Executive Summary Clients See More Differences than Similarities

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2 Executive Summary Clients See More Differences than Similarities Auditing the Auditors: Clients Reports Are In It s hard to hide among the masses when you re in a class of 4 especially when it s the Big 4. Virtually every financial decision maker has a tale of success or war story about their experience with one of the Big 4. At a time when financial executives are changing how they rely on the Big 4, clients delineate in detail their experiences with each of the Big 4. Clients unveil which Big 4 firm tops their lists in client service delivery, brand prestige and who would be hired tomorrow. Transforming Threats into Opportunities Is Your Relationship at Risk? Client satisfaction with the Big 4 drops as clients raise expectations chipping away at core CPA firm relationships Nearly 30% of clients have recently replaced or are planning to replace their primary audit firm up dramatically from just 2 years ago Financial decision makers relying on one more CPA firm for substantive work than 24 months ago increasing competitive pressure on a daily basis 1

3 Table of Contents Click on any title to go directly to the chapter Executive Summary 1 Clients Test Use of New CPA Firms in the Face of Declining Satisfaction: How Clients Use CPA Firms 3 Getting to Clientopia : The 17 Activities Paving the Way to Ideal Client Relationships 14 Superior Financial Rewards Activities: The Best of the Big 4 22 Price of Admission Activities: Minimum Requirements 27 Bolster the Case for a Superior Relationship 34 Calling Card Activities: Proven to Attract Clients 40 Firm-Specific Highlights: Direct Client Feedback 43 Understanding Clients 60 Top Financial Executive Goals 61 Major Changes Being Made by Financial Leaders 62 Market Presence and Branding 64 About BTI 76 2

4 Clients Test Use of New CPA Firms in the Face of Declining Satisfaction: How Clients Use CPA Firms The BTI Consulting Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

5 Primary CPA Firms Compete with 3 Other CPA Firms Everyday Up from 2 Competitors How many CPA firms does your company work with today? Large companies use a total of 4 CPA firms, up from 3 firms in 2011 CPA Firm Usage Average Number of Firms Used Adding a firm drives increased competition and a considerable redistribution of dollars flowing to CPA firms The auditor of record is the primary CPA firm Primary CPA Firm Secondary CPA Firms 83.4% of primary relationships are with a Big 4 firm Secondary providers have the ability to outperform primary providers in areas of client service % of CFOs and Controllers have switched or are planning to switch their primary audit provider (see page 7)

6 52% of Clients Satisfied Which CPA firms do you consider your primary providers? Could you tell me which firm or firms you would unequivocally recommend to someone else in your industry? 51.9% of Controllers and CFOs who use a Big 4 firm recommend their current auditor to peers the gold standard in measuring client satisfaction BTI calls this leading metric Clientopia Clients in a state of Clientopia are 68.2% less likely to replace their audit firm They also rate the client service performance of their CPA firms 18.8% higher than those clients who are less satisfied 100% 75% 50% Clientopia Rate: Clients Who Recommend Their Primary Auditor Percent of Decision Makers 48.1% Vulnerable 51.9% Clientopia 25% 0% 5

7 About BTI The BTI Consulting Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

8 About BTI BTI is the leading provider of strategic research to professional services firms. For the past 23 years BTI has delivered the most insightful and compelling custom client surveys, syndicated client surveys, strategic market research, benchmarking and best practice studies relating to client service, business development, business strategy and client satisfaction. BTI works with virtually every market leader in major professions including: Law Accounting Engineering Management Consulting Technology Consulting Economic Consulting Environmental Consulting Private Equity BTI conceived, designed and developed the largest continuous benchmarking survey of how C-level executives select and evaluate professional services firms. This research includes more than 13,000 one-on-one interviews with C-level executives, probing all aspects of client relationships and client expectations. BTI used this research to define the 17 Activities Driving Clientopia. 7

9 BTI s Research with Financial Executives Over the past 23 years, BTI conducted more than 13,000 in-depth one-on-one interviews with C-level executives to delineate the activities, qualities, characteristics and behaviors driving successful client relationships. These C-level executives identified 17 activities as the most important and influential in assessing their professional service firms. This exclusive study adds 259 brand new, in-depth interviews with CFOs, CAOs and Controllers to our expansive database. These financial leaders, from the world s largest and most influential buyers of audit services, participated in individual telephone interviews between September 13, 2012 and March 14, 2013 and represent: Organizations with an average revenue of $2.3 billion Financial executives, including: Chief Accounting Officers (CAO) Chief Financial Officers (CFO) Controllers Senior Vice Presidents / Vice Presidents of Finance Companies spanning more than 10 industries, including: Banking & Financial Services Biotech & Pharmaceutical Consumer Goods Energy & Utilities High Tech Manufacturing 8

10 Research Methodology and Approach BTI conducts all interviews using multiple techniques. These include: Structured questions Quantitative questions Our interview team averages more than 15 years of experience interviewing C-level and top executives. Terms of Use This copy of is licensed to you for private, non-commercial use for internal, company purposes. No portion of this information may be copied or transmitted in any form, shape or manner without the prior written consent of The BTI Consulting Group, Inc., of Wellesley, MA. Any violation of this license may be punishable by applicable federal statutes and subject the user to additional and compensatory licensing fees. Copyright 2013, The BTI Consulting Group, Inc. Address any questions to: The BTI Consulting Group, Inc. 396 Washington Street Suite 314 Wellesley, MA Forward-looking questions Experience-based questions 9

11 Contact BTI Please contact Michael B. Rynowecer, BTI President, at or at with your questions, thoughts and comments. 10

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