CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business just released an interesting survey result titled “The Economy and Accounting Firms”. It surveyed 100 U.S. accounting firms and found that even in a contracted economy, more firms reported being unable to fill open positions than having to lay off staff over the past year. Fifty-six percent said they plan to ramp up hiring as the economy improves. Qualified staff is already in short supply, however, at the same time that older workers are heading toward retirement. According to the survey, only 4 percent of firms have seen their staff members delay retirement because of the economy. Yet 26 percent of the firms hope to retain or hire older employees as the economy improves as a strategy to fill positions with qualified staff.
The survey was conducted by phone for CCH by Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) from August 6-24, 2009 and included in-depth interviews with 100 partners in U.S. accounting firms. The survey reflects experiences of randomly polled accounting firms ranging in size from firms with five to more than 100 employees.
Here is the survey result:
- 20% We have been unable to find the right people to fill open positions
- 18% We had a hiring freeze
- 12% We have had to lay off staff
- 4% We have had staff delay retirement
- 2% We have had furloughs
Expectations For Economic Recovery
As to when accounting professionals expect the economy to recover, the vast majority of the surveyed firms expect to see an economic recovery begin in the next 6-8 months and predicted that the economy would improve before 2011, with 55 percent reporting that the recovery would happen this year (28 percent) or by the first half of 2010 (27 percent). Twenty-nine percent believe the recovery will happen in the second half of 2010. Only 13 percent think we’ll have to wait until 2011 to see better days, and 3 percent were unsure.
- In the second half 2010 = 29%
- By End of 2009 = 28%
- By the first half 2010 = 27%
- Not Until 2011 = 13%
- Not sure = 3%
Firm’s Rate; Holding Rates Steady
Most firms froze rates, however, nearly as many raised rates over the past year. No firms reported cutting rates:
- 54% We have frozen rates
- 46% We have increased rates
Watching the Bottom Line
During tough economic times, firms reported they are more closely watching accounts receivables, productivity and technology investments.
- 81% We are more closely monitoring accounts receivables
- 68% We are more closely monitoring staff productivity
- 57% We are more carefully measuring technology ROI
Practice Management And The Economy
Good practice management practices are important in managing firm performance through difficult times.
- 92% Strong practice management is important in ensuring we can manage through a recession
- 90% Firms with strong practice management procedures will be able to recover more quickly from a recession