Rick Telberg
Rick Telberg

What CPAs Want for Christmas

Hint: They love their techie gadgets and gizmos. Next question: What to expect for busy season? Join the survey; see the results.

November 23, 2009
by Rick Telberg/At Large

If Thanksgiving is this week, then Christmas is just around the corner. And CPAs are readying their wish lists for Santa Claus.

What’s on your wish list? Whether it’s gizmos or gadgets, toys or tools … CPAs love their technological hardware and software.

Busy Season 2010: What to expect?

How to get ready?

Join the survey; get the results.

(Free. Confidential.)

To be sure, CPAs are a sensible lot, and their spending plans for their business purposes are led by practical things like laptops and scanners.

CPAs’ Top Tech Spending Plans

Laptop/Notebook 56%
Printer/Scanner/Copier/Fax 39%
Updating/Building Web site 39%
Desktop PC 37%
Server/Storage 35%
PDA/Smartphone 34%
Tax Software 33%
Accounting Software 29%
Social Media 21%
Office Software 20%
Starting E-newsletters 19%
Web-based Apps (SaaS, Cloud) 17%
Telephone Equipment/Service 15%
Office Network 12%
CRM Software 10%
Launching a Web Blog 10%
HR/Payroll Solutions 6%

(Source: CPA Trendlines survey by Bay Street Group LLC for AICPA)

But ask a CPA about his or her biggest tech crave and the answers are a lot more fun. BlackBerrys and iPhones and netbooks … oh my!

So if you’re just beginning to assemble that holiday gift list for that special accountant in your life, take note. And if you’re hoping to get that new gadget you’ve lusted after all year, then just casually leave this article in a place where it might be conveniently (and totally accidentally) discovered.

A battle is waging between those who can’t live without their BlackBerry and those who love their iPhones. But don’t count out the Microsoft operating system. And we’re still waiting to see what the Google Droid can do.

I’m not taking sides. And we’re not making any recommendations or endorsements here, just reporting what CPAs are telling us. So you’re on your own to make your own best gifting decisions.

Still, CPAs do seem to love their smartphones.

“The smartphone/PDA continues to revolutionize business,” says IT manager Bob Davis at Rea & Associates in New Philadelphia, Ohio. “As companies continue to find new and productive uses for their phones, you have to ensure your company is able to connect ‘anytime, from anywhere.’”

Robert Orange at Orange Financial Solutions in Atlanta, Ga., couldn’t live without his BlackBerry and/or the wireless card on his laptop.  “I am connected 24/7 all over the country,” he says.

There’s a managing partner at a midsized firm with a not-so-secret crush on his HTC Touch Pro. “It’s not just for email,” he says. He likes to check ESPN, reading books, doing crossword puzzles. “Hey,” he says, “everyone’s gotta have a break.” Who’d argue with that, especially considering he’s the boss?

Richard Lee   in Los Angeles loves his iPhone for enabling him to “receive and send messages on the fly.” And an accounting professor in Washington State loves her iPhone, for its “portability, versatility, and apps.”

Jerry McHale in Fort Myers, Fla., uses videoconferencing extensively in his turnaround and workout practice. But he gets his biggest kick out of voice recognition software that makes note-taking and reporting a breeze. In fact, a number of CPAs made a point of lauding Dragon Naturally Speaking for freeing them from their keyboards.

McHale is not the only one. Chasity Hooks at Hooks & Associates in Lafayette, La. uses the VLIngo voice commands on her BlackBerry. It helps keep her competitive as “an aggressive, young, up-and-coming firm focusing on the small business niche that bigger firms are dismissing.”

With the exception of the iPhone, Apple products have been slow to be accepted by accountants. But there are signs that’s changing.

Marja Beltrami at Beltrami & Associates PC in Anchorage, AK, swears by her 15-inch MacBook. With a 32-inch Mac Monitor and a Microsoft Small Business Server combo working in parallel, she calls the setup “Sweet!”

Jane Ryder at Ryder Professional Group in San Diego says she is “getting more and more mobile,” adding, with a wink, she’s expecting “my phone and notebook to get married or at least start living together.”

To round out the holiday gift list, don’t forget a Kindle, a portable CD/DVD player, Skycaddie golf range finder, Flip Mini HD camcorder or Wii. Each got enthusiastic mentions in our straw poll.

But my personal favorite has no wires or batteries.

It comes from Paul E. Hornbuckle at Valicenti Advisory Services in Elmira, N.Y. He loves a good corkscrew. His Screwpull from Le Creuset is Teflon coated and pulls a cork “effortlessly” in seconds. “No wine before it’s time,” Hornbuckle reminds us. “But why wait any longer than you have to?”

Why indeed?

BUSY SEASON FORECAST: What to expect? How to gear up? Join the survey; get the results.

COMMENTS: Rants, raves, questions, ideas? E-mail Rick Telberg.

Copyright © 2009 CPA Trendlines/BSG LLC. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission. First published by the AICPA.

About Rick Telberg

Rick Telberg is editor at large/director of online content.

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Disclaimer: Any views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the AICPA or CPA2Biz. Official AICPA positions are determined through certain specific committee procedures, due process and deliberation.