The financial crisis is weeding out
weak US accounting firms and the profession needs to be more innovative to
cope with fee pressure, a mid-tier firm leader warned.
Burr Pilger Mayer managing partner
Stephen Mayer believes the difficulties are only temporary for
good-quality firms and trimming the fat will provide longer-term
“It is a great weeding-out because
there are a lot of people who are still in the accounting
profession who aren’t that good at what they do,” Mayer said. “This
is a way of weeding them out and I think the ones that remain will
probably be stronger.”
Mayer said the accounting profession
needs to work out creative ways to add value to engagements without
savagely lowering fees, because this will only lead to
“When the pressure is that incredible,
people start doing crazy things,” Mayer continued. “They lower
their fees too much, they bid work below cost and it hurts the
whole profession because if it takes 100 hours to do something, you
can’t stay in business if you are only getting paid for 50 hours
and you start cutting corners.
“I think what people are going to find
is that the quality and the problems from the last couple of years,
which will surface in the next couple of years, are probably going
to be pretty incredible.”
Mayer would like the profession to be
more progressive and entrepreneurial.
Burr Pilger Mayer, a firm based in San
Francisco, has grown about 20%a year for the past 20 years. During
the past year, the firm grew 18%, which included organic growth of
between 7% to 8%.