Future Looks Bright for Smaller Accounting Firms

There are over 40,000 CPA firms in the United States, and the vast majority of them would be classified as small firms; meaning they have revenues of under $3 million. A lot has been made in recent years of mergers and acquisitions among the handful of larger accounting firms, but these transactions are occurring for reasons that largely do not apply to smaller firms. Business Valuation

As we move forward into the second half of the 2010s, the future for small accounting firms remains bright, and there are several reasons for this. Some of the most important include:

Value-Added Services

A local CPA has the capability to provide the kind of added value to their offerings that would be difficult for medium-to-large sized regional or national accounting firms. On top of standard services such as bookkeeping and tax filings, a local accountant can more easily conduct in-depth analyses of the business and provide additional services that can be tailored to their needs and help save the client more money.

Personalized (Hands-On) Service

Most businesses in the U.S. are small; and as such, they generally prefer to work directly with the owner of the firm (at least on some level), rather than with a firm that has several layers of staff and a more complicated management structure. For a small business, the handling of their financial records is of critical importance; in fact, this can often make the difference between success and failure. For this reason, such businesses typically gravitate to smaller CPA firms.

Outsourcing Trends

In business today, the trend is toward outsourcing. This is particularly true for professional services such as accounting. With increasing compliance requirements from new laws such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), most businesses would rather leave the accounting headaches to professionals. This means that today, virtually every business, regardless of their size, is a potential client for an accounting firm.

Boundless Opportunities

There are so many opportunities to provide services to local businesses that small accounting firms have less incentive to merge with a larger firm. Accountants are generally very satisfied with their work and level of income. And they also know that there are plenty of opportunities to grow their clientele and revenues. Even if they do not take advantage of those opportunities, it is comforting to know that they are available whenever they want to take their firm to the next level.

Easy to Find Successor

In a smaller accounting firm, business succession planning is not really a major challenge. Some CPAs have children or other family members that are groomed and ready to take over the business. And for those who do not, there are plenty of prospective buyers that have the capital to purchase a smaller firm. For those looking to sell, the best strategy is to work with a business intermediary who has particular experience buying and selling CPA firms. An experienced business broker can help owners of small CPA firms fully plan their exit strategy and line up the right buyer to ensure a win-win transaction for everyone involved.

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