Every industry and professional harbors unique challenges. For instance, police officers face dangerous criminals; for veterinarians, it’s uncooperative patients with sharp claws and teeth; carpenters, they strive to preserve all ten digits; and tightrope walkers…that darn gravity.
When thinking of professions with challenges, CPAs probably don’t quickly pop to mind – there’re no falling rocks, speeding cars, or human lives to save in the accounting office. Nevertheless, the sector does bear authentic challenges on its own.
Take a look at the top four challenges facing the accounting profession today and few suggestions for surmounting them.
Top 4 CPA Challenges1. Keeping Up with Technology
Technology sparks change in every industry, and the accounting and tax service sectors are not immune. Further evolved online tax return apps to web-based purchasing and ledger tech, like crypto currencies and blockchain, to firms’ in-house software have all fundamentally altered the CPA’s world. Customers also expect their chosen advisors to possess the latest technological bells and whistles.
What to Do
Dive into industry trade publications, attend industry-related technology conferences and webinars, and keep tabs on industry tech vendors for coming updates and new developments. And don’t forget social media to stay dialed in to what technology movers and shakers are doing and saying.
2. Cyber and Data Security
Where there’s technology, there’s a need for cyber and data security. With our world so interconnected, the sector has never been more vulnerable. Every bit of sensitive client and company information is converted to digital data.
And if it’s digital, it can be hacked. Cyber criminals find accountants to be lucrative targets and relentlessly refine their methods and weapons to infiltrate. Firms must make data security their top-most priority; the legal and reputational damage could be irreversible.
What to Do
Spare no expense for data protection tools and processes. Stay abreast of cyber crime trends and MOs; educate your entire staff about the ins and outs of cyber security and conduct regular refreshers; institute strict data security measures; be sure to know your legal compliancy requirements; develop an incident response plan; and regularly update software and apps.
3. Growing the Practice
Technology throws a third punch with advancements of online return filing, personal accounting software, and cryptocurrencies. The proliferation of these modernizations has degraded CPA’s traditional services to low-value status. Taxpayers want more and expect to pay less for it - if at all.
What to Do
With traditional-service interest waning, firms should consider expanding and promoting specialty services and seek other creative ways to secure new clients and maintain their current set, such as services to help clients manage and understand cyber risks.
Also writing blogs, articles, and social media posts will get you on web search radars. Of course, don’t forget the more traditional, tried-and-true methods such as networking and requesting – and rewarding – referrals.
4. Staying Up to Date on Tax Changes
Client trust and responsibility to the public stand as the nucleus of a CPA firm’s business. Taxpayers must feel confident that an advisor will know and understand the latest changes in tax code and regulation.
But with such a fluid environment convoluted by ambitious complexities, staying abreast of frequent tax law changes require profound diligence for CPAs.
What to Do
Efforts such as subscribing to the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) newsletter, participating in annual Continuing Professional Education (CPE) courses, updating tax software regularly, and frequenting federal and state tax resources, will work to keep your firm current.
These are just a few issues today’s accounting firms must conquer to remain competitive and grow their business.
Partnering with expert tax specialists can add another weapon to CPAs’ arsenals when handling intricate corporate tax affairs, such as cost segregation, employment-based tax incentives, and research and development (R&D) tax credits.
Seeking the guidance of a tax professional explicitly trained in those areas can help a firm augment its knowledge to provide superior services.