Sterling Management Survey Results: CPA Practices with Business Management Skills See 40% More Business

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The onslaught of frequently shifting laws, regulations and compliance requirements is demanding better internal organization in CPA firms. Where will it come from?

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CPAs are legally charged with upholding standards of integrity, objectivity, due care, competence and confidentiality, and also serve the public interest. To cover all of that, you need a well-oiled machine capable of moving faster than the speed of data.

Accountants currently face staggeringly rapid changes in the regulatory landscape that threaten to swamp those practices that can’t keep pace. CPA firms are charged with the responsibility of ensuring that their clients’ businesses run efficiently and profitably by planning, implementing and overseeing financial policies and procedures. But what if CPAs’ own offices are in chaos? Sterling Management, a company with 28 years of experience helping CPA practices run successfully, documented results of those who completed practice management training with the company, and found that a CPA practice normally experiences a 30% to 40% increase in production after just the first year, when they apply the management fundamentals taught in the program.

Kevin Wilson, CEO of Sterling, says that expert organization and management skills have become the commodities which determine failure or success in the business world. “CPAs are legally charged with upholding standards of integrity, objectivity, due care, competence and confidentiality, and also serve the public interest,” he said. “To cover all of that, you need a well-oiled machine capable of moving faster than the speed of data.”

CPAs were originally seen as “just accountants,” but because the world’s corporations are facing constantly increasing regulation and compliance mandates, CPAs are now among the most important decision makers, running the inner workings of their clients’ business by creating, analyzing and interpreting financial information. Without CPAs, the business world would have no idea whether to invest or hold back, add staff or scale back. They wouldn’t know which ventures are profitable or how productive their staff is. They might even unwittingly violate laws.

The results of Sterling's survey has led the company to offering in-depth business management training that goes far beyond the ubiquitous scratch-the-surface seminars and booklets. Each client receives a tailored program that includes workshops which explore the principles of key management basics and the training required to get them effectively implemented. They also are paired with a consultant and on-site training to transform staff into an efficient and coordinated team.

Case in Point:

Carlos Tanner feels he would have crashed both his practice and his family without the help he received from Sterling:

"In 2002, I made partner at the CPA firm where I had been working. By 2003, I was burned out. The practice was disorganized and inefficient. Although we did quality work, we acquired fewer clients as time went on. Working 80 hours per week, the stress was enormous.

"Sterling Management taught me that I could only make so many widgets in a day, which was the biggest barrier to our growth. Therefore, the first thing we did was restructure the workflow. We organized the practice and assigned specific functions to the staff. Productivity and efficiency shot up.

"One important change was in hiring. Sterling taught us techniques for hiring quality staff, and we saved tremendous time and aggravation by learning how to identify the right staff for our practice.

"Now we’ve grown from a four-man shop to 20 staff. My gross billings and collections have increased by 475% and profitability is up by 45%. What a change!"

Wilson says that testimonials like this are common—but in addition to the in-house gains CPAs are having, they’re also discovering that they can expand their services to include management training and consulting for their clients. “It goes hand-in-glove with the organization they’re already putting into a client’s financial compliance programs,” says Wilson. “By just following the money, they can already spot and handle many bottlenecks and inefficiencies.”

About Sterling:

Founded in 1983, Sterling has been the dominant player in the practice management consulting field for over three decades. By survey, active Sterling clients see a 10% to 20% increase in production in the first four to six months, and a 30% to 40% increase within the first year. Sterling CEO Kevin Wilson is not only a highly-trained administrator and consultant; he has published the widely-read human resources book, Personnel: Your Most Valuable Resource or Greatest Burden. All told, Sterling has delivered over 500,000 hours of business consulting and achieved more than 135,000 training completions among 175,000 business professionals from 1,700 cities in every state in the nation. The company has won more than 75 local, national and international awards, including twice appearing on the Inc. 500 list of America’s fastest-growing, privately-held companies. For more information, visit

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Karla Jo Helms
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