CPA Firms Defined by Results: Leaders and Laggards

by | Executive Coaching, Leadership

“The Seven Keys to Success in CPA Firm Management” is a report that you can download. It points out after much research that firms can be filtered by their results and some fall into the ‘Leaders’ category and some fall into the ‘Laggards’ category. Leaders excel in 7 areas, not surprisingly: Leadership, Technology, Learning Organization, Marketing and Business Development, A Great Place to Work, Client Service and Satisfaction, Strategy Execution. Here are a sampling of more specific areas where the leaders’ superior practices contribute to firms that gets results:

Adhering to a clear set of values… leaders 63%, laggards, 23%
Top management held accountable… leaders 55%, laggards 31%
Training that supports business strategy… leaders 34%, laggards, 10%
Training that supports personal goals… leaders 22%, laggards 8%
Targeting niches and specialties… leaders 38%, laggards 15%
Turn away and fire clients who don’t fit our target… leaders 25%, laggards, 5%
Work as a team, not as individuals… leaders 44%, laggards 12%
Management supports a healthy work/life balance… leaders 47%, laggards 25%
Every staffer is empowered to do what it takes to satisfy a client… leaders 38%, laggards, 12%
Business goals are specific and measurable… leaders 31%, laggards 3%
Regularly check progress against the business plan… leaders 30%, laggards 2%

Clearly, CPA firms that are leaders are engaged in practices being used in well managed companies from any industry. CPA’s, especially those who are managing partners, are business people. The age of the accountant who is expert at doing his clients’ accounting work but doesn’t give adequate time to strategic planning, client loyalty, staff and culture management, and business development is over. Accountants who don’t recognize this have their heads in the sand and will be left in the dust by those who do actively manage the business aspects of running their firms. So let me ask you some questions.

1.  Do you have a business plan?
2. Does it contain strong vision and values statements that are communicated to all staff?
3. Does everyone in the firm have specific and measurable goals so they can help achieve the strategies laid out in the business plan?
4. Are the staff being trained to support the strategy?
5. Are the partners being held accountable for their goals, too?
6. Have you identified your niches and ideal clients in those niches?
7. Have you ‘fired’ clients that don’t match your target criteria to make room for the better ones that do?
8. Does the firm believe in empowering staff to make decisions, work in teams, achieve personal goals, and achieve a healthy work/life balance?
9. Is your culture being managed?

If you can answer yes to each of those questions, then perhaps your firm is a leader also.
If not, then your firm most likely currently or will soon fall into the ‘laggard’ category. It’s never too late to get started on a turn around. It just may help you understand your clients better as well, as they are doing the same things to manage their businesses

Jeri Quinn

Jeri Quinn from Driving Improved Results is an executive coach, management consultant, speaker and author who focuses on communication in her work with executives and companies. She is the author of The Customer Loyalty Playbook, 12 Game Strategies to Drive Improved Results in Your Business. With more than 40 years as a serial entrepreneur.

Quinn has worked with executives and teams in over 40 industries, spoken at major business expos including New York City’s Javits Center, facilitated business development and extraordinary customer service at institutions such as MoMA and AIG, and has partnered with New York City, The Kauffman Foundation, Citibank, Merrill Lynch, HSBC, and Signature Bank to educate their clients.


She can be reached at:

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