Accountability is a difficult concept for CPA firms where the partnership culture can make what can be perceived as a difficult conversation even more difficult. However, more and more firms are recognizing the value of keeping everyone on task with business development activities and results when it comes to realizing a return on the firm’s investment in marketing. Metrics give the conversation some objectivity and distance. There are many areas that can be measured, but one metric that is particularly important is current client growth.

Measuring the growth of client relationships

The growth of the client relationship year-over-year is one of the most difficult items for firms to measure. Often this is because it’s difficult to get information out of the time and billing system. You may have it coded into different areas and find it hard to get a total for that client. It’s worth the time it takes to unify this data for each of your clients – if you can get your arms around this information it can be some of the most valuable that you track.

Year-over-year, how is your client work growing and changing? Review this by client and look at a rolling 12-month period that you compare to the prior 12-month period for that client. Once you have this information organized, look at the data and see what you learn. Did we bill the same amount as the previous 12-month period for most of our A and B clients? Did we grow the client by billing more this year than last? If a client’s billing is down this year, why is that? Are we not paying enough attention? Is something going on in their business?

An Excel spreadsheet is an effective way to organize and track this information on an ongoing basis. Once you set up the data, you can create formulas to calculate the changes for each client (see example). There will be exceptions for each client, such as the timing of invoicing, that may affect individual clients—but looking at the data as a whole can point to trends that you may not have noticed otherwise.

Example: Sales Results vs. Growth Goals YTD


Client Current Year Fees Prior Year Fees Changefrom Existing Change from Lost Change from New TotalChange
































It may also show you which of your partners are best at having conversations with clients about increasing the amount of business they do with your firm. This allows you to pair those partners with others whose skills at having client conversations aren’t as strong. To see how the firm is performing in the area of client results, we recommend updating and reviewing the report semi-annually.

There are a number of other metrics that firms can track in order to create a comprehensive system for accountability—but measuring client results can be a great starting point for most firms.

About the author

Carrie_092_darker SCALED

Carrie Steffen is a Shareholder
and Vice President 
at The Whetstone Group

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