Rick Telberg
Rick Telberg

Busy Season and Economy Collide

CPAs brace for pain and uncertainty with cautious optimism, buoyed by signs the economy may have stabilized. How do CPAs really feel about the economy? Join the survey; get the answers.

February 16, 2010
by Rick Telberg/At Large

As busy season lurches into high gear, accountants are expressing more confidence in the outlook for their own firms and organizations, buoyed by signs the economy may have stabilized.

Indeed, on a scale of one to five, with five being the best outlook for their organizations, accountants are reporting an average grade of 3.26, up a marked 20 percent from the year-ago 2.62 index level, according to CPA Trendlines research for the AICPA.

How do CPAs really feel about the economy?

Join the survey; get the results.

(Free. Confidential.)

"The economy has probably hit bottom," says Joe Eckelkamp of St. Louis-based Eckelkamp & Co., "but it will be a while before it rebounds.  That means a lot of those who have been barely holding on will eventually lose their grip and face tough decisions on their future.  That's why I expect business failures to continue even though the worst of the overall economy has probably hit."

On the other hand, Robert Ingle at Wellesley Hills, Mass.-based Ingle & Company, reports a stronger business environment for his customer base, which he sees first-hand in the “willingness of clients to pay their bills.”

At Wendroff & Associates in Washington, D.C., Darren Wendroff reports solid growth and improvement since last year. “We made a lot of upgrades in technology and internal systems, which should allow things to run smoothly this tax season,” Wendroff says. “We're growing,” he says, so, more than last year, he’ll be focusing on “working with the new personnel and creating a cohesive team.”

Still, the economy remains uppermost in accountants’ minds.

Top 10 Issues for Busy Season 2010
1. General economic situation
2. Setting aside enough time to plan
3. Staffing issues
4. Tax code changes
5. Personal or family issues
6. Technology/software problems
7. New accounting and auditing issues
8. New office, technology or software processes
9. Competition from others
10 Partner or office issues
  Source: CPA Trendlines for AICPA

"We are seeing some positive signs," says Blake Christian from Holthouse  at Los Angeles-based Carlin & Van Trigt LLP and a regular correspondent for the AICPA Insider newsletters. He cites an "increase in M&A activity, banks being more hungry to make loans and a general sense of optimism among business owners."

Meanwhile, accountants this week will be working heads-down and hands-on through April 14th. While an uncertain economy looms in the background, they will be focusing on their practices and their clients. The economy will just have to wait.

BUSY SEASON: How’s busy season so far? Join the survey; get the results.

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Copyright © 2010 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.