The period of time after busy season is a perfect time to be introspective and plan ahead for accounting firms. It’s a good time to reflect on what went well and what needs to be improved.
The goal for each CPA should be around 40 hours of CPE per year. Smaller firms have the benefit of being able to arrange CPE for the entire firm where everyone can get their needed accounting, audit, tax or other CPE credits. Yearly updates should be one of the most important sessions of the year, so everyone learns the latest guidance and regulations. Without such training, technical knowledge can become outdated which can increase risks.
Firms should evaluate what generates sales for them and concentrate on these specific marketing initiatives. Management can eliminate expensive marketing tactics that do not generate positive return on investment. Marketing budgets should be reviewed and business plans should be updated accordingly.
Companies might face turnover, especially at year end. Searches for qualified individuals should be initiated at this time as well as for interns who can help with busy season. Sign-on bonuses should also be considered in some cases. Adopting new office policies around work-from-home arrangements are also popular and should be implemented to attract new skillsets.
Accountants must stay informed about new technologies like artificial intelligence, cryptocurrency and various software used in accounting, tax, marketing and other needs. Every office will need at least a couple of technology consultants, who will help with various problems the office is facing. Once the organization grows, a ticketing system can be implemented for IT personnel to fix specific problems. Cybersecurity specialists can also be hired internally. Various software can be compared at year end to be implemented with training related to this, so staff is ready by the beginning of the following year, but it’s best not to overburden staff with numerous changes every year. Data analytics tools can be used to analyze financial data and identify anomalies. Cloud computing and blockchain technology can reduce costs and provide security. Technological tools can create client efficiencies and will help staff to concentrate on actual accounting, auditing or tax issues instead of key punching or other repetitive tasks.
The management of the firm should update strategic plans in relation to market expansions, mergers and acquisitions, and medical, retirement and other benefits. Also, this is a good chance to recognize people who contributed to the success of the firm.
By starting early on year-end plans, firms will have more-efficient busy seasons and will increase chances of hitting their goals.