The CAAS Obstacle Course: Actionable Training Tips to Win the Race

Vibrant Austin, Texas, provided a stellar setting for a different sort of accounting-focused gathering of brilliant minds dedicated to growing their CAAS practices. This strategic retreat held in conjunction with the infamous Digital CPA conference brought to life a reflective and collaborative discussion among Allinial Global CAAS Community members. Attendees were immediately whisked away to common ground, realizing that they are not alone in their obstacles and quest to win at moving their CAAS practices forward.

Through our CAAS Community, we are creating a movement of camaraderie with Allinial Global firms working together to be more intentional and strategic in overcoming obstacles and capitalizing on the growth opportunities for CAAS.

“Obstacles don’t block the path. They are part of the path.”

~Zen Proverb

Here are some ways to train and set a plan in preparation for the various kinds of obstacles on the course.

Obstacle The ultimate vision and end goal are unclear.

Train – Assess the terrain. We are often so focused on our busy-ness that we are left overwhelmed, only working IN the business instead of ON the business. Delegate and calendar specific times to get out of the weeds and take a step back to reevaluate the overall course and your goals. It is helpful to look at the big picture and break down team goals into smaller, achievable steps (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely = SMART goals). Recalibrating where time and energy are spent can shed light on what realistically can be done with the resources available. Revisit Franklin Covey’s Four Quadrants of Time Management and shift focus to Quadrant 2 activities that maximize effectiveness.

Obstacle Dwelling on setbacks instead of moving past them.

Train – Choose to focus on possibilities. Flex your creative and critical thinking muscles by evaluating the setbacks and determining what is within your control to change the circumstances and take action.

Train – Build your endurance. A supportive community can often help put things into perspective and give you the encouragement and advice you need to keep moving. The Allinial Global CAAS Community brings people together to share ideas and expertise in a forum where participants can choose their own destiny and difficulty. We understand that what may work well for one firm may need to be tweaked to work successfully at another firm. So, whether it’s speeding through the obstacles or changing your course of action—victory awaits at the finish line.

“Discussions in the CAAS Community are providing us with a skeleton framework that we can then use in our firms to put the muscle on. The important thing is that we are advising our clients in the best ways.” ~Ellen Marvin, Sobel & Co., LLC

Obstacle Applying an old training regimen to a unique and adventuresome service line.

Train – Change it up. Standardized practices that have worked well for many years in the compliance service areas may not be effective for the CAAS practice area. We can change that formula to get a different result! Taking a risk and doing things differently can help us break through and thrive in this practice area.

  • Consider how to evolve positioning and pricing strategies.
  • Evaluate whether current workflows are working well.
  • Standardize repeatable and scalable processes.
  • Explore different approaches to building capacity. According to the 2022 CAS Benchmark Survey, more than 26% of respondents are using outsourced services in their practice.

The Allinial Global CAAS Community hosts roundtables specifically addressing Pricing/Positioning Strategies for Client Advisory Services (1/20/23 recording) and Exploring Workflow Solutions (3/24/23).

ObstacleLack of awareness and appreciation for the high-impact value CAAS can have on a client’s business.  

Train – Do specific exercises. Both clients and internal firm members often confuse CAAS with lower-level bookkeeping. Find ways to showcase a consistent and meaningful narrative on the value proposition of CAAS. Firms that take a holistic approach to cross-selling across multiple service lines to understand and identify CAAS opportunities ensure that clients proactively get the full spectrum of forward-looking services they need. This amplifies the client’s trust, resulting in increased lifetime loyalty.

  • Host a firm-wide lunch and learn to explain and give real-life examples of what CAAS can offer staff and clients. Use data and metrics from the 2022 CAS Benchmark Survey to further tell the story and reiterate the transformative power of CAAS. For example, the results report that the median growth rate for all CAS practices was 16% with an optimistic median of 15% growth projected for the upcoming year.

The Allinial Global CAAS Community is creating an adrenaline-fueled presentation template that leaders can customize and use to educate firm staff on the possibilities of CAAS.

  • For constituents that seem hesitant to get on board, consider a more targeted approach such as one-on-one meetings to address their concerns in a more personal and collaborative way.

Enthusiasm and grit will take you far, but the key to performing is training and preparation.

A special thank you to the members of the Allinial Global CAAS Community—you are making a difference and winning every day. And a shout out to our invaluable strategic partner,, who continuously provides training routine best practices and profession-wide intel and resources.