Leader or Laggard? Rate Your Firm

Check your job against these nine benchmarks. Then, join the study and see the answers from other CPAs.

April 17, 2008
by Rick Telberg/On Careers

In the battle for talent, accounting firms and finance managers are looking beyond simple solutions like compensation and benefits.

They know it takes more than that to compete in today's global knowledge market. Indeed, it's clear that success in recruiting and retention depends as much as, if not more, upon your organization's overall competitiveness than on your own offer package.

How do CPAs rate their firms?

Join the survey. Get the answers.

(Free. Confidential.)

You can divide the world of business into leaders and laggards. Importantly, CPAs who rate their employers as laggards, those inferior in comparison to the competition, are far more likely to feel high levels of stress on the job than those who rate their employers as leaders.

For example, one harried senior staffer calls hers a "bottom tier" accounting practice, marked by a "lack of effort to decrease workload or to hire new employees during slow times for efficient training."

At a small public practice, a managing partner who feels little stress, rates his firm above the local competition because, "We have very efficient procedures while having a high revenue to employee ratio."

So we've developed a few rules of thumb to help distinguish leaders from laggards:

Leading firms typically:

  1. use the most advanced technologies available,
  2. move toward paperless operations,
  3. document systems and processes for handling engagements,
  4. show strong business growth,
  5. enjoy high levels of client satisfaction,
  6. provide above average pay and benefits,
  7. have work-life balance initiatives in place,
  8. offer career growth tracks and
  9. are willing to fire problem clients.

Laggard firms, however, 

  1. are led by managements that are perceived as weak or disorganized,
  2. overlook opportunities to pursue additional business,
  3. lack documentation of internal processes,
  4. trail competition in utilization of technology,
  5. are chronically understaffed,
  6. have partners who bring in new business with no regard for the staff's ability to handle the workload,
  7. limit communication between owners and staff,
  8. fail to focus on adequate continuing professional education and
  9. deploy performance review systems that fail to discern individual achievements.

HOW DOES YOUR FIRM RATE? Join the survey; get the benchmarks.

ADD A COMMENT: Suggestions, questions, rants or raves? Contact Rick Telberg.

Copyright © 2008 CPA Trendlines/BSG LLC. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission. First published by the AICPA.