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advocacy community education
Over the next five to 15 years, a large
number of Baby Boomer CPA firm own-
ers will reach retirement age, yet
according to the 2008 American
Institute of Certified Public Accountants
(AICPA) Private Companies Practice
Section (PCPS) Succession Survey,
only 35 percent of multi-owner firms and
nine percent of sole proprietor firms
have planned for their firm succession.
More recently, the 2010 AICPA
Practice (MAP) Survey results reported
that only 30 percent of the 117 firms
participating in the survey from the
New England states had a succession
plan in place.
The Essentials of a Succession Plan
Succession planning involves a con-
scious effort by the owners of the firm
to develop steps to transfer control
with minimal disruption to the remain-
ing members of the firm and while
maintaining continuity of service to the
clients. Common succession models
a. Transferring leadership within the
b. Merging with another firm,
c. Selling the firm to an outsider, and
d. Closing the doors and walking away.
The method chosen depends upon the
type of firm and the needs of the retiree.
As a first step, firm leaders should
develop a timeline for succession plan-
ning. The earlier the leader addresses
succession planning, the more options
and opportunities will be within reach.
Set the desired retirement date and
work backwards. As the plan develops,
adding intermediate action steps will
help keep the plan on track.
Thoroughly analyze the firm. What are
the firm's strengths and weaknesses?
What industries does the firm service?
What are its areas of expertise? Are
the staff resources properly trained or
underutilized? Are the fees appropriate
and competitive?
ill you still be working when you are 70 years old? Do you know that you
should start thinking about your retirement, but because you do not know
where to begin, you just keep putting off the process? If so, you are not alone.
By Pamela Q. Weaver, DBA, CPA and Marie G. Kulesza, MSPA, CPA
CPA Firm Owners:
Reluctant Retirees
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