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(Have Website – Will Pontificate)

These days everyone seems to be an ‘influencer’ or a ‘thought leader’. I recently went on the internet to find out what people were saying about importantant issues facing CPAs. Not surprisingly the issues discussed by the self-appointed thought leaders on the internet differed substantially from those being reported by CPAs themselves.

A marketing company says that tax compliance is now a commodity and businesses can do it themselves. Apparently that is the number one issue facing CPA firms. Clients only need online software and presto…the taxes are filed.

The marketing company echos what another would be influencer – this time a software devolper – says about AI (artificial intelligence – i.e. software) displacing tax experts. Sometimes though ‘actual intelligence’ – or rather experience and study – is more important than “AI”.

A study by the AICPA for the 2019 year found that for small firms with between 2 and 20 partners, ‘keeping up with changes and complexity of the tax laws’ was the 2nd most important issue facing the firms. For sole practitioners it was the No. 1 issue.

So how is it that for the acknowledged tax experts – American CPAs – tax issues aren’t simple? They actualy use better and more expensive tax software than their counterparts in business. The truth is, tax software isn’t expert software, it’s software for experts. That’s a lot different.

For everyone other than sole practitioners, ‘finding qualified staff’ was the main issue. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that sole practitioners simply don’t have staff, since it’s too expensive to retain them for what amounts to seasonal work (the 3rd most important issue for firms with 2 to 20 partners – and 5th most important issue for sole practitioners and large firms) and they can’t make money from qualified staff.

The marketing company calls itself MARKET FIT – presumably derived from startup culture and PRODUCT – MARKET – FIT (i.e. Value Proposition Design). The writer probably took the course at business school and is using his internet presence to get traffic.

His second issue – staffing challenges – he got right. It’s probably true even for the sole practitioner who has basically given up on finding staff and is doing it all himself (or herself).

The third issue – ‘Marketing and Selling Your Services’ – is certainly very important to a marketing consultant. It doesn’t however show up on the top 5 issues for firms of any size.

So how did he arrive at his number one issue?

He read a book by another ‘entrepreneur and thought leader’ Rob Nixon, CEO and co-founder of PANALITIX. Surprise, surprise – Rob Nixon’s ‘schtick’ is to sell assistance with offering advisory services to CPA firms…

Since 1994, Rob Nixon, CEO and co-founder of PANALITIX, has coached and taught accountants how to run profitable and efficient firms. He is an entrepreneur who has been running successful businesses since 1986. His latest innovation, PANALITIX, is cloud software which enables accountants’ to offer real time business advisory services their clients.

An industry thought-leader, whose speaking engagements have taken him around the world.

In the age of “fake news” you always have to understand the biases and perspectives of the person speaking. For the most part ‘thought leaders’ are looking to become acknowledged experts by getting their name in print. Sometimes they even produce thoughtful and useful content.

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