modern accounting firm

Based on the headlines, recruiting challenges, rapid tech advancement, and the failure to meet clients’ evolving expectations are consistent problems for some accounting firms. 

What about those rapidly growing firms with modern processes, great cultures, and happy clients who happily send them referrals? What’s their secret?   

We work with thousands of accounting professionals every day. So, we compiled the top 7 characteristics we see successful, modern accounting firms all share.

1. They Build a Brand

Modern accounting firms understand the value of building a distinct brand. 

There’s no need to overthink this aspect of your business development. However, you should have the basics. 

Those include a modern website, a consistent color scheme across all assets, and a forward-thinking mindset and brand voice that clients can recognize in your content marketing. 

In the past, many accounting firms focused solely on client outcomes. The branding of their firm was an afterthought. 

Today, with competition rising across the accounting field, having a distinct brand identity helps you stand out among your peers and build recognition with potential new clients. 

From prospect to service fulfillment, your branding can extend much further than the design of your marketing materials. 

It can become a key part of your firm’s values and mission, revealing itself in positive and consistent client experiences that bring rave reviews and more referrals that grow your firm. 

To zero in on your brand, consider who your target market is and why your services matter to them. Think of how you want clients to perceive your firm and how you can reflect this in your website, online presence, and client interactions. 

Our beginner’s guide on building a brand provides further details and insights into this process. 

2. They Have Service Subscriptions

Many firms are future-proofing their business operations by creating subscription-based plans. They package their offerings into different tiers of service at value-based pricing structures. 

Clients appreciate the upfront pricing and can choose their level of involvement based on their budget and the unique and recurring needs of their own businesses. 

Offering plans with subscription-based pricing gives you a more predictable revenue pattern and stable cash flows throughout the year. 

You can ditch time tracking and billable hour quotas and dig deeper into client relationship management. Your employees can enjoy steadier workflows with less seasonality than traditional accounting services. 

To gain more insight on implementing this fixed-fee model into your firm, check out our Growing Your Firm podcast with Louie Vazquez III, CEO and founder of Vazquez and Associates

He used subscriptions to significantly scale his firm and shares his real-world experience on how this model spurred his recent growth. 



3. They Don’t Care about the “150-Hour Rule”

In the United States, prospective CPAs must complete 150 credit hours of education to become licensed, in addition to other requirements. 

For many who aspire to join the accounting profession, the rigorous educational requirements and cost of spending 5 years in college can deter potential CPA candidates. 

Given the ongoing talent shortages in the industry, several successful modern accounting firms are willing to overlook CPA qualifications in potential hires

However, this doesn’t mean they hire just anyone. These firms focus on applicants’ skills, are happy to train the right candidates, and offer opportunities for staff development. 

Placing less emphasis on the 150-hour rule can expand the talent pool, helping you find good employees for your firm. You can even consider candidates with more practical experience working at a CPA firm, even if they don’t have the official CPA title.   

To take this approach at your firm, consider establishing your own criteria for assessing candidates’ skills and experience. This way, you end up with quality talent on your team. 

4. They Are Technology Movers

Progressive accounting firms increasingly adopt software solutions to help drive operational efficiency. 

That doesn’t mean you should chase every new technological development, like artificial intelligence or cloud computing. 

However, leveraging the right technology and tools can help your employees regain valuable time and devote more energy to client work instead of tedious tasks.

For instance, you can integrate an accounting workflow management software like Jetpack Workflow into your firm. Then, your staff can spend less effort poring over clunky spreadsheets and more time on the client work that drives value. 

Adopting a helpful tool like Jetpack Workflow, built for accountants like you, can organize and standardize your client work so you can more easily scale your firm. 

Thousands of modern accounting firms already utilize Jetpack Workflow; learn more about how it works here

5. They Do Sweat the Small Stuff

Committing fully to delivering outstanding results for niche clients is an increasingly common characteristic in modern accounting firms. 

Successful firms focus on the clients they love serving, ensuring their services and customer experience go above and beyond to spur future growth. 

The value of this tactic is that it can help you drive client retention and build your referral business. If you have clients in a niche space, they likely require industry-specific services that are hard to find. 

Take the time to excel at these critical niche-specific tasks and position yourself as a leader in the field, earning more referrals from existing clients. 

You can make your firm the go-to advisor for clients within a specific industry. If you deliver exceptional service in your day-to-day operations, your current clients are more likely to recommend your services to other small business owners in their field. 

6. They Stay Humble

Successful firm owners in the modern marketplace stay humble and embrace a mindset of continual improvement. 

They join membership groups, attend in-person gatherings, listen to podcasts, and are active in accounting communities to sharpen their skills and learn from industry experts. 

Proactive firm owners know they can’t rely on last year’s progress. To continue providing client satisfaction and remain relevant in a fast-paced market, stay open to new ideas and take a serious look at opportunities to improve your services. 

To adopt this mindset, consider listening to podcasts like Growing Your Firm or joining communities offered by Future Firm Inc. or Jason Staats, CPA. You can get real-world insights and tips from leading industry professionals and keep yourself from growing stagnant. 

7. They Go Virtual

One way modern CPA firms tackle the challenges of accounting talent acquisition is by offering virtual or hybrid positions. With 9 out of 10 accounting firms struggling to fill vacant positions, the traditional approach of maintaining an entirely in-house staff may not be feasible. 

However, you don’t have to become a fully virtual organization to attract the right talent. Offering some kind of flexible work schedule can open your firm up to more diversity and a nationwide talent pool, not just people in your local area. 

Going virtual can also benefit your firm culture and existing staff, not just future employees. 

According to a recent survey conducted by KPMG, the key driver in 73% of firms offering remote work following the pandemic was requests from current employees. 

Allowing some flexibility is an excellent incentive and could go a long way toward employee retention. 

Consider which roles in your firm could be done remotely, even part-time. Poll your existing employees and gauge their interest. You could modernize your firm by offering remote work at least part of the week for the positions that make sense. 

See Jetpack Worflow In Action

Get under the hood of Jetpack Workflow’s accounting workflow and project management platform. See some of the top features and how it helps your firm standardize, automate, and track client work more efficiently.