• Colin Doyle CFO

How satisfying is CAS?

Client accounting services is one of the fastest growing service offering at accounting firms these days – but not all firms are getting everything they want from it, according to new research.

While the study by CPA Trendlines found that over half (55 percent) of firms offering CAS were at least satisfied with the financial and operational performance of the offering, a third were ambivalent, and 16 percent were actually dissatisfied.

Those results reflect the complexity of adopting a successful CAS model, which requires firms to shift from a compliance mindset to more of an advisory role, according to the study’s creators.

"CAS is an either-or enigma for many firms," said Hitendra Patil, the chief architect of the survey and director of customer success at AccoutantsWorld, in a statement. "As an accounting firm, you can either make more money with CAS or you can forever struggle with its challenges. You can't do both.”

“Firms are finding they need to clear a lot of obstacles to make it work," added Rick Telberg, founder and CEO of CPA Trendlines Research. "They're finding problems in rebuilding their technology systems, adjusting their workflows, training staff, converting skeptical or hide-bound partners, finding the right clients, pricing the offering, and in sales and marketing. Most of all, finding success in client accounting services demands a fundamental shift in the philosophy and mindset of each individual practitioner to cross the chasm from traditional compliance services to become the pro-active business advisor clients really want today."

Despite the hurdles and the concerns, however, the survey leaves little doubt that firms think CAS is a major part of their future. Among its other findings:

  • Nine out of 10 firms offering CAS today say it's "important to the firm's future."

  • Nine out of 10 cited improvements in "client satisfaction" due to CAS.

  • Eight out of 10 firms report CAS "provides superior revenue growth."

  • Eight out of 10 are "attracting new clients" with CAS.

  • Eight out of 10 said that CAS "creates new opportunities" for the firm.

The survey, which has been completed by over 8,000 CPA Trendlines subscribers, is still open to participants; those who reply will get a topline executive summary for free.

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