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Case Study: Nature of CPA Firm sample essay

For this case study I looked at a broad range of CPA firms’ websites from the large national firms such as Deloitte, PWC and Ernst & Young to the smaller local firms including KDV, Copeland Buhl & Co and Schechter, Dokken & Kanter. While examining these websites, the first thing that became apparent to me is that the content and functionality from website to website is very similar. All of the websites I looked at include an ‘About Us’ page explaining who they are and what they do, which typically includes their mission statement.

They all include a ‘Services’ page detailing the service provided which includes but is not limited to advisory, assurance, tax, consulting, financial and technology. All of the websites I looked at also featured a ‘Careers’ section which includes current job opening and detailed information about the organization’s culture and benefits. The large national firms include a listing of the industries they support. Some of the firms include a resources page which may contain links to a variety of calculators to assist with financial decisions as well as links to various publications and forms.

There are many reasons a firm may invest in a website. In fact, I would argue that it is essential for CPA firms to have a strong web presence if they want to be competitive in today’s marketplace. If you are a smaller firm, having a website can allow you to compete with the large national firms, as anyone with internet access can find your website. Having a website is also a much cheaper way to advertise when compared to the more traditional methods such as newspaper, television, radio, direct mail, etc… Having a website can allow you to reach millions of people something newspaper and radio cannot do.

Having a website also improves your ability to enhance customer service because you have the ability to provide customers with information instantly. It also provides an avenue for recruiting a talented workforce. In my opinion the website of a CPA firm need not be highly sophisticated. For CPA firms, a website’s primary role is to advertise and market to existing and potential customers by providing information regarding the services they offer. The internet has changed how CPA firms do business from communicating with client to hiring and retaining employees. The internet has allowed CPA firms to go paperless.

Paper no longer needs to be printed and photocopied. Financial statements and reports can be delivered electronically in an instant. Now, information is delivered via the web and the recipient has it within seconds at no additional cost. One example of how the internet has changed how CPA firms do business is through the increase in electronic tax returns and payments. The internet can also be used to transfer information back and forth with customers through the use of an online portal. In my line of work, nearly all of the audit firms we do business with use the internet to receive and transmit information.

The Internet has also increased efficiency by giving accountants the ability to manage a client’s computers and software, and retrieve information from them, remotely. With the appropriate permissions and software such as LogMeIn. com or PCanywhere. com, an accountant can take control of a client’s computer from afar and do everything that someone located in the office could, except physically load discs. The CPA can virtually “visit” the client at any time without the need for the client to be physically present. For any organization that has a website there are certain liabilities that must be considered.

Often CPA firms are providing financial information and advice to their customers. Providing inaccurate information that causes financial harm to a customer is a concern that CPA firms must consider. Additionally, many CPA firms use an online portal as a way of transferring information back and forth with customers. As a result security should be a primary consideration. If an online hacker were to hack into the computer systems of a CPA firm and obtain confidential information such as social security numbers or personal tax information the results could be devastating.

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