By: Steven Templeton, CPA, CVA, Founder & President, Templeton & Company

It’s no secret that CPA firms are merging at a rapid pace.  A recent article in Accounting Today estimated that more than one out of every two CPA firms of any significant size is either discussing or planning to consider a merger, acquisition or sale.  As baby boomer owners of CPA firm practices look to enjoy the fruits of their labor, they often seek a larger firm that can take over client relationships and ensure a fair retirement payout.  This creates unprecedented opportunities for progressive firms seeking rapid growth.

However, the ability to execute a merger and assimilate the merged firm quickly and efficiently can be a daunting task.  With different time and billing software, contact management systems, general ledgers, and financial reporting systems, the merged firm often runs blind for extended periods of time after the merger.  One managing partner at a very large CPA firm told me that he was unable to get timely work in process or accounts receivable reports for months after a recent merger.

Key to firm integration and assimilation are the decisions around common operating systems and platforms.  Our firm’s technology group Templeton Solutions recognized this need and developed solutions to deal with these challenges with the CPA professional services firm in mind.  They allow us to manage client relationships, contacts, marketing, sales opportunity planning and pipeline, client projects, time and expense entry, work in progress and even tax return due dates and workflow in a single system.  CRM for Professionals™ and Practice Management for Professionals™ are powered by Microsoft Dynamics CRM and support sales and marketing, operations, and accounting from a single database.  Our affiliate, Templeton Solutions, offers these solutions as licensed or subscription add-ons to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform to provide this unequalled functionality to other firms.  It’s built for the CPA professional services firm from the start so there is no need to reinvent the wheel.

Last summer, we put our solutions to the test when we merged in a local CPA firm that was about 15% of our size that operates in another city.  The results were amazing!  We began merger discussions after the 2015 tax season and targeted an August 1, 2015 merger date.  During July, using our data extraction techniques, we converted contact information from Microsoft Outlook used by the acquired firm’s owners and managers.  We also converted client and tax return information from their legacy CCH system.  This information was easily organized and fed into our system to create records for client accounts, contacts, engagements, and tax returns so we could all operate using a single common system.  Because it’s Microsoft, the new users needed only minimal training to orient to the new environment.

To be sure, there are a myriad of other issues to be addressed pre- and post-merger, but with our licensed solutions, firm mergers can be successfully accelerated and practices can be rapidly integrated.