Survey: Business CAS practices explode with 20% growth


NEW YORK–(COMMERCIAL THREAD) – Customer Advisory Service (CAS) practices reported a median growth rate of 20%, better momentum than the 15% projected, and significantly better performance than others practice areas, according to a new survey by and the American Institute of CPA (AICPA). Interestingly, survey data from the early months of the global pandemic indicated similar growth, suggesting that these advisory services are a critical part of the ongoing operations of small businesses during tough economic cycles.

CAS has been the fastest growing public accountancy consulting field and is expected to continue its impressive trajectory, according to the and AICPA PCPS Client Advisory Services Benchmark Survey, which surveyed a representative sample of American companies offering offers in this area. . The report collected data for fiscal year 2019 and early 2020, reflecting the onset of the pandemic. When the survey was last conducted in 2018, CAS practices reported a growth rate of 12%.

The survey also indicated that CAS practices are profitable, with median profit margins of 34% for all companies and 47% for top performing companies. This compares favorably with the margins of 28% to 34% for all of the firm’s service categories, as reported by other benchmark surveys for the profession.

CAS companies have also handled remote working well during the pandemic, especially the top performing companies that have embraced the digital switchover, enabling efficient workflow solutions and cloud-enabled services. Some 96% of CAS companies have helped clients apply for forgivable loans through the Small Business Administration’s Salary Protection Program (PPP) and other assistance programs. More than half (55%) of companies also said their revenues were up due to work from the pandemic.

“Client advisory services have become an increasingly strategic component of CPA firm offerings, and this has never been clearer than during the pandemic,” said Erik Asgeirsson, President and CEO from financing and other categories that will drive growth and deliver greater value to clients.

The AICPA and define CAS as a practice where firms advise clients on a range of financial and accounting decisions, with the goal of delivering higher value and deepening the trusted advisor relationship. CAS practices leverage technology and processes to deliver timely updates and deeper business information to their clients. The most common offers from CAS firms are:

  1. Preparation of financial statements (offered by 96% of companies surveyed)

  2. Advisory services of CFO / Controller (92%)

  3. Accounts Payable (90%)

  4. Forecasting / budgeting (89%)

  5. 1099 Creation and archiving (89%)

The survey provides extensive information on the evolution of CAS offerings and future growth opportunities. Some of the takeaways include:

  • Invest in talent. CAS practices deepened staff expertise and skills through additional training, with all practices increasing the average number of training hours from 27 to 37 per full-time equivalent (FTE) and top performers from 28 to 44 Businesses should also explore non-traditional talent options. to strengthen their growth capacity, including remote team members.
  • Take advantage of technology to gain efficiency. Evaluate opportunities for implementing robotic process automation and artificial intelligence or leverage unused capacity already available in your cloud-based technology stack. IT investments will pay off by creating critical capacity to serve customers. Challenge CAS team members to identify processes that can be further automated, simplified, or more efficient.
  • Improve data collection and reporting. As CAS practices develop, leaders will need better data management, relevant KPIs, and consistent reporting to effectively manage their practices and gain buy-in from business leaders. There is still too much variability from company to company on service metrics.
  • Drive pricing, billing and benchmarking changes. CAS practices have evolved significantly into fixed-cost, value-added billing models over the past two years, with a majority (60%) offering these structures to clients. Value-based billing models provide many benefits to both the firm and the client and is an area where CAS practices can lead the way in the profession. The survey also suggested that with an average close rate of 75%, the chiefs of staff at SCA could undervalue their services.
  • Communicate market value to customers and internal stakeholders. The three main areas of resistance when selling new services arise from perceptions about the value of CAS services and questions about pricing. CAS leaders should create their value proposition and communicate it regularly to stakeholders, including staff and external audiences. The survey also indicated that while marketing spend increased slightly for CAS practices, this was an area of ​​opportunity for companies as total spend is still below standard for industries. and comparable occupations.
  • Secure leadership membership and sponsorship. Almost half (46%) of top performing companies reported that a major barrier to success was members of the firm’s internal team who do not understand the value of CAS, equate it with less valuable accounting or push back the CAS business model. Company management should effectively address these issues with clear and consistent messages about the value of CAS. will host a free webinar today at 2 p.m. ET to highlight key findings from the survey and offer practical strategies for companies to strengthen and develop their CAS capabilities. The CAS Company Roadmap and CAS Client Assessment Workshops, the new CAS Firm Self-Assessment, White Papers and other resources are also available for companies wishing to start or expand a CAS practice. . To learn more, please visit


The CAS benchmark survey was conducted online from August through December last year with assistance from Convergence Coaching LLC and includes data for fiscal 2019, as well as early 2020, from 111 firms. CASE. In addition to the general results, the survey analyzes the performance of CAS best practices, defined as those with the highest Net Client Per Professional (NCFPP) charges.

About brings innovative solutions to the accounting profession, either in partnership with leading service providers, or directly through its own development. The company has established itself as a thought leader in emerging technologies and as a trusted business advisor to practitioners in the United States, with a growing global focus.

Our company’s primary mission is to drive the transformation of practice areas, advance the profession’s technological ecosystem, and lead technological research and innovation efforts for practitioners.

A subsidiary of the American Institute of CPAs, the company is also part of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, the most influential organization in the world representing the profession. For more information, visit

About the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, AICPA and CIMA

The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (the Association), representing AICPA and CIMA, advances the global accounting and finance profession through its work on behalf of 696,000 AICPA members, students and committed professionals and of CIMA in 192 countries and territories. Together, we are the world leader in public accounting and management issues through advocacy, support for CPA license and specialized credentials, professional training and thought leadership. We build trust by giving our members and committed professionals the knowledge and opportunities to be leaders in expanding prosperity for a more inclusive, sustainable and resilient future.

The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), the world’s largest member association representing the CPA profession, sets ethical standards for its members and US auditing standards for private companies, nonprofits and federal, state and local governments. It also develops and scores the uniform CPA exam and builds the pool of future talent for the public accountancy profession.

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) is the first and largest professional body of management accountants in the world. CIMA works closely with employers and sponsors cutting-edge research, constantly updating its professional qualification and work experience requirements to ensure it remains the employer’s choice when recruiting chefs. financially trained business.

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