CPA Firm Challenges: Then and Now

For the last 10 years, Wolters Kluwer has sponsored an annual survey to help benchmark CPA firm challenges. Each year provides new insights into how firms are adapting to changes in the profession. However, looking at the results over the years uncovers several common threads running through the data. Although the specifics may evolve over time, the challenges now are not that different from those we uncovered 10 years ago.

The more things change…

  • Information Security. With security breaches in the news throughout 2017, it’s no wonder information security topped this year’s list of CPA firm challenges. But this wasn’t the first time this issue bubbled to the top of the list. It also made the top 5 in 2015, 2014, and 2012.
  • Keeping current with technology. almost 70% of surveyed firms cited keeping up with technology as a top challenge this year. Firms also recognized this as a top challenge in 2008. And issues related to digital mobility, remote connectivity, workflow automation, and cloud computing have made appearances in the top 5 over the years as well.
  • Growing the business. Growing the business was the number 3 CPA firm challenge on this year’s list. This was the number 1 concern for firms in 2008. In addition, growth-related challenges like  productivity issues and increased competition have also made the top 5 list in the past decade.
  • Increased regulatory complexity. Tax and accounting regulations get more and more complicated each year, it seems. That’s why regulatory complexity appears regularly in the list of top 5 CPA firm challenges. A few related challenges that have made the list include greater business internationalization, as well as inability to complete work accurately and on time.
  • Recruitment and retention. Rounding out the top 5 list of CPA firm challenges this year is recruitment and retention, with almost half of all firms citing this as a problem. This was the number one challenge in 2015. Back in 2008, retaining staff and talent recruitment were in the #4 and #5 spots, respectively. And in 2014, a variation on this theme emerged, with “generational workforce shifts” affecting a large number of firms.

CPA firm challenges are evolving

With technology transforming the way firms do business, CPA firms will need to continue to adapt. But it’s good to keep in mind that the challenges aren’t new. Firms that can solve these challenges will be in good shape as the issues continue to evolve in the future.

Prepare for CPA firm challenges now and in the future. To learn more about the survey, download the whitepaper “Integrated Cloud Solutions Help Firms Overcome Industry Challenges and Achieve Growth.”


Aimee Hall

Product Marketing Manager at Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting

All stories by: Aimee Hall