- 72% of small and mid-size businesses want a proactive approach to expense management
- Only 34% of accounting firms are offering spend management advisory services
- Firms that offer expense management services are achieving greater efficiencies and profits, and an increased ability to attract and retain clients
NEW YORK (March 15, 2023) – Rising inflation and growing economic uncertainty are driving an increasing need among small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) for a more comprehensive approach to budgeting and controlling spend, according to a new report issued today from CPA.com, the business and technology arm of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). Nearly three out of four (72%) SMBs surveyed said they’re interested in a proactive approach to expense management, including matching anticipated expenses to budgets before the money is spent. Yet only 34% of accounting firms are currently offering these services, highlighting an opportunity for firms to grow their client advisory services (CAS) practices and deepen their trusted advisor roles with clients through spend management services.
“From Expense Tracking to Spend Management: The Next Client Advisory Services (CAS) Opportunity for Accounting Firms” includes insights from a survey of more than 1,100 SMBs and accounting firms on the opportunities presented by spend management, the ability to view, control and track a company’s spend in real time to provide actionable insights to key financial decision-makers. Spend management is an emerging, but rapidly growing, component of CAS, the fastest-growing practice area for the profession. The survey explored the pain points experienced by SMBs surrounding budgeting and spend, and how firms can support them with card-based spend management, which leverages software and corporate cards to provide a more proactive approach to expense management.
According to the survey, there is strong demand for and benefits of outsourced expense management services. Almost half (41%) of SMBs report they outsource this service and have seen positive results, including: a reduction of in-house hours spent on expense management, an implementation of new controls to reduce expense abuses and fraud, and streamlined and improved expense and spend management processes. A majority (51%) of this same group also said their accountant recommended card-based spend management and that it has been a game-changer for their companies.
“We are finding that our average growth for spend management services is at least double, if not triple, the median on all of our client advisory services,” commented Megan Bronson, advisory partner for Squire & Company. “Spend management is what our clients need the most.”
According to the research, 58% of firms currently offer or are interested in offering this service, underscoring the growing demand and strategic nature of this service. Firms who are packaging expense management as part of their advisory service are realizing significant benefits, including greater efficiencies and profits (63%) and an increased ability to attract and retain clients (74%).
“The most successful client advisory services practices are very intentional about how they build and scale their practices,” said Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO, CPA.com. “Spend management is strategic and a natural extension of CAS – adding it allows firms to deepen their relationships and deliver the real-time insights and proactive guidance that their small and mid-size business clients value.”
For firms interested in offering spend management advisory
CPA.com, a recognized leader in CAS, has breadth of education and resources to support firms looking to get started with spend management services, including:
- Free CPE live webinar March 29 at 2 p.m. ET with technology and profession leaders focused on key SMB expense management pain points and steps firms can take to get started with spend management advisory.
- On-demand webinars with practitioner insights on how firms can start, package, price and productize spend management, staff an advisory practice, identify clients for spend management, and more.
- Divvy Accountant Advisor Program, offered in partnership between CPA.com and Divvy, a BILL company, that provides firms with the dedicated support, training and technology to effectively deliver spend management services. Divvy is a free all-in-one spend and expense management solution that pairs with corporate cards to budget, track and manage expenses in one place. This enables accounting firms and their clients to have greater visibility into cash flow and save time on closing books, while eliminating tedious expense reports.
To learn more about spend management advisory or the Divvy Accountant Advisor Program, visit cpa.com/Divvy.
The survey was conducted from September to November 2022 and included responses from 368 accounting firm participants and 763 SMB participants, for a total sample size of 1,131. The survey was administered online, conducted by CPA.com and Divvy, a BILL company. For more information on the participants, including titles and organization sizes, please visit the appendix at the end of the report.
CPA.com brings innovative solutions to the accounting profession, either in partnership with leading providers or directly through its own development. The company has established itself as a thought leader on emerging technologies and as the trusted business advisor to practitioners in the United States, with a growing global focus.
Our company’s core mission is to drive the transformation of practice areas, advance the technology ecosystem for the profession, and lead technology 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 world’s most influential organization representing the profession. For more information, visit CPA.com.