compliance services are not focusing enough time on strategic/value added services, and the client experience suffers because of it. Nobody wants to work with a CPA who is constantly stressed and rushed. A reputable talent provider can be a game-changer in this area, ensuring that firms are focused on the big picture instead of minutae.
  5. Employee satisfaction – when employees are not bogged down with repetitive tasks, they are able to flourish professionally and creatively. Employee retention is thus increased and ultimately provides for a more stable environment that benefits the firm and its clients alike. This point is critical given the talent shortage as well as younger workers’ prioritization of work-life balance and professional development, both of which suffer when employees are burned out.

The accounting profession and professional services in the US have always faced one challenge after another. After all, that is the nature of business and especially our business. Our profession has always met these challenges and often has led the economy through them. Here we are again, faced with another significant challenge in the lack of talent, which is also a challenge for the business environment as a whole.

I am equally confident we as a profession will again find solutions for this challenge. Except this time we may have to focus much more out of the box, and think and act globally. Firms may need to let go of old beliefs and solutions, and embrace a global world. It is not a matter of if but rather when.

CPA firms need to explore services that will equip them with deep insight, facilitate growth, and unlock opportunities. Among these solutions are combined tax and accounting services and tapping into remote talent. This will bring harmony to our profession, resulting in higher levels of efficiency and effectiveness throughout tax seasons. On the macro level, this way, firms may modernize their processes by optimizing technology and leveraging well-trained talent that is available to them.

At alliantTALENT, we are on a mission to help CPA firms capitalize on such opportunities and help them grow. Our team has over two decades of experience in the industry and has earned the trust of more than 4,500 CPA firms. This year, our resolution is to help CPA firms prepare for a more efficient tax season. What’s yours?

Warm regards,
Frank Tirelli

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