Emerging Opportunities for Top CPA Talent Driven by Growth and Succession

June 2013

The market in the New York Metro Area for CPA talent has never been stronger or more competitive. It’s hard for me to remember a time when so many good firms were looking so aggressively for a few good people.

Several factors are driving this trend, but most of them fall into two categories: growth or succession. It’s a good time to be a rising partner or on the partner fast track.

Firms are looking for several reasons:

Expansion of capabilities. Some firms need to add a service area to meet the needs of a group of existing clients. For example, a firm with a strong corporate tax and audit practice might decide to add an individual tax and personal financial planning division to meet client needs. They might decide, in this case, to bring in either a team of such professionals or a partner with a significant book of business.

Add depth and breadth. As a firm’s business grows, it might need to add experienced CPAs who can provide greater depth (more experience or knowledge) or breadth (knowledge and experience in related areas of client need) to the existing capabilities of the firm.

Meet specific management needs. A firm might find that the age of a number of clients justifies addition of an estate and trust capability, or that there is a need for a state and local tax specialist. Alternatively, new government regulations might make it necessary for the firm to have someone with the appropriate compliance experience to help business clients understand and satisfy the new regulations.

But there’s another factor driving the demand for CPA talent: Owner / Partner Succession.

Retirement and succession option:

Walk away. The least desirable alternative is probably to simply let the lease expire, close the doors, tell employees and clients you wish them the best, and walk away. This approach fails the owner, the employees and the clients. Without planning and hiring for succession, closing the doors is the unfortunate end of too many firms.

Merger or sale. These options provide an orderly transition for staff and clients to a future designed with some consideration for their needs. They also allow owners and partners to recognize some monetary value from their lives work building the firm.

Mentoring. On the other side, rather than merging into another firm or selling to another firm, many owners and partners plan for the future of the firm by designating and mentoring their successors. This can be accomplished merging with a smaller firm headed by someone with the experience and management skills to succeed as senior partner.

Internal or External Successors. Senior partners/founders could train and mentor an internal candidate for succession or they could hire a partner with a book of business who can both expand the firm immediately and lead the firm into the future. Another strategy we have helped execute is to seek out a younger sole practitioner or CPA/employee with a small practice to affect a transition plan.

For all of these reasons, opportunities abound for CPAs with the right skills, experience and attitude.

If you’d like to discuss this or any other issues related to your practice or career, please don’t hesitate to contact me: My direct line is (212) 490-9700. Or email me here.  Absolute confidentiality always assured.  - Robert Fligel, CPA

PS. See RF Resources featured in Crain’s NY article on CPA mergers, "From Minnows to Marlins".

Robert Fligel

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