Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

Top Concern of FVS Practitioners: Business Development: The Financial Fallout from the Great Recession Has Prompted a Shift in Priorities of Forensic and Valuation Services Accountants, Survey Finds

Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

Top Concern of FVS Practitioners: Business Development: The Financial Fallout from the Great Recession Has Prompted a Shift in Priorities of Forensic and Valuation Services Accountants, Survey Finds

Article excerpt

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

* "Bringing in new clients" ranked as the top issue facing respondents in the 2013 FVS Membership Top Issues Survey. Eighty-seven percent of survey respondents thought that bringing in new clients was somewhat or extremely important, with 63% choosing extremely important.

* Another business development-related concern, "client retention; placed third in the new survey. "Fee pressure/pricing of services" and "firm differentiation through services," both of which influence a firm's ability to attract and retain clients, placed fourth and fifth, respectively.

* The last FVS top issues study was released in 2010. Back then, technical concerns were top of mind; "keeping up with professional standards" was No. 1, while "keeping up with the evolving valuation body of knowledge" placed second.

* New valuation standards were issued in 2008, and practitioners still faced a learning curve when the previous survey was issued in 2010. Five years later, most firms have completed implementation of those standards.

* With technical concerns on the decline, FVS accountants refocused their attention on attracting new clients. That's a constant business challenge that abates from time to time but never entirely disappears for FVS practitioners.

* The new survey also found that holding on to talented staff is a top priority for FVS firms. That's especially true since many older professionals from the Baby Boomer generation are looking for experienced leaders who can take over their firms one day.

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The top priorities of forensic and valuation services (FVS) accountants have changed drastically over the past few years, with business development concerns outpacing technical issues, according to a new AICPA study.

The 2013 FVS Membership Top Issues Survey (available at tinyurl.com/bmswpkt) found that "bringing in new clients," the classic business development imperative, ranked as the top issue facing respondents. A resounding 87% of survey respondents thought that bringing in new clients was somewhat or extremely important, with 63% choosing extremely important.

Another business development-related concern, "client retention," placed third. "Fee pressure/pricing of services" and "firm differentiation through services," both of which influence a firm's ability to attract and retain clients, placed fourth and fifth, respectively. The human resources mainstay of "retaining qualified staff" ranked second.

The survey findings are based on responses from CPAs in firms ranging from sole practitioner to large, full-service public accounting firms and from forensic and/or valuation specialty practices.

The results were a striking shift from 2010, when the last such study was released. Back then, technical concerns were top of mind; "keeping up with professional standards" was No. 1, while "keeping up with the evolving valuation body of knowledge" placed second. "Bringing in new clients and client retention," then categorized as a single response option, placed third in 2010. In the latest survey, keeping up with professional standards ranked 20th, while keeping up with the evolving body of knowledge was 16th.

"NEW" STANDARDS NOW OLD HAT

At first the results from the 2013 survey seem counterintuitive. While the U.S. economy is sputtering along, it has improved noticeably over the past three years. So if business development concerns weren't the most important issue back in 2010, why did they rise to the top now?

The answer centers on timing, though not that of the economic recovery. New valuation standards were issued in 2008, and practitioners still faced a learning curve when the previous survey was issued, said Eva Simpson, project manager for the FVS Section at the AICPA. Five years later, most firms have completed implementation of those standards.

With technical concerns on the decline, FVS accountants refocused their attention on attracting new clients--a constant business challenge that abates from time to time but never entirely disappears for FVS practitioners. …

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