Small Firm Resource Center

Small Firm Resource Center2023-10-17T16:02:27-04:00

Navigating the intricate landscape of accounting can be challenging, especially for small CPA firms. That’s why we’re launching our exclusive Small Firm Resource Center tailor-made for CPAs like you. From the latest in accounting technology to best practices, this center is your one-stop hub for all things essential.

We value your on-the-ground experience and invite you to submit your innovative ideas and suggestions to enrich our community and resources further. Dive in, collaborate, and let’s make this platform unparalleled!

Complete the form on this page, and a member of our team will be in touch to help grow your ideas into useful resources for your peers around the state.

Thank you for your input! These resources will continue to grow and evolve, thanks to your contributions. Explore the full page to see the entirety of the Resource Center! 

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Small Firm Article Library

SCACPA has published several articles to help small firm practitioners build their businesses, especially in the areas of entrepreneurship. Check out some of these articles here!

Best Practices for Small Firms by Small Firms

SCACPA members are invited to submit their best practices for managing small firms for inclusion. Help others learn from your success! See what your peers are saying below!

Submitted by David Knoble, CPA, MAC, CGMA
Knoble Ingle CPAs, LLP
Rock Hill

As with the purchase of any Certified Public Accounting firm, clients may have records that were held by the previous firm and may wish for those records to be returned.

Below is the process for XYZ CPA Firm to identify and return any client records requested:

Records are defined in South Carolina Statute 40-2-190 and consist of two record types also defined in Statute 40-2-20:

  • Client records
  • CPA-prepared records

CPA firms are required to return such records in their possession to a client or former client upon request and reasonable notice. Client records consist of original documents provided by the client or on behalf of the client, as well as electronic records provided on behalf of the client which the client does not possess. CPA-prepared records are records prepared by our firm that are not in the client’s records and cause the clients records to be incomplete without them. Examples of CPA-prepared records include adjusting journal entries and their computations, depreciation and fixed asset reports, and details to amounts reported in the financial statements or tax returns that were engaged by the client.

Note that the work products contained in an engagement letter, once delivered, may be provided a second time by our firm for a fee due at the time of pickup. In addition, documents only available on paper may be available on paper or electronically at the choice of our firm.

Our firm process for returning these records is outlined below:

  1. Provide a written request of the specific documents you believe we have, and that should be returned to you. If any documents you list are not considered client records or CPA-prepared records, we will not provide those documents. If you are requesting documents for a taxpayer you represent, you must provide an original signed power of attorney or other original signature legal document for our files, authorizing us to provide you with those documents. Without signed authorization, we cannot provide documents to anyone other than the owner.
  2. All CPA-prepared records that have been previously delivered, electronically or otherwise, will incur a fee based on the type of records (paper or electronic) and the time and effort to locate and copy the records.  The current time frame for duplicate records is longer than 30 days. Note that records delivered electronically are considered previously delivered and paper copy requests will incur a fee.
  3. All client records and CPA-prepared records that were not previously delivered, electronically or otherwise, will be available for pickup, typically within 30 days of the request. For those that cannot pick up their records from our firm’s office, there will be additional time necessary for packing and shipping and all shipping costs must be prepaid prior to the return of documents. There is no fee for picking up documents at our firm’s office.

Incomplete lists or failure to indicate specific records needed will delay the processing time to provide records.  If records were not provided to our firm upon purchase of the prior firm, we will inform you that we do not have the records and will close your record request. We are not able to respond to status inquiries after the original request, but we will inform you once your records are ready for pickup, and you may make any necessary payments at that time.

If you have questions about this procedure, please email me at records@XYZCPA.com.

Submitted by Chris Hervochon, CPA, CVA
Chris Hervochon, CPA, CVA LLC
Hilton Head

Summary:

Below is the email we sent to customers when we started down the offshore patch.

TLDR(Too Long/Didn’t Read):

What we are doing: We are bringing on another offshore staff person, located in India, to focus on tax returns, tax planning, estimated taxes and general tax questions.
Why we are doing it: Tax work is important and the volume of our work in this area necessitates a full-time person. Unfortunately, after 11 months of effort, we have been unable to fill this role onshore.
What will be the impact for you: Our goal is to provide you with turnaround times related to tax matters that are much faster than you’ve experienced recently.
What you will need to do: The IRS requires tax preparers to furnish a disclosure to clients if client tax information will be accessed offshore. Therefore, we will be sending you a disclosure notice via DocuSign to sign.

More information (the FAQs):

Why are you hiring offshore? As you know, our turnaround times for tax services have been unacceptably slow. Additionally, the US tax business has been very difficult the last few years, even pre-COVID, and was exacerbated by the pandemic. The pipeline of CPAs has been decreasing for roughly the last decade, in fact, the CEO of SCACPA (South Carolina Association of CPAs) told me last night at dinner that college program enrollments are down about 30% over the last two years. On top of that, IRS and state backlogs have grown to historic levels and the tax code is only getting more complex. Simply put, these factors have driven a number of people out of the profession (plus roughly 75% of CPAs are of retirement age) and the pipeline has not existed for quite some time to replace them. We have tried for 11 months to hire onshore, offering a six-figure salary with unlimited PTO and solid benefits, but we have not found qualified candidates that we feel can deliver the service we want to deliver.
You can hire onshore, just pay more: We could pay more and possibly get a qualified candidate. However, we feel as though we would have to raise fees to an uncomfortable level to make that model economically viable. Plus, we have access to a talented global workforce, so why not take advantage of that? This is both about the cost and the quantity of tax talent in the U.S.
Who are you hiring?: As you know, [staff contact] has been with us for about 6 months and he is located in the Philippines. He comes to us through [offshore partner] and is a valued member of the team. We are bringing on an additional teammate in India, [new teammate name], who will be coming to us through a partnership with [partnership name here].

You already have an offshore staff, why are we signing a disclosure now?: [Staff contact] has only worked on accounting for businesses, though he would like to learn tax in the future. [New teammate] will be working solely on tax.
Are your offshore staff full-time or part-time? Do they work for other firms?: Our offshore staff are full-time and are dedicated solely to our firm.
Will my spouse need to sign the disclosure?: Yes.
When will I receive the disclosure to sign?: Later today or tomorrow.
Who prepared the disclosure?: The disclosure form template was provided to us by our insurance carrier.
How did you choose your [partnership company]?: We chose these partners because they have wide adoption in the accounting community already – hundreds of firms they each support. Additionally, firm owners that I know, like and trust use these services. We are partnering with a third party so we can effectively outsource local labor law compliance as well as data security.
Will my data be secure?: As always, we will take every precaution we can to make sure your data is secure. Both of our offshore teammates will be working in an office building that is monitored and controlled by physical security. Cell phones are not allowed at their desks, there is no paper, and USB ports are disabled. Access to the applications our firm uses are restricted to only the IP addresses of those buildings via Practice Protect. Finally, offshore teammates are only given access to client files that they absolutely need to have access to.
Will the work be accurate?: Yes. The Big 4 accounting firms (Deloitte, PWC, KPMG and EY), among others, have been outsourcing tax preparation to India for years. Therefore, a large talent pool exists in India of US tax talent, and a similar pool of accounting talent in the Philippines. Plus, all work will still be reviewed by an onshore team member. Essentially, we are currently keeping the quality control onshore and moving the preparation offshore.
What if I don’t want an offshore team member to work on my tax return?: That is your option and we can keep it solely onshore. However, turnaround times will continue to be slow.
Are you only going to hire offshore from now on?: No, our three-year plan includes a forecasted mix of onshore and offshore teammates.
Of course, if you have any questions or concerns please let me know. If you’d like to book a meeting with me to discuss this, or any other matters, here is a link to my calendar.

Disclaimer

Statements of fact and opinion are made by the authors/contributors alone and do not imply an opinion on the part of the officers, staff, or members of SCACPA. This content is provided as a courtesy to SCACPA members and should not be considered legal or tax advice.

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