Growing your BV practice means ‘putting yourself out there’

BVWireIssue #114-4
March 28, 2012

The good news: Less than a quarter (23.1%) of respondents to our latest online poll saw their BV firms lay off employees during the economic downturn, although one participant admitted, “We cut staff by nearly 50% and required the remaining staff to be more efficient and productive.” Still another said it wasn’t the economy that prompted staff cuts: “They could not do the work.”

The current talent shortage combined with an uncertain economy may have tempered most practitioners’ expansion plans. Roughly half of survey participants (53.3%) plan to hire new employees in 2012, but, “We are replacing only terminated employees,” comments one. Says another, “We do not plan on hiring new employees until we see some stabilization of pricing in the market.” Another is looking for “professionals who want to work.”

During the downturn, more participants focused externally, on business development, than internally, on improving processes (although about a third split their time equally between the two). “You have to treat marketing like a client,” says one respondent. “Keep paying attention to it during the good times and the bad.” In making renewed marketing efforts, nearly 70% of respondents said they were encouraging practitioners to publish, speak, and/or participate in professional events. ”Putting yourself in front of a target audience is the best marketing that one can do,” says one. “No one has time to read the newsletters and firm brochures, and [people] are too busy for lunches.”

As for solid and emerging growth areas, survey participants checked off forensic accounting, consulting services (M&A and succession planning), shareholder disputes, matrimonial, and healthcare. Fair value for financial reporting—in particular, 409(a) work—shows little or no opportunity for growth, they say. Surprisingly, a third of respondents (63.7%) believe that both tax (estate and gift) and bankruptcy work are on the wane. At least one noted that “other related fields, such as personal injury and wrongful death damages calculations, and lost profits calculations,” could be on the rise. “We are seeing more traditional CPAs deciding to offer [BV] because their traditional practices of tax and audits have not grown,” observes one, but “they forget about the ‘damages’ of having a valuation, forensic, and litigation services department in their CPA firms.”

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