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The Anatomy of a Great CPA Firm Explained

The Anatomy of a Great CPA Firm | Botkeeper

When you think of a CPA firm that seems to have it all together, what comes to mind? Is it their services and clientele? Their firm size or funding? Maybe it’s their influence in the accounting and business communities?



While there may be some general assumptions on how to bucket the “successful” and “not so successful” accounting firms out there, the question remains:

What are the truly successful accounting firms doing differently in today’s new and accelerating and evolving landscape?

Great CPA firms have a lot in common. They're productive, innovative, and successful—and they’re always striving for more.

We're all about highlighting a firm's individuality to drive business, so it's important to remember that successful firms don't all look the same; some of these traits usually help define the basis of how they do business.

What Do Great CPA Firms Have In Common?

There's no magic formula for the anatomy of a truly great CPA firm, but there are some commonalities. Chief among them: they're receptive to change, and in this day and age, one of the biggest changes is the evolution of accounting technology. 

They're comfortable with automation.

It's the 21st Century. We have such a wide variety of powerful technology at our fingertips. Businesses across industry lines have started to use automation to streamline their workflows and improve productivity—and accountants can, too.

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There are lots of tedious, manual tasks that need to be done at every CPA firm. All those tasks take time and energy, but when firms incorporate automation, they can turn their focus to:

  • Using, honing, and expanding employee skills;
  • Driving better advisory;
  • Increasing potential revenue or capacity;
  • Improving margins;
  • And more!
Now, a hard truth that some forward-thinking accounting firms have had to face is how much of their firm and processes they automate. With piecemeal tech adoption, firms can introduce technology to solve a single, primary challenge 
One good example of an easy opportunity for automation in most CPA firms is bookkeeping. When you automate bookkeeping tasks, you can enjoy better-organized and carefully verified data. It's a great way to improve your current approach to bookkeeping and open up opportunities to improve other aspects of your work, as well.

They believe "work-life balance" is achievable.

You might be conditioned to believe that having work-life balance is unobtainable. And in fact, a lot of companies talk out both sides of their mouths and make a happy balance seem like a myth. But work-life balance is actually one of the keys to a productive and healthy workplace.

The best CPA firms encourage work-life balance. Who can be on their A-game and offer great service to clients when all they do is stare at spreadsheets for eight hours a day? It's not realistic!

CPAs have always worked unthinkable hours, skipped holidays, and missed out on vacation days. Great firms don't let this happen. If you want your CPA firm to stand out above the crowd, you must treat your team like you'd treat your family. A happy, healthy firm accomplishes much more than a firm filled with overworked accountants.

The days of overwork are over! It's an old-school tactic. It doesn't work—and it doesn't make for a happy life or productive workplace.


Their clients have easy access to the information they need.

One of the hallmarks of any great service is its users' ability to navigate service offerings, locate personal information, etc. It takes a little work to transition to a workflow that facilitates this, but we think it's worth it.

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Your clients should be able to access the financial information they need when they need it. Today's top firms allow their clients what would have once been considered unprecedented levels of access to information. It's one of the most meaningful ways to offer better and faster value to clients.

Make sure that your clients can get to the information they need on their terms via technology. For example, great CPA firms don’t just offer a retroactive tax return as a deliverable, but instead they offer real-time insights and actionable data for their clients to plan and reach their goals. It's about anticipating need and acting on it.

This doesn't just benefit the people you're serving—it helps make things easier for your team, too. Self-service options are less demanding for CPAs than alternatives that require an accountant's assistance.

They hire accountants with the right qualities.

We could write a novel about hiring. It's a lengthy process that entails a lot—and it can feel high-pressure, too! Your firm might be next-level when it comes to hiring, but if you aren't sure which traits you should prioritize during your employee search, here's a quick primer:

  • The willingness to constantly learn: The accounting field is always changing. There are a lot of constants (math is like that), but the processes we use to get work done shift. You need a team filled with people who are always ready to learn something new.
  • A strong sense of ethics: Ethics are crucial when you work in a business that involves other people's money. Accountants must be ethical and show integrity.
  • The ability to work on teams and independently: A lot of the work that happens in accounting firms happens in teams. If you hire someone who isn't a team player, he or she could have some trouble assimilating into your office. On the other hand, if you hire someone who can't function independently, they may struggle to work on their own or work one-on-one with clients.
  • Creativity: Creativity is usually a trait that's overlooked in this field, but it shouldn't be! Creative accountants will help you recognize solutions that may never have crossed your mind before.

They leverage simplicity where it counts.

Some accounting work is probably never going to look easy, but we have a lot of tools at our disposal that make certain aspects of modern accounting pretty simple.

They leverage simplicity where it counts | Botkeeper

Successful CPA firms recognize opportunities to keep certain things simple. Lots of firms fall victim to over-complicated processes or concepts they don't totally understand, and new software and technology can actually muddle a firm's abilities instead of expanding them.

That's why it's important to keep things simple when you can. Your firm should always be ready to innovate and solve tough problems, but there should be some aspects of your work that are simple and practical.

Especially as it relates to your firm’s tech stack, it’s important to consider simplicity. Single-function tools can be great, but you might find more value from software that addresses and remedies multiple pain points.


The Secret to Creating a Great CPA Firm

While there are myriad ways you can elevate your CPA firm to greatness, one final common trait thriving accounting firms have in common is tech adoption—specifically, automation.

Successful CPA firms know that wasting time on menial bookkeeping tasks will only make their employees’ daily work more difficult and hold their firm back from growth.

That’s why Botkeeper was created: to lighten the load on accountants and empower them to focus on more meaningful work like advisory services.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Botkeeper can help your firm jump to the next level, click below to schedule a free assessment with one of our dedicated specialists!