Platt’s Perspective: What’s On The Agenda At Partner Meetings

As IPA talks with MPs around the country about the state of the profession in their local markets, the mood is pretty positive, but we’re seeing some interesting issues. Here is a quick snapshot:

  • Job opportunities are opening up and the need is stronger than ever to hold on to quality staff. Some markets are looking at a 5% salary increase to remain competitive, while some hot markets are considering twice-a-year salary increases.
  • Private companies are as aggressive as other CPA firms in poaching staff. Many experienced staff are leaving pUblic accounting altogether in search of greener pastures, yet in some markets they are coming back as they realize that the grass isn’t always greener.  The next few months will be the strong test of turnover at many firms.
  • In particularly competitive markets, regional firms are still discounting quotes on audit proposals by 30% to 50% of standard to buy jobs. The not-for-profit sector is being hit especially hard, as those clients are being trained to demand significant discounts from their auditors.
  • Some firms are looking for unique ways to add value to their client relationships. We’ve heard of a couple of cases in which the CPA firm is tapping into its network of contacts to help introduce new customers to its client, including introducing the AICPA to a not-for-profit membership organization.
  • Growth opportunities in the international arena dominate discussions in partner meetings among the Top 200 firms. Increased utilization of international associations should help push this growth area, but associations need to come up with easy-to-follow standard protocols of engagement to help facilitate joint engagements.
  • 2012 may be the year that many Top 200 firms wake up and tap into the power of social media. While this has been an experimental area for the last few years, serious attention is finally being paid to integrating all the pieces of the social media world into a coordinated firmwide strategy. Firms are wrapping their arms around iPhone and iPad apps that they can develop to help with both client and staff communication issues.
  • In many cases, we are seeing overall hours down, top-line revenue up slightly, but overall profitability and net income up. One of the benefits of the recession is much closer attention to working smarter, growing value and reducing expenses.
  • Discussions among Top 200 firms about joining forces – and speculation about mergers – continue to abound. As evidenced in this month’s cover story, mega-mergers and getting bigger to satisfy market demand continue to drive growth strategies in many firms.

IPA will continue to monitor the state of the profession around the country and will report the highlights to you in this newsletter, in the National Benchmarking Report, at The PRIME Symposium, and in presentations throughout the year. If you are interested in the Platt Group’s 360-degree view of what’s happening in the areas of growth, client retention, staff retention and other innovations, call (317) 733-1920.