Statements of fact and opinion are the authors’ responsibility alone and do not imply an opinion on the part of PICPA officers or members. The information contained in herein does not constitute accounting, legal, or professional advice. For professional advice, please engage or consult a qualified professional.

Accounting Firms at a Crossroads: New Research in Pa. Points the Way Forward

Jennifer Cryder, CPABy Jennifer Cryder, CPA, PICPA CEO

The PICPA believes that strong accounting firms make for a stronger profession. Accounting firms of all sizes are essential in helping to maintain public trust in the marketplace and at all levels of government. It is the PICPA’s mission to serve, support, and advocate for the profession and be a meaningful resource for accounting firms in Pennsylvania.

But, accounting firms in Pennsylvania are under a lot of pressure today. They are struggling to address unrelenting talent shortages, rapidly evolving business models and the need to remain relevant, and a host of growing cybersecurity threats. These challenges have many accounting firm leaders concerned about the future of their firms and the profession as a whole.  

Cover of the white paper State of Pennsylvania Accounting Firms in 2023This is why Insights, PICPA’s research function, commissioned a study of Pennsylvania accounting firms in late 2022 to gain a better understanding of how solopreneurs, small, and midsize firms are addressing the core problems mentioned above. We gathered data around their structure and performance, approaches to hiring and retaining talent, service and practice models, and technology and cybersecurity practices. This research culminated in a white paper, data dashboard, and infographic that give you an opportunity to benchmark your firm against others to get a clear-eyed view of where the profession is headed and where you need to be.

While the revelations provided in our State of Pennsylvania Accounting Firms research are broad and deep, it seems that, in many ways, technological maturity remains very low for many firms. This poses a great risk when seeking solutions to solve the staffing crunch. The PICPA offers several learning programs to help you build a tech stack that enables your firm to streamline operations and remain in sound cybersecurity compliance.

In the past, the business model for accounting firms was pretty simple. Not anymore. Pennsylvania’s accounting firms offer a wide range of services, many of which are nontraditional. For example, almost 7 in 10 firms (68%) already offer advisory services. This mirrors a larger national trend of firms employing more nontraditional hires and offering a broader range of services. With today’s complex and unpredictable business environment, this trend makes a lot of sense. Clients have a clear need for assistance in making better business decisions, and, as trusted advisers, your accounting firm can be one of the first places to turn. The PICPA continues to build resources and programs to support firms diversifying their services.

A complementary trend is the rise of alternative billing models, such as value billing, flat-fee pricing, subscription pricing, and bundling. For example, almost 8 in 10 small firms (78%) are using one or more of these techniques. The Insights white paper outlines which pricing models are used for which services in each of the three firm sizes. This is new territory for many firms, so it’s important to know what is already working.

In times of great uncertainty there is also great opportunity. We are in one of those times. Important societal trends and technological advancements are reshaping the accounting profession. By understanding the trends and gaining key insights, your firm can be on the winning side of this realignment. This is exactly what PICPA’s Insights research is aimed at helping you achieve. Download the white paper and look for more resources on this crucial issue in the months ahead.  

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Statements of fact and opinion are the authors’ responsibility alone and do not imply an opinion on the part of the PICPA's officers or members. The information contained herein does not constitute accounting, legal, or professional advice. For actionable advice, you must engage or consult with a qualified professional.

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