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Steps to Reduce Stress and Create M&A Advantage this Tax Season

Tax season tests CPA firms of all sizes. It is never too soon to be ready for tax season, and while each season takes on a character of its own, achieving a great tax season is not easy, but not impossible. My recent blog for the PICPA outlines 6 steps to elevate tax season from good to great.

Some firms will come out of tax season stronger, some will emerge depleted, and some will be motivated to explore M&A. If M&A is on your mind, strong tax season results are going to be meaningful for optimal results. As you plan for tax season, follow my six recommendations in my PICPA blog, plus these four time-sensitive tax season requirements that will additionally influence M&A viability.

  1. Address Offshoring and Outsourcing. If you are looking to align with another firm and have not yet used any of these channels, it is best to defer the initiative, as the learning curve is steep. If you are a potential acquirer and have not started the process, make it happen: creating capacity is key. If you are doing this already, do more by increasing the level or quantity of outsourcing (or both).

  2. Calibrate Metrics. Synergies in billing and engagement management go a long way towards supporting compatibility and merger success. Both sides need to have their production engines running so they are most efficient on their “sweet spot” engagements. Tracking systems need to be in place, with dashboards and easy reporting for traditional data such as realization and achieved rate per hour, and non-traditional data such as engagement gross profit and engagement budgetary variance.

  3. Envision Transition. Top clients need a high caliber of attention and personality. The best time to design the criteria for a strong transition is when the clients are being handled. The parties seeking an exit must have a template for requirements to transition, and keep it current during tax season. Simultaneously, the firm that will be adding the clients needs to have its current transition requirements scoped out and monitored to be ready for more. Furthermore, a generic list of tasks to transition should be developed and tested with the parties who will take on the roles.

  4. Emphasize Infrastructure. For acquirers, it’s important to know that your management team and processes will be up for more responsibility – plan to increase the management load and test the results. For those looking for a bigger platform, keep track of what kind of improvements you would benefit from – maintain a list in real time. The stronger the administrative processes, the better the merger readiness.

Tax season always offers powerful opportunities. Proper planning will allow you to optimize results for prosperity, entrepreneurialism, M&A advantage, and professional gratification. Given all the time that will be worked during tax season, it’s worth planning for a great season to get the right return on your time.

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