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advocacy community education
The AICPA makes extensive resources
related to succession planning avail-
able to its members. However, sole
proprietors and smaller firm owners
underutilize these resources and may
prefer to look to their state CPA soci-
eties for guidance. Historically, the
issue of succession planning for sole
proprietors and small firm owners has
not been markedly addressed by state
CPA societies.
The CSCPA study addressed what
function, if any, state CPA societies can
have in assisting publicly practicing
members in planning for firm succes-
sion and what types of information and
services related to firm succession, if
any, do publicly practicing members of
a state CPA society expect the society
to provide to the membership.
In looking at the function the CSCPA
may have in assisting members in
planning for firm succession, 177
respondents (or 91 percent) indicated
either that the CSCPA should develop
comprehensive educational programs
or limit its involvement to running sem-
inars that deal with succession educa-
The overwhelming positive
response indicates that the respon-
dents do, in fact, look to the CSCPA to
provide assistance in planning for firm
succession. Sole proprietors were the
largest group of respondents support-
ing the CSCPA's involvement in the
succession planning process. As firm
size increased, the responses in sup-
port of the CSCPA's involvement
dropped off considerably, to less than
10 percent. A small group, evenly dis-
tributed among firm size, felt that the
CSCPA should not provide information
regarding succession issues.
A follow-up question gave respondents
an opportunity to select the types of
information they believed would be
helpful with succession planning
issues. Respondents were encouraged
to check all responses that applied.
The top choice with 152 responses
was articles on various succession
Secondly, 134 respondents
selected list of frequently asked ques-
tions and answers
. The third choice,
with 125 responses, was planning sug-
gestions and timeline.
Respondents also designated continu-
ing education seminars on the topic of
succession planning
as well as classi-
fied ads marketplace for buyers and
as useful resources in their suc-
cession planning process. This is of no
surprise considering 85 percent of
respondents indicated that they rely on
the CSCPA for continuing professional
education. Table 1 (next page) reports
the full range of responses.
Recognizing the strong interest of its
members, the CSCPA has made
strides in meeting the interest of its
members by creating opportunities and
resources to assist in succession plan-
ning. At the recent CPA Succession
Symposium (see page 33), nearly 120
firm leaders received information on a
broad range of succession topics. In
addition, the CSCPA recently launched
website (see page 32) to foster commu-
nication between potential buyers and
sellers of CPA firms and to provide infor-
mation on a variety of succession topics.
Thinking about retirement is difficult
and committing the plan to writing can
seem insurmountable. Some firm own-
ers avoid the issue by making the deci-
sion to reduce workload gradually
through client attrition and just walk
away. Others just choose to do noth-
ing. Although simple, these approach-
es involve no cash inflow for the value
of the business. In addition, a lack of
planning can leave your clients and
employees hanging, should something
happen to you prematurely.
When developing a succession plan,
firm owners must determine the best
succession option for their individual
facts and circumstances. Firm own-
ers need to consider several ques-
tions in evaluating the various
succession options:
1. What result do you want from the
succession plan? What are your
financial expectations for retirement
and how does the succession plan
contribute to those expectations?
2. How much time do you have until
your desired retirement age?
Shorter lead times can constrain
your options.
3. Will you continue to work after the
transition and are you willing to accept
(continued on next page)
Chart 1: Succession Plan